Cayuga: Victoria Smith preview

Local racer ready for IHRA Canadian Nationals at Cayuga's TMP CAYUGA, ON (July 14, 2006) -- Victoria Smith has grown up with drag racing a big part of her life. The 23-year old has been going to the track as long as she can remember, but now...

Local racer ready for IHRA Canadian Nationals at Cayuga's TMP

CAYUGA, ON (July 14, 2006) -- Victoria Smith has grown up with drag racing a big part of her life.

The 23-year old has been going to the track as long as she can remember, but now instead of watching her Dad race, she sits behind the wheel.

"I grew up on racetracks on the weekends all summer," she said recently, adding that the racing was a family affair as her father F.J. Smith was one of the top competitors in North America in the Stock and Super Stock classes.

Now one of the sport's premier car builders, F.J. has turned over the driving duties to Victoria, who has been running up and down the strips for about six years.

"When Dad decided to stop driving, Mom (mother Betsy) thought it would be worth a shot to put me in the car," said Smith. "And I was game and eager to try."

After learning her craft in a Super Stock Chevy S10 pickup, Smith got behind the wheel of the latest generation of car to come from the Smith Performance Shops near the banks of the Grand River.

The 2005 Pontiac Sunfire, resplendent in a striking white, black, and red paint scheme, is not like your average entry-level Pontiac. This front-engined, rear-wheel drive car puts out about 620 horsepower, enough to get Smith down the track in less than 9.5 seconds at a little over 140 mph.

After six years racing, Smith said she is pretty confident of her capabilities, and the performance of the car. If there is something not quite right, she can tell her crew chief and Father what's going on.

"We communicate really well," she said. "We have a good rapport."

The team runs about 15 events a year in NHRA (National Hot Rod Association), IHRA (International Hot Rod Association), and the Ontario-New York-Michigan Can-Am Stock/Super Stock Series. She has two Can-Am race victories so far this year.

Smith missed a couple of recent races as she was putting her post-graduate courses in public relations and corporate communications to good use. For the past several weeks she was working in the Marketing and Communications Department of the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, and she said it was a terrific experience.

"That was pretty awesome." Smith said about the time spent working on the Champ Car race through the streets of Toronto's Exhibition Place. "It is quite an experience to see the inner workings of a race of that magnitude." This was a temporary position, but in a field she wishes to pursue on a full-time basis.

Smith, along with father F.J. and the rest of the family will be on hand for the Fifth Annual IHRA Canadian Nationals July 21-23, just down the road from Smith Performance Specialties at Toronto Motorsports Park on Kohler Road just west of Cayuga.

-sp

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