The Big One looms, and Smith is ready. MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 24, 2003) - Geologists and scientists have been predicting it for years - a massive earthquake that will rattle the coast of California and begin the slow process of breaking apart...
The Big One looms, and Smith is ready.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 24, 2003) - Geologists and scientists have been predicting it for years - a massive earthquake that will rattle the coast of California and begin the slow process of breaking apart the state from the mainland. This tremor will be so massive it's already got a name. They're calling it "The Big One."
Scientists have spent countless hours slaving over the mystery of the San Andreas Fault. They've reasoned that this boundary of tectonic plates is where large amounts of energy are released, which in turn creates earthquakes. And they've predicted that sometime in the next 30 years, "The Big One" will strike San Francisco, and Californians from miles around will feel it.
This alone has everyone along the heavily populated western seaboard on pins and needles. Well, everyone except Jim Smith, owner of Ultra Motorsports, Ultra Wheel Company and just about everything else Ultra. Smith, you see, already has a plan.
"This is why I've also got a house in Arizona," he says with a laugh. "Because if California falls off the face of the earth, I'll still have beachfront property."
Smith can be lighthearted about the matter because he's got so many other things on his mind. His No. 7 SIRIUS Racing Team is in position to make large gains in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings, but it needs to start making its move this weekend in the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway (Fox, 3 p.m. EDT). Smith has been around this sport for over three decades, and he knows the longer the season progresses, the more difficult it is to close gaps.
With the Winston Cup Series returning to action after a much-needed week off, the entertaining owner of the Ultra Motorsports Dog Pound sits down to discuss his team, his home state, and what he expects from his boys this weekend.
SIRIUS Racing Owner Jim Smith's thoughts:
Are you looking forward to racing in your own back yard?
"Without a doubt. I love California. I've lived here all my life, and I love racing out here. We always take a big group of people from the Wheel Company out to the track, and we just have a good time. Everybody in racing talks about how they look forward to Charlotte race weekend because they can sleep in their own beds. Well, this is my Charlotte."
It's been well documented how you claim to be the happiest car owner in the garage area. Is that still true after nine races?
"Absolutely. I couldn't be happier with the group of people we've got at the shop. That doesn't mean I'm happy that we're 28th in points right now, but I know we've got the potential to be better. I know it for a fact. I see the way (crew chief) Tommy Baldwin and (driver) Jimmy Spencer work together, and I know they have a chemistry that can lead to good things for SIRIUS and Ultra Motorsports."
What has to happen then in the next stretch of races for this team to maximize its potential?
"I think we need to learn how to execute better. We're running good, we're just not executing. I think we just had a run of bad luck, and we've made some mistakes to go with it, and it has hurt us. What are the odds that the 76 Union gas pumps go bad like they did at Martinsville? What happens if the yellow flag doesn't bite us at Bristol? Those little things hurt us, and we haven't executed the way we need to either. But it's all going to turn around for us this weekend."
Hometown feelings aside, do you like California Speedway?
"I like it a lot. It's a lot like Las Vegas, and we ran well there. I'll accept nothing less than a top 10 this weekend."
Since this is your hometown track, do you think SIRIUS will let you borrow the Mongo costume again? I must say, you looked pretty good in it at Talladega.
"I think we definitely need the Mongo costume this weekend. Mongo needs to be with us everywhere we go. You know I was in the grocery store the other day and a guy saw my SIRIUS shirt and said, "HEY MONGO!" I laugh every time someone says that, because it still amazes me how big this dog has become. Everywhere we go - and I don't care if it's Darlington, or Bristol, or Texas, or California - people are talking about Mongo. It's a great deal for SIRIUS. I don't think there's a marketing guru in the world that could've predicted the rise of Mongo."
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