WILLIAMSTON, SC, December 10, 2004 -- John "Bodie" Smith, driver of the Prestone Products Top Fuel dragster, underwent the fourth and hopefully final surgery in his left leg to enhance mobility and comfort lost during a serious accident in Brainerd, Minnesota in August 2001.
The surgery included removing the supporting rod surrounding the tibia (the larger innermost bone in the human leg between the knee and ankle), two ankle screws and an ankle plate used to fuse the shattered ankle bone. Smith will undergo physical therapy during the off-season to prepare for pre-season testing and the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series tour.
"The operation went extremely well and John is at home recovering from his surgery," comments fellow Top Fuel driver and wife, Rhonda Hartman-Smith. Hartman-Smith continues, "The doctors at the Anderson Hospital (Anderson, SC) advised John to remove the metal hardware as preventative measure. The rods and plates would severely impact the leg if it were re-injured in the future. We are confident that John will be back on his feet shortly."
The accident occurred when Smith and opponent, Gary Scelzi, were involved in a high-speed collision during the first round of Top Fuel eliminations at the Brainerd International Raceway in August 2001. Scelzi experienced an engine explosion that catapulted his Top Fueler across the center line and directly into Smith. Although Smith has been able to pursue his Top Fuel driving career, he will feel the physical effects of the accident for the rest of his life
Smith earned numerous "first's" in 2003 including a career-first final round match-up at hometown race, the Mac Tools Gatornationals, and two runner-up titles on the IHRA circuit including the Inaugural IHRA Amalie Oil Texas and the 3rd Annual ACDelco Nationals.
Hartman Motorsports is a family owned and operated automotive race team competing in the Top Fuel category of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) POWERade Drag Racing Series. Virgil Hartman is the team owner/tuner; daughter Rhonda Hartman-Smith drives the team's primary car (FRAM Filters Top Fuel Dragster) and son-in-law John "Bodie" Smith drives the second team car (Prestone Products Top Fuel Dragster).