Top 20 moments of 2013, #15: Father-son claim NHRA titles in same season

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Our number 15 top moment of 2013 saw a father and son team claim NHRA titles for the first time in professional motorsports history.

In the long history of the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), no father and son have earned championships in the same year. In fact, it’s never happened in any form of major motorsports.

That changed in 2013 when Rickie Smith won the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series title driving a nitrous-fed IDG Chevrolet Camaro; four weeks later son Matt Smith secured his second NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle championship (his first came in 2007) riding a self-tuned Viper Racing Buell.

Rickie clinched his first championship at St Louis with one race remaining on the Pro Mod schedule and now that he’s finally secured an NHRA title is thinking about retiring from driving - or maybe not. Matt, too, took his second Pro Stock Motorcycle championship in the penultimate Mello Yello race at Las Vegas.

Rickie Smith
Rickie Smith

Photo by: Anne Proffit

Rickie won seven IHRA titles in Pro Stock and Super Modified but none since 1989. The 59-year-old from King, NC has been racing for 40 years, driving his own truck and doing much of the prep work himself. “It’s time to back off, be a crew chief and let these young guys do it,” he said. Rickie secured his championship when all of his challengers went out in the first round at St Louis and he couldn’t be caught.

Matt Smith is going the opposite direction from his father, expecting to have at least three and likely more Buell motorcycles in his Matt Smith Racing trailer and racing one himself. This year he fielded, tuned and served as crew chief on Buell motorcycles for himself, wife Angie, Scotty Pollacheck and John Hall.

In fact, once his title was neatly secured, Matt turned his winning Buell to teammate Pollacheck and tried to sort that man’s bike in the finale at NHRA’s ancestral, Pomona, CA home. He was celebrating his 41st birthday during that race - in style.

Matt got hot in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, winning an astounding 16 rounds, going to four final rounds and winning three races, putting all his competitors back in their trailers before the season was done. “Going four rounds (at Las Vegas) and wrapping up the title was icing on the cake.”

No matter what Rickie Smith does next year, he can look forward to watching the success of his son, whose Team Viper Racing Buells seem to have a number on the rest of the competition.

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Series NHRA
Article type Special feature
Tags father, matt, mello hello, nhra, pro mod, pro stock, rickie, smith, son