Spotlight on Casey Smith

Teen Casey Smith still learning on and off the track. School by day, shop lessons by night & Racing 101 on the weekends. CONCORD, NC (April 7, 2003) -- Texas teenager Casey Smith isn't your average high school student. Most kids love the fact...

Teen Casey Smith still learning on and off the track.
School by day, shop lessons by night & Racing 101 on the weekends.

CONCORD, NC (April 7, 2003) -- Texas teenager Casey Smith isn't your average high school student. Most kids love the fact they can give their brain a break when the school bell rings at the end of each day, but for Smith, the learning continues well past the classroom.

His day's also include late evenings in another classroom, his racing shop, where he learns how to make his American Speed Association car go just a little bit faster. On weekends, the 17-year-old is studying Racing 101 as he learns how work and communicate with his new crew chief, veteran ASA-wrench and racecar builder Robert Hamke.

"I just came home the other day from school and told one of the crew guys that I learn more sitting in the shop than I do at school," Smith said with a smile. "It seems like you learn something new everyday in the race shop. There are so many ingredients into making this ASA car go fast, everyday I get home from school, I go out there and I learn something interesting."

The goal in high school is to learn things that will apply to his future. Smith says his mission is nearly accomplished.

"Don't get me wrong, I learn something at school everyday and I know that is going to help me when I get home and start messing with the racecar. I've learned different things in math that I have applied to the roll-center of the car. I've used things I have learned in geometry class too. Then I've taken a lot of mechanical courses in school that teach me all kinds of fabrication things, like working with metal and teaching me to weld better."

Smith is also learning how to work with Hamke, who signed on to be the team's crew chief just before the season-opener in Lakeland, FL. Hamke has worked with numerous ASA competitors over the years and is trying to help Smith get the #08 "Tobacco Is Foul" team up near the front on a consistent basis.

"Robert has been great to work with," added Smith. "Working with him is definitely a learning experience, but I really enjoy the relationship. He is great with cars and he teaches me as we go. This is the first time I've ever been able to come off the track and I know he's going to take care of business. I can just explain the way my car is handling and he is going to make it as good as he can. He had the car so dialed in at Lakeland that we were practicing on old tires at the same speed the top cars were running during the race."

Smith also had to learn another lesson a couple week's ago at USA Int'l Speedway; it's a lesson he hoped he would have to ever face. The team failed to make the ASA season-opener in Lakeland. It was disappointing for Smith and on the team, especially since they were practicing in the top-15 all day long. It was the first time he has ever failed to make a race.

"We came right back to the shop and tried to figure out what was going on with the car. We figured some things out and we've taken some preventative measures to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

Casey and the team will try to turn around their season at Houston Motor Speedway on April 12, when the ASA Series visits the Longhorn State for the Texas 250.

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