Danny Smith to Compete Full-Time with World of Outlaws in 2008 Danny Smith announced during a gathering on Saturday at the National Speed Sport News offices in Concord, North Carolina, that he will compete full-time with the World of Outlaws in...
Danny Smith to Compete Full-Time with World of Outlaws in 2008
Danny Smith announced during a gathering on Saturday at the National Speed Sport News offices in Concord, North Carolina, that he will compete full-time with the World of Outlaws in 2008. It will mark the first time in over 20 years that he will contest the entire World of Outlaws schedule.
Smith, one of the original "Outlaws" finished eighth in points in the series inaugural season of 1978. He won his first A-Feature event with the World of Outlaws in 1980. One of the biggest wins of his career was the 1985 Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California. He has eight career A-Feature wins with the World of Outlaws.
Smith will drive for Jeff Schrader from Beaver, Ohio, with Cale Powers turning the wrenches. The team will utilize Maxim race cars.
"I'm pretty excited for it," said Smith. "It's been a number of years since we have done the full tour. I have been on the road my entire life, so that is nothing new. I'm looking forward to running the full Outlaws schedule."
Smith began racing in 1974 at the age of 16 in Central Indiana. He was the co-winner of the famed Little 500 at Anderson Speedway in Indiana in 1978. In 1980, he drove the famed Kenny Rogers Gambler car with the World of Outlaws, finishing eighth in points. In his career, he has finished in the Top-10 in World of Outlaws championship standings six times, with a career-best finish of sixth in 1981.
Smith will visit a number of tracks next season that he has not competed at for many years, in addition to many of the tracks in the Midwest where he cut his teeth racing.
"There is really no home track advantage anymore," he noted. "Guys have been racing all across the country for so many years and can adapt to the track. Some of the tracks when we get there that I haven't been to for a while, I will probably remember where the restrooms and concession stands are, but that's about it. There are probably four, five or six tracks that I have not been to, and I look forward to going to those as well."
For Schrader, this will be his first foray into ownership of a winged 410-sprint car. The team will also have longtime racer and West Virginia native K.C. Spurlock helping out, by providing the truck and trailer for the team to use.
"I'm excited," said Schrader. "It took me 51 years to get this dream to come true and now it has. That is what we are going to call it, 'The Dream Tour.' Danny said that it has always been his dream to get back in with the Outlaws as well. We will have a dream come true in 2008."
Smith was one of the first American-born drivers to compete in Australia during the off-season, and is a six-time winner of the Warnabool Classic, one of the most prestigious races in Australia. He has a loyal legion of fans "Down Under" and also from coast-to-coast in the United States.
"I am one of the original Outlaws, so with it being their 30th anniversary that will be pretty cool," he noted. "We have some special paints schemes for the Knoxville Nationals and it will bring back some good memories. It should be a good fun year."
In his career, Smith has over 300 feature wins in winged and non-winged sprint cars. He was the 1976 track champion at Champaign Speedway in Illinois and the 1977 track champion at Lawrenceburg Speedway in Indiana. He was the 2003 Great Lakes Outlaw Sprint Series (GLOSS) champion. He has won races with numerous sanctioning bodies across the country, including: the NCRA (National Championship Racing Association, IRA (Interstate Racing Association), and USAC (the United States Automobile Club).
Schrader, who grew up in the Midwest always was a fan of Smith, and saw him compete on numerous tracks, but never met him until this year at sprint car racing's biggest event, the Knoxville Nationals at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa.
"He is an awesome driver," said Schrader. "I remember watching him clear back when he was in the Kenny Rogers Gambler car. Danny has always impressed me. I had never known him personally until a friend of mine introduced us and we just kind of clicked at Knoxville. He is a good person to be with, and he has a lot of experience and that helps a lot as well."
This past season, Smith won the owner's title with the All Star Circuit of Champions while finishing second in points. He finished in the Top-Five in points with the All Stars in each of the past four seasons, including three runner-up finishes over that course of time.
"This year was a really good year," said the veteran driver. "We got my personal life on track and everything ironed out. We were focused on what we were doing and won a couple of All Star (Circuit of Champions) races and 10 open competition shows. It was a good year to get things going and that is some good momentum heading into the season with the Outlaws and you need that racing with them."
With the level of competition at an all-time high with the World of Outlaws in 2007, Smith expects it to be just as tough next season. He looks to take it one race at a time and use his experience at a number of tracks that the World of Outlaws visit to establish a good foundation for the 2008 season, which currently has 92 events on the schedule.
"The goal never changes, no matter what series you are in, and that is to win every night," Smith said. "You can't win them all, and that is pretty obvious. We want to have a good consistent season and if we are not up there winning races, we want to be in the Top-Five and Top-10. We hope to get up there in the points as far as we can and put on a good show."