A chance encounter with the administration of the Australian National Drag Racing Association is what lead to aircraft engineer and skydive instructor Ashley Smith to become the Super Sedan drag racer he is today.
Three years later, the Jingili resident and owner of Top End Tandems is preparing for back-to-back Summit Equipment Racing Sportsman Championship events this weekend, starting with this weekend’s Nitro Up North event at Hidden Valley Raceway (8 and 9 July) ahead of Alice Springs’ Desert Nationals the following weekend (16 and 17 July).
“Three years ago I took then ANDRA CEO Malcolm Bulley and his off-sider Jennifer Harrison skydiving as part of my day to day business, and they told me all about why they were in Darwin,” said Smith.
“I thought to myself, this sounds really cool, so I went to check out the event and I was hooked. I bought my 1973 Camaro Super Sedan soon after from the United States and haven’t looked back.”
For Smith, he will be one of a number of local racers taking to the Hidden Valley Raceway for the event, but he doesn’t expect any kind of home track advantage.
“I don’t believe any track is different to any other track when it comes to things like giving you a home track advantage – it is straight up and down, you see the lights, and you go!” said Smith.
“The only advantage would be knowing where to line up and things like that, but when I drove to Melbourne for Calder Park earlier this year I had no idea and everyone was very helpful and in the end, it was all the same – you still have to go when the lights go green!”
While he might not be relying on any home track advantage, Smith is clearly a fan of his local facility, and also that of Alice Springs.
“Hidden Valley is a great track, it is very good government-owned facility and the government has done a lot of work on it,” said Smith, who races with the support of his 17 year old daughter Alicia who is his pit crew.
“Once we are done there we will drive the 1500 kilometres to Alice Springs. We are going to be racing in the warmth of the day but it is a good track, and as I have worked at the airport there I will be able to catch up with a few people during the two days of racing.
“Both events are going to be really good – the people are great, the racing will be good not just for those racing but for those spectating as well, and I really hope that people come out to see the action.
“For both events my game plan and my goals are the same – be consistent, don’t red light and be up with the winners!
“I really hope we see a good number of spectators and racers at both events – I think it is really good to get out and go to different places. I have found that when I drove down to Melbourne it was a really fun meeting and I met a lot of new people who were very friendly and ready with advice. If you can do it, you should – drive to different places, and race somewhere else or spectate somewhere else, for the experience, it is worth it.”