Nationals Super Gas victory highlight of almost 50 years in drag racing for Melbourne’s Smith Family Veteran Melbourne drag racing competitor and official, Ian Smith has described his and son Warren’s win at the recent Fuchs Australian Nationals at Sydney Dragway as the highlight of the family’s almost 50 years in the sport.
A lifelong fan, Smith senior attended the first Australian Nationals at the now defunct Riverside stripin Melbourne in 1965, most likely with his now 48 year old son as a babe-in-arms.
Members of the Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) and competitors since themid-late ‘70s, the closest the family had previously come to a Nationals crown was a runner-up finish in 2003, the same year they won the Australian Super Gas Championship and #1 plate.But that all changed a little over two weeks ago (Sunday, 19 September) when Warren drove the family’s Chev Beretta to the Super Gas title to finally secure a coveted Nationals trophy.He defeated Sydney’s Michael Stivala in a close final, Warren’s 9.908sec run defeating Stivala’squicker 9.903 on a holeshot.
“The Nationals remains the pinnacle of Australian drag racing and winning it is without doubt the highlight of our 40-plus years in the sport – we’ve been on cloud nine ever since,” Ian Smith said.
“Seeing the win light come on in our lane was a proud moment for us all, but I am mostly proud ofhow Warren drove.”
“We had a slight issue in qualifying but he was unfazed and top qualified.”
“Warren won the final at both ends of the track, he took a holeshot start and judged the stripe to perfection,” he said.
“Considering the little racing we do with his work commitments and the lack of championship drag racing in Melbourne, Warren did a tremendous job.”
In addition to competing, Smith senior had a distinguished career behind the scenes, serving as ANDRA Chairman for 10 years and as Calder Park Raceway Meeting Director during the sport’s halcyon days through the 1990s.
His services to drag racing were recognised by the Federal Government in 2000 when he was awarded an Australian Sports Medal. Warren followed his father and mother, Faye, in their professional careers working in the television industry and is a highly respected sports video producer working on AFL, Olympics, V8 Supercars and other major sporting telecasts.Such is the respect in which he is held that his Nationals victory was highlighted on the recent V8 Supercars L&H 500 broadcast from Phillip Island – Warren unaware until his final round race was shown nationally to a live audience.
The Smiths said their win would not have been possible without the help and support of a number of people, particularly long-time team member and cousin, Mal Christie, Kevin McClelland and Alan Hutchinson at Cove Automotive, who looks after the mechanical work on their winning Beretta.