On Saturday, September 29, Rickie Smith stood at the starting line at Maryland International Raceway and wiped away a tear as thousands of appreciate IHRA fans acknowledged his selection as Torco’s CompetitionPlus.com’s No. 1 All Time Mountain Motor Pro Stock Driver.
It was the second of two major honors bestowed upon the King, North Carolina, resident in 2007, and significant because it coincided with the 30th anniversary of the class Smith helped pioneer.
In July, Smith was named to the inaugural Legends of Thunder Valley class at Bristol Dragway in recognition of his being the driver with the most wins in the history of the venerable facility. He was in impressive company that summer day, joining “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, IHRA founder Larry Carrier, and NHRA founder Wally Parks. It was high praise indeed.
“I’ve had some really big honors laid out on my plate this year,” Smith said. “It’s been over 35 years of hard work – I don’t know how to explain it – I’m just so thrilled over it. The good thing is that I’m still racing and I’m still able to enjoy it. Thank God Evan Knoll is helping me right now. He loves drag racing and he’s helped a lot of people. I’m just glad he’s not a NASCAR freak.”
When asked about his inclusion in the legends of Thunder Valley class, Smith said, “Wally Parks started this stuff. If it wasn’t for him waking up one day and having a vision for all of us to go racing I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had. Wally and Larry carrier, who started the IHRA, are both gone now. Me and Don Garlits are the only two left from the four who were honored at Bristol. I hope this isn’t a sign. I’m going to watch Garlits because if he goes away I’m going to stay by my doctor’s office. Seriously, though, I really appreciate all the honors.”