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Dirt Track Diary: Engine Skips And Near Misses

Contributing Writer | , RacinToday.com Thursday, August 16 2012

Clint Smith had a tough trip to the Midwest but he's going back for more.

By Clint Smith
Special to RacinToday.com

(Editor’s note: Veteran dirt racer Clint “Cat Daddy” Smith of Senoia, Ga., has been racing and winning since 1981. He has more than 200 feature wins to his credit. Before he started driving, he worked on the car driven by his father, legendary racer and car-builder Roscoe Smith.

Clint Smith currently competes on the World of Outlaws Late Model tour as well as other races when his schedule permits. He has consented to write a series of Dirt Track Diary stories for RacinToday.com. What follows is the third installment of that series.

In this edition, Smith confronts a friend, watches another friend switch to doubles and puts his daughter to work.)

We started off on our latest trip for Shawano, Wis., but the race got rained out there so we went on to Cedar Lake, Wis., so we could get a good parking spot and get set up for the USA Nationals.

The first night was sort of a practice night, but they ran a race. It was called the Corn Belt Clash and it paid $5,000 to win. We got unloaded and tuned up for that. We made the race, but we were running at the back and kind of getting beat around. The big money was the next night, so I pulled off about Lap 10 because my stuff was pretty good for the USA Nationals.

We got ready the next day for that. I qualified 22nd and started fifth in the heat. I drove straight to third and made the show. It was $2,000 to start and $50,000 to win, so it was good to get in that show.

We started the feature, and I drove right up to seventh early, actually got to fifth at one time. Then we had a battery issue. The motor got to skipping with about 20 to go, and I faded back to seventh.

That’s where we finished up, but we had a hard battle with Scott Bloomquist there at the end.

We had a day off the next day so we went to Pat Doar’s place and had a cookout and a wash-the-car day.

We loaded up that night and went over to Independence, Iowa, and got parked.

We had a good car there, but we still had a skipping problem. I qualified about 16th or 17th, started fifth in the heat and drove to second behind Rick Eckert.

We had an issue with a brake bleeder or we would have won the heat. But we still got in the redraw for the top eight cars. I drew a seven. Darrell Lanigan drew a two, but we knew we had a good race car.

We fixed the skipping problem. It turned out to be a crank trigger, which fires the cylinders.

We made a good tire choice and drove right to second by Lap 20, I think it was. I raced Lanigan hard for about 20 laps. At Lap 43 I got the advantage on him on the outside. He drove in there kind of hot I thought. When he did, he got in some holes and got to bouncing and got in the side of us and kind of killed us.

It knocked us up out of the cushion and let him get back by us. We just never recovered enough to get back by him.

I finished second, and when they came to interview me on the PA after the race, I was trying to be real selective in what I said because Lanigan and I travel together and we’re kind of like teammates. But it was pretty obvious that I got run over for the lead.

Everybody there knew what had happened, so I didn’t have to say it. The crowd kind of went crazy, so what else was there to say? I just got back in my car.

We did have an excellent race car there. He apologized and everything is good again, but it was a little hairy for a moment there.

From there we went back over to Shawano. We had gotten to sixth in points and were feeling good about our road trip but we got over there and had a bad qualifying run. Still we made the show and ran fourth in the heat race. We got to the feature and made some good adjustments. I drove up to ninth and had a good points night going. Chub Frank, who was just ahead of us in points, broke on Lap 3. I thought it was going to be a good night but we wound up breaking a J-bar bolt about Lap 30 and lost back to seventh in points.

We drove back home and got in about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon.

Shane Clanton had planned for everybody to be in Panama City on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for his wedding to Michelle Davies, but with the rainout it cut out one day of that.

We got there Wednesday night about 11. We had easy day Thursday, went out with Wade and Cindy Knowles from back home.

Shane and Michelle got married at 9:00 Friday morning on the beach. It was raining, but it quit long enough for them to get married.

We spent day with Ronnie Dobbins. Shane used to drive for him, as have lots of other drivers. Another storm came in that afternoon. We deiced we’d had enough of the rain, so we headed back.

My wife Kim and my daughter Jenna and I got back in about 11:00 that night.

We still had the car loaded up in trailer, so we decided to go to Dixie Speedway on Saturday night.

We went up there and fortunately dominated the show. Last time up there we got our butt kicked.

It was good to jump up there on top and show what we’d learned on the road in the last two months.

I won by half a track. My daughter and her boyfriend were my crew.

On Tuesday I hired a new crew chief. Derek Gahring. He used to be Chub Frank’s crew chief. He lives here close to me, but he likes to be in the road, so he gets the best of both worlds.

We head back out Thursday for a couple of shows in Michigan.

Contributing Writer | , RacinToday.com Thursday, August 16 2012
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