Matthew and I started the New Year off with a fun trip to Eagle River, Wis., with our good friend Harry Swanto and his fiancé Tami. The purpose of the trip, besides enjoying each other's company for a long weekend, was to do some snowmobiling, something I had never done before and Matthew had only tried once in the past.
Living in North Carolina, there isn't a lot of opportunity to ride a snowmobile so we were both excited to give it try. I was a little apprehensive but I thought, how different can it be from riding one of our Victory Motorcycles down a winding country road? It turns out it was a lot more like riding a Pro Stock Motorcycle than a street bike. Let me explain.
When we arrived there hadn't been much snow so the first afternoon we kept our beautiful Polaris snow machines pretty close to the house. You could tell those things had a lot of power but without a deep base of snow, we didn't want to damage them so we took it easy.
After our first ride we went down to a nearby lake and set up some ice-fishing rigs, another first for us. What you do is drill a hole in the ice and then bait several hooks on a line you lower down into the hole. Once set, you just leave them to soak rather than sit around and tend them. Since the water is so cold the fish move slow so you have to be extremely patient.
Our first night there a big snowstorm blew through and covered everything with a great layer of snow. In fact, it didn't stop snowing the rest of the time we were there so conditions just got better and better for riding.
With more trails open to explore, we were able to really get after it on those big Polaris snow machines and it was a blast. Unlike a street bike that you have immediate control over, a snowmobile is much more like our Victory Gunner Pro Stock Motorcycles in that you use your lower body and core to guide it to where you want it to go.
We rode 130 miles one day, stopping at little places along the way and meeting all kids of interesting people, and when we got back home that night you could definitely feel the ache from muscles you don't normal use. I imagine we would feel just as worn out if we could make 50 passes in a day.
The girls were exhausted so Matt and Harry went out to check the ice-fishing rigs and naturally they caught a giant fish that they took a bunch of photos of before releasing it back into the lake. Matthew is so lucky that way.
It was a great trip and we decided we'll definitely be back.
On our return, we loaded everything up and headed to Bradenton for some testing. It turns out it was really hot and super humid, with a corrected altitude of 2,400 feet, but we made a bunch of passes anyway and were thrilled with the results.
From this time one year ago when we first started our journey with Victory Motorcycles, we have gained nine-hundredths of a second. That's a huge performance jump and one that has us very excited about the coming season.
We are going to be so much better this year and I feel we can challenge for race wins and the championship. With the help we're getting from Elite Motorsports and the undying support of Mark Stockseth, I think our best days are right in front of us.
We'll squeeze in one more test session before Gainesville and then it'll be time to put Victory in the Victory Circle on a regular basis.
The majority of the off-season has been spent getting our beautiful Victory Gunners ready for a charge at the 2016 NHRA championship, and Matt's big Christmas present this year -- a flow bench -- hasn't seen much down time since it arrived at Matt Smith Racing headquarters in King, N.C.
Only a drag racer would be excited about receiving a flow bench for Christmas, and I can promise you that Matt is every bit as fired-up as a kid with a new bicycle out there playing with his toy. He's already learned so much to help us gain horsepower on our competition and as Victory's factory team, we have big plans to really shake things up in Pro Stock Motorcycle this year.
I did manage to pry him away from the shop for a long overdue vacation -- of course this was before Santa delivered the flow bench -- and this year we went to Grenada. When we got married we honeymooned at a Sandals Resort and we had such a good time that we continue to visit their properties one at a time. This year was no exception.
The island of Grenada is way down at the bottom of the Caribbean, almost all the way to Venezuela. From here we flew the short hop to Miami and then it was a four-hour flight to Maurice Bishop International Airport in Grenada.
You definitely start relaxing the moment you arrive. The people there were extremely friendly and happy and you could feel the stress leaving your body almost right away.
Matt is an avid scuba diver so he immediately wanted to set-up dives for every day of our vacation, which allowed me to set-up lots of time sitting by the pool sipping island drinks! When he wasn't in the water we did some sight-seeing and just hung around the resort meeting people and having fun.
Proving it's a small world, we met Kristina Montuori at our resort. It turns out Kristina is a meteorologist at WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Va., which just happens to be the station all the guys at the shop watch. They knew who she was right away. We hit it off and had dinners and drinks with Kristina and her husband John several times during our stay. Great new friends who we plan to introduce to drag racing very soon.
When we returned home we only had a few days and it was Christmas. My favorite gift was a really cool kitchen knife that is so awesome it cuts up oranges like they were made out of butter. I told Matt he better do some research and find me a good knife and he did. It's a win-win for him because I was happy and now I'm excited to cook more fancy dinners. I also got some Beats by Dre to wear during our travels.
Another great Christmas present for both of us was a new deal with Lucas Oil. Charlotte and Forrest Lucas do more for drag racing than anyone and we are so honored to have this chance to represent them at the races.
To ring in the New Year our friend Dwight Morrison scored us some tickets for the final regular season game for the Panthers. They are in high demand with the team doing so well but Dwight and his girlfriend Page Stephens found a way to put it over the top with reserved parking, a golf cart to drive around to all the tailgate parties and -- best of all -- passes to get us on the field during warm-ups. The mood was electric and we were just in awe of the size of those guys. Of course, they won the game to top it all off so our 2016 already is off to a great start.
Up next, we plan to get some testing in so I'll check back soon to tell y'all how that went. Until then, be safe!
It’s summer time. I hope everyone is taking those much needed vacations from work and school and enjoying the summer months. I know we are having a blast here at MSR. As usual we have been extremely busy with all types of racing. Matt got to do a little more than drag racing a couple of weeks ago.
We have a local track in North Carolina that is a short circle track. I practically grew up at Bowman Gray Stadium. It’s a bunch of fun to watch these guys go out and race a quarter-mile track with their race cars. Needless to say there is a lot of beating and banging every single weekend. This place is known for great racing and hot tempers on the race track. So being a fan of this place all my life of course I still go when we are not NHRA racing. A couple of times a year they have a race called the skid race. The rules are very minimal. All you need is a front-wheel-drive car and you have to make skids to go on the back. You take the rims and weld skids onto the rear wheels. Matt got him a car and was pumped up to go race.
Two races fell on weekends we were home so he was excited to go do a little circle track action. The first race he really didn’t know what to expect. They draw for starting position. Luckily he drew 2nd and finished 2nd. He spun out the car a few times but all in all he did good for his first outing. The second race was right before Norwalk race. Matt loaded up and headed over to the stadium for another night of racing. After drawing he was in position No. 1. His mentality was if I can just stay out front then I will be good. By the first turn he was already down to the 3rd position. By lap 3 he took the lead back over but shortly after that he was back to second. The battle was back and forth the whole race. On lap 8 he took the lead back over and got the white flag. Just one more lap and then he received the checkered flag and he was excited. It was always something he wanted to do and he finally got to do it. On top of it all he won the race. All of the skid plate racers at Bowman Gray Stadium were so nice to us and they helped Matt so much. Thank you to all of them. We will definitely see you guys next year.
We did get to load our truck and trailer up and the guys headed to Denver for the American Victory Rally Pike’s Peak event in June. That was a fun filled day for sure. The Victory bike was competing in the Pike’s Peak event on the weekend and they rented Bandimere Speedway for the pre-race festivities. We loaded the race bikes up and decided to make it a good test session before the Denver NHRA event. We made several passes down the track which was a great learning experience but most of all we got to hang out with some local Victory dealers and other Victory teams. The Victory stunt team of Joe and Tony were fun to hang with. I got to be a small part of their show. I was standing out in the middle and they were drifting around me. Those boys have got some skills for sure. We may have something up our sleeves for Sturgis with the stunt team. Stay tuned to my social media for updates. All in all it was a great test session at Bandimere as always and we are looking forward to racing on the mountain this year.
Matt had a great showing for Victory Racing in Chicago. He has finally found what his bike likes with all the new stuff this year. We had many new things including fuel, bodywork, and fuel injection system to start the season. Most people only change one thing at a time but all of the new stuff will be better as an end result. So he started the year with everything new. It is finally turning the corner and he couldn’t be happier. He qualified well in Chicago and going to the finals was just icing on the cake. He gave Hector Jr a run for the money. Matt was great on the Tree but just didn’t have enough at the finish line. Hector Jr did a great job and so did Matt. It was a very tight race with Hector Jr winning by .007. That’s what drag racing is all about.
We have put the new fuel injection system on my bike starting in Norwalk. We just have not found the “sweet spot” yet. Matt tested my bike on Monday after Norwalk and made nine passes in just a few hours. To say we were hot lapping it would be an understatement. I will say that qualifying 16th has been rewarding to me. Not many folks can say they qualified 16th 5 times and won three times. I’m not proud of qualifying 16th but I am very proud of my 1st round wins. In drag racing it is hard to qualify but then when you win it is very rewarding at the end of the day. We are steadily working on getting things figured out with my bike and hopefully we will have made more gains when we get to Denver this weekend.
Well glad I got to catch everyone up on what has been going on in the MSR world. I hope every single one of you gets a chance to make it out to a NHRA race this year and please stop by our pit area and say hi. Until next time, have a safe and wonderful summer.
We are two races into our racing season and it’s been a blast so far. I’m not sure if any of you attended either Gainesville or Charlotte but if you did I hope you came by our pit area. It has a new look to it as you will see. We now have a big hospitality area for all the Victory dealers who are attending races. Matt and I are so happy that we get to meet all of these folks across the nation. During the season also we will be doing a few giveaways that include tickets to our hospitality area for the weekend. So be sure to follow our social media sites for these exciting giveaways.
Matt and Victory have been diligently working on designing our new race body over the winter. We have now had it a couple of races and we really love it. It’s a new design to us and it will take us as riders a few races to get used to it especially me. It is different to me because the frontal area of the motorcycle is smaller which means there is more wind on me. I am getting it. It just takes seat time. In Gainesville for the last qualifying session Matt stepped up and put the new Victory Gunner in the No. 1 qualifying position for race day. We were all very proud of him. For us having a new race body with only a couple of test runs and for Matt to qualify No. 1 was a huge accomplishment for Victory and for our team.
I got in on the last session of qualifying only to have to race Matt first round. My philosophy is if you’re in you can win. I was happy that we got both bikes in the show at Victory’s first race. I know there has been a lot of talk about the “red rag” that came out of Matt’s bike for first round on Sunday. At times NHRA fuels our bikes in the lanes. When this happens we always keep our parts that we have made for our team covered. The throttle bodies just didn’t get uncovered and it went through the motor. He didn’t get to race me first round and it was bummer. On a positive side though at least there was a Victory bike in secondnd round. Charlotte race was two weeks later. We really didn’t have the showing we wanted for our hometown race. With only having two qualifying passes on Saturday I didn’t qualify and Matt qualified 14th which is uncharacteristic for him. We made the best of it. Matt eventually lost in the semifinals but all in all it was a good day. Any day at the racetrack is a good day. MSR has so many new factors this year with having new race bodies, new Sunoco fuel and I have a new bike. I promise we are getting it figured out as I speak and you will see improvements throughout the season.
Now for some bad news. My dachshund that I had for 10 years passed away on March 21. It has been so devastating to me and Matt. He was such a loving dog that traveled with me to all the races. Sammy had been racing with me since I started racing. Although he really didn’t like other dogs at the racetrack he had so many relationships with the people at the track. So many people poured out their love to me when he passed away and I thank you for helping me get through this very tough time. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him and think of him and all of the crazy little things he would do. Sammy can never be replaced in my heart. I know he is not suffering from his congestive heart failure anymore and he is enjoying his life in heaven.
To brighten my days and to help with the pain little did I know that Matt had purchased me a new little girl. At 4 weeks she wasn’t able to come see me yet. Matt had a plan. On April 11 we decided we were going to have dinner at his parents lake house. After dinner we were going by my sisters to see my nieces and nephew. While driving he wasn’t taking the right roads to get there. I kept telling him he didn’t know where he was going and he needed to turn around. He said I know where I am going. I kept telling him he did not know. He finally said I have a surprise for you. We are going somewhere really fast then going to your sister’s house. That calmed me down for a bit. When we pulled into the airport I was lost. I did not know what he was up to at this point. United Airlines called him to inform him that the little baby girl had arrived and he said I will be right there. He gets off the phone and says someone is coming to see you but they don’t have a cell phone. I was thinking who in the world doesn’t have a cell phone. So I was lost. We pull into baggage claim and he tells me to sit in the car. Then an airline lady comes out to get me stating that my husband needs me. So I went in and he was holding a precious little girl. I just started crying. She flew in from Oklahoma. She is a silver dapple miniature smooth haired dachshund. Yes, that’s a mouth full but she is so precious and I wouldn’t take anything in the world for her. Her name is Miss Coco and she is loving and very playful. I am sure you will see her at the races very soon. Come by and see her.
In closing it has been a very tough two months for me. I am getting back in the swing of things now. Just want to thank everyone for the love and support through the tough times I have had. Now it will be full speed ahead for racing season. We will have a few test sessions very soon then will be in Atlanta for the race. Stop by the pits and check out our new Victory bikes.