For Alyssa Smith’s parents, the mold was cast early on. If they thought she was not going to be a racer, all they had to do was look in the garage. From the time she was a toddler, she was in there with her father, successful racer Tom “Slick” Smith, as he worked on his race cars. Falling asleep on a creeper alongside her dad in the garage while he toiled away, it was her place to dream, and her dream place.
I definitely like racing on dirt more, but it is always fun to try something new – Alyssa Smith
“Ever since I was young, I was always in the garage,” the 16-year-old Norco, California, high school junior said. “When I was a baby, I would fall asleep in a little swinger in the garage. I just always wanted to be in the garage working, and I always wanted to race.”
Racing Is In The Family Tree
Today, the blonde-haired racer is establishing herself as a top dirt track driver with a bright future in the sport. That had to be expected from the daughter of a successful, second-generation dirt track racing father. Among her dad’s championship trophies rests a Perris Street Stock and IMCA Modified title, as well as a Figure-8 crown from the Irwindale Speedway.
“She has always loved dirt track and dirt bike racing,” Alyssa’s mom Amanda McCain Smith said. “When she was about six-years-old, she asked if she could race her 50cc dirt bike. We took her to watch the 50cc class at Industry Speedway, and she instantly wanted to do that. By the time she was seven-years-old, she was racing. Now, she would race every Saturday if we let her. If Perris [Perris Auto Speedway] isn’t racing, she is on the Internet looking at different tracks where her car could race and fit into the class rules.”
Smith’s ascension to her prowess in the Street Stocks did not happen overnight, as she has been honing her skills for a decade. She was winning races on her motorcycle long before her 10th birthday, in front of thousands of fans at Industry Speedway and the world-famous Costa Mesa Speedway. From there, she moved into the Speedway Sprints – Mini Sprint Car style race cars powered by motorcycle engines – at Wheel2Wheel Raceway in Victorville, California.
Factory Stocks And Beyond
Late in the 2015 season, Smith’s parents moved her from the Speedway Sprints at Victorville to the full-size Factory Stock Class at Perris. After getting her feet wet at only 12-years-old, she won the Winter Series Factory Stock Championship. She did likewise the following winter, and then in 2017, she won the regular-season Factory Stock title.
While popular with the fans, another aspect of her winning ways was causing what can be described as discontent among her fellow competitors. The friendly teen stayed removed from the track drama, continued to do well, and support the other drivers. Ignoring any rivalries, Alyssa set her sights higher. “It did not hurt me at all,” the teenager said. “If anything, It just made me want to come out and win. In no time at all, adversaries became friends and everyone was richer for the experience.
It just made me want to come out and win even more. – Alyssa Smith
Street Stock Transition
Having done all she could do in the Factory Stock class, her parents moved her up to the tough – and highly competitive – Street Stock class at Perris in 2018. There, she would encounter a much more powerful car and a field of longtime, top-notch dirt track racers. Nobody could have predicted what would happen in the Street Stocks. It was to be a learning period. However, the learning was what a lot of the competition did. Being a rookie – and the only female in the class – she finished Third in points, and she placed in the top-five in five of the eight races on the season, including the last four in a row.
“I did not expect that at all,” she said with a smile when reflecting upon ending up Third for the year. “It took me a couple of practices and a couple of races, and I was getting frustrated every time. It was definitely different. In Factory Stocks, you just kinda drive it around [the corners]. In Street Stocks, you have to pitch it sideways. It took me a little bit of time, but I was happy how I finished my first season.”
While her focus has been on dirt, she gave pavement racing a go at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, California, last year. “I like it, and it was a lot of fun,” she said. “I definitely like racing on dirt more, but it is always fun to try something new”
One problem Smith had was her schedule. In addition to being a top Stock Car racer, she was also a talented softball player on the Norco High School team. That has caused problems aplenty for her over the past few years. Softball games on Saturday’s sometimes overlapped into her racing schedule, forcing a mad dash to get to the racetrack. That changed a few weeks ago when she announced that this season was going to be her last year playing softball.
“It is definitely hard at times as I sometimes have to go from three games on a Saturday to racing that night,” she said. “Racing has definitely been my number-one priority. After this season I am ending softball so I can concentrate on racing.”
Thus far, in the first two races of 2019 at Perris Auto Speedway, she has a Second and Fourth Place finish. Going into her next race on June 15th, she is Third in the championship standings, only five points out of Second and six points out of the lead. In addition, she has also hit Ventura Raceway and already won two main events there this year. A couple of weeks ago, the family traveled to Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, Arizona, for the first time, coming home with a Third Place trophy.
Like her dad, Smith hopes to have a long racing career. She is in it for the long run, and that may be a bad omen for the competition she encounters along the way.