After 30 years in racing it isn’t often Wayne Smith has a new first time experience – but that will be the case at Riverside International Speedway September 18 when he makes his NASCAR debut in the Komatsu 300, a Canadian Tire Series national event.
Smith, from Halifax, has put together a deal with Riverside International Speedway and Antigonish’s Nova Racing to run as a teammate to Donald Chisholm, a part-time competitor on the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and the only “Maritimer” to compete in Riverside’s NASCAR event since its inception in 2007.
“This came together pretty fast over the past couple of weeks,” said Smith. “It is exciting and I am looking forward to being a part of Riverside’s NASCAR show. I’ve gone to watch the event since they started, but really didn’t imagine the day would come that I would be in one of them.”
The day has come as a result of Riverside’s search to see another local racer compete against the best NASCAR has to offer in its Canadian national series.
“We’ve always wanted to see more local talent in the NASCAR race,” said Paul McLean, general manager of Riverside International Speedway. “But we also understand it is a huge financial commitment to buy a car, hire a pit crew that can do pit stops, invest in the NASCAR licensing, and pass the NASCAR scrutiny that every driver who applies for a NASCAR license goes through."
“When Nova (Racing) got a second NASCAR race car earlier this year it presented a more feasible opportunity for a local racer to enter the Komatsu 300,” continued McLean. “We’re thrilled to have Wayne in the car.”
And Smith is thrilled to be there.
“I really want to thank John Chisholm (Nova and Riverside owner), Donald Chisholm and Paul McLean for putting this together,” said Smith. “They are giving me the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream in racing with NASCAR.”
While Smith has multiple wins at Riverside in his pro stock race car, he is unsure what to expect when he climbs behind the wheel to practice his NASCAR entry at some point in the near future.
“I’ve talked to Donald quite a bit about that,” said Smith, a five-time Maritime touring series champion. “He tells me the cars are fun to drive but noticeably different than the pro stocks. Even though they have a little more horsepower they are 300 lbs heavier – so you basically lose what you gain. We’re going to give it our best shot.”
Smith is in the throes of completing the NASCAR paperwork to submit for his competitor license with an approval process that would be the same if he was applying for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series license. He will also need to put together a pit crew that can make green flag pit stops – another anomaly for Smith, who plans to use some of his pro stock crew along with some of Nova’s more experienced guys.
“We’ve not run green flag stops on the local scene for many years,” said Smith, “and while my guys are the best at what we do every week on the pro stock tour, we’ll need a little more diversity, and practice, so a slow pit stop doesn’t ruin our day.”
Smith’s NASCAR will bear No. 98 and NASCAR’s mandatory decal package, but not much else at this point, as he looks for corporate support to help his costs for the nationally televised event that has traditionally attracted more than 5,000 fans annually.
In the meantime he and Chisholm will continue their rivalry as competitors on the Maritime Pro Stock Tour where they are currently separated by just three points with Smith third overall and Chisholm fourth – and both with realistic shots at the 2010 title. Both drivers have a win on the series this year where, after nine of 11 events, Chisholm has an average finish of 5.55 and Smith an average finish of 5.66. The 2010 Pro Stock Tour concludes September 11 in Halifax.
The next weekend, on September 18, Smith and Chisholm and a host of NASCAR Canadian Tire Series regulars will compete in the Komatsu 300 at Riverside International Speedway. New for 2010, the Komatsu 300 boasts a 4:30 p.m. green flag start time, preceded by qualifying time trials at 2:30 p.m. and an on-track autograph session at 3:15 p.m. The Napa Sportsman Superseries will see its 2010 season finale and championship race at Riverside on Friday September 17, starting at 7 p.m.
Advance tickets for the Komatsu 300 are now available; adult ticket prices range from $45 to $55 for a weekend pass, and from $35 to $45 for Saturday only adult tickets. For more information please call 902.863.2410 or visit www.riversidespeedway.ca.
Sponsorship inquiries for Wayne Smith’s NASCAR entry should be directed to Paul McLean at 902.863.9614.
Riverside International Speedway is a 1/3-mile high banked asphalt oval, is located in James River, between New Glasgow and Antigonish, at exit 30 off Trans Canada Highway 104. Opened in 1969, the facility was completely rebuilt in 2006 to become a premiere motorsports site, comparable to the best short tracks in Canada and the U.S. For more information about Riverside International Speedway, please visit www.riversidespeedway.ca or call 902.863.2410.