Texas Teen Staying Busy With Tire Test, School and Promotions
"It is an amazing thing just to think that I am going to be an ASA rookie. It is an understatement to say I am real excited about it. I can remember when I was five and Dad would turn on the TV and I would watch Mike Eddy, Butch Miller, Gary St. Amant and all the greats battle it out. I just loved watching it, more than Winston Cup racing, because this was tough, bumping and banging short track racing. I knew I wanted to race there someday."
Smith got an early start to his rookie year, as he made his debut in the "Tobacco is Foul" car and signed autographs for fans at the recent Houston Auto Show. Record crowds poured in the Reliant Center for more than 10-days and many of them stopped at Casey's car to learn more about the "Tobacco is Foul" message and the ASA Racing Series.
He's a teenager, a non-smoking advocate, a senior at Bowie High School in Texas and now an American Speed Association Rookie of the Year candidate. Casey Smith and the Smith Racing team have announced their plans to race ASA full-time in 2003 and compete for the $50,000 Rookie of the Year title.
Smith began racing when he was five, in 1990 when Bob Senneker was ASA champion. He started in the quarter midget ranks, graduated to Legends cars and eventually to the highly-competitive Late Model division.
Now Smith heads to what many consider the top short track racing series in the country.
"ASA is a great series; it's the place to run to prove yourself as a great driver," said the 17-year-old Smith, driver of the Texas Department of Health number 08 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. "We ran six races last year andwe feel that we have a great team to make a full run at the rookie title this year. I know we have a team that can run in the top-five.
Smith's #08 will be on the track for the entire 2003 season.
Smith grew up watching Gary St. Amant (above) race in ASA on TV.
BFGoodrich has also chosen Smith to conduct a tire test at Houston Motor Speedway. The Smith Racing team will work closely with BFGoodrich tire engineers to see how the tires react to the half-mile track before ASA makes its series debut at the facility on May 12.
"I feel very fortunate that BFGoodrich wants to work with us on this tire test because it will teach us a lot more about these racecars and how they react with BFG radial tires. These tires are a lot different than the tires I race on in the Late Models. We will head up to the track and work as closely with them as we can. I think it will give us a definite advantage when it comes time to race later in the year."
The "Tobacco is Foul" campaign is aimed at young Texans, specifically in the Houston-Beaumont/Port Arthur area. It is part of a pilot project funded by money from the 1998 Texas Tobacco Settlement. Last year, the project led to a 40-percent reduction in middle school tobacco use in the Houston-Beaumont/Port Arthur area.
"We know there will be plenty of struggles this year. Since we are a team still looking for sponsorship help, we won't be able to test at all the tracks we need to," Casey commented. "But I still feel that we are good enough to be a top-10 car and maybe even a top-five car. If we can get the consistency we need and the right people behind us, we might be quite a surprise to everyone in ASA."
Casey and the team are still looking for other sponsors to help them run during the 2003 season. For inquiries, call 512-282-6845.