The reigning NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle World Champion made the decision to switch from Buell to Suzuki in the offseason.
However, he didn’t get rid of his championship-winning Buell and that was a good thing this weekend.
Smith brought his Buell back to compete in the high-altitude Mile-High Nationals.
Smith rode the Buell to a dominating victory in 2021 at the Mile-High Nationals and history repeated itself Sunday at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colorado, just outside of Denver.
Smith clocked an elapsed time of 7.097 seconds at 190.22 mph to beat Joey Gladstone’s 7.163 second lap at 185.43 mph.
“This bike (the Buell) is a** bad,” Smith said. “The decision was that we used our Suzuki all year. And basically we just don’t have all the bits and pieces to have a spare engine. And I’ve never driven a Suzuki here. So, I just thought that instead of coming here and trying my luck, I had a V-twin who won this race last year. And why not take it out? Because he’s just sitting in the top of the trailer. We transport it.
“So I decided to roll it out and do it. And it paid off, because, more qualifying, won the race, set both ends of the track record. You can’t ask for much more. Smith is believed to be only the second Pro Stock Motorcycle rider in NHRA history to win on two bike brands. The first would be the late Dave Schultz.
Smith clocked a record speed of 190.03 mph in her semi-final win over Angelle Sampey. It was the first time a Pro Stock Motorcycle racer had gone 190 mph at Bandimere Speedway. He then improved the mph record in the final run. Smith also set the track record with an elapsed time of 7.090.
It was Smith’s 34th career national event victory and second of the season, as he also won in Houston.
Smith, who qualified No. 1, had a victory parade that consisted of a first-round bye, second-round win over Marc Ingwersen, Angelle Sampey and Gladstone.
It’s Smith’s fourth career victory at Thunder Mountain following wins in 2007, 2008 and 2021.
“Oh, that’s cute. Every time you get a win, that’s great, because those things are hard to come by,” Smith said. “You never know when it’s your last. Don’t take it not for granted because this could be your last. I would have really liked to race Angie (Smith’s wife) in the final. She also had the bike to beat, and something happened in the semi. We don’t know which he missed a few times, and she slowed down. And I wish she was there, but overall, the DENSO brand, Lucas Oil, everyone who helps us, we got the win and we brought her home.
Despite the success of his Buell, Smith wasn’t ready to ride the bike at the next national event in Sonoma, Calif., July 22-24.
“I hate to put her back at the top of the trailer, but that’s probably what’s going to happen eventually,” Smith said. “We’re going to save her for the countdown. If I need it, it will be there.
“I don’t know for sure yet,” Smith said of running the Buell in Sonoma. “That’s the honest answer. I need to talk to Lisa. We could race the Suzuki on Friday. If I’m not satisfied, I might retire the V twin for Saturday. I don’t know for sure yet, but I want to race the Suzuki. The Suzuki seems to have an advantage at more sea level. Of course, the V twin was better at altitude. So I want to do what’s best for my sponsor. I want me or Angie trying to win the race in Sonoma. You always want to win your sponsor’s race.
Although Smith hasn’t raced his Buell since the end of last season, he had no qualms about using the bike in Denver.
“We came here last year, went 11 three times and went 189,” Smith said. “So I knew I had the tune-up. I just loaded the same app for Q1. And, on the first pass, I thought the bike was exploding, because it was vibrating so hard going down the track. I almost squeezed the clutch on the eighth mile, but said, “No.” I just dropped it. We have plenty of engines. When they told me it was a 10, I thought to myself ‘Holy cow’. I’ve been on Suzuki, because Suzuki is such a smooth ride. And the V twin vibrates so much that I wasn’t prepared for it like I thought, but I rode it well all weekend. And we dominated. We have won the victory.
The Suzukis led the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, but Smith didn’t worry about them on Sunday.
“I told tech when, after the first run, I said, ‘Those guys, everybody missed them. They just missed it,” Smith said. “They even came, after Q4, after we went, what, 7.09? The NHRA came and tore us down. And I said to him, I said, ‘Look, these guys can run within two, three hundredths of us, I feel like.’ And Joey came here and won a 15 today. And Eddie turned 14 today. So we know they can run. They just lacked a bit of focus. And I’m sure another year here with this, they’ll slide in. The Suzukis will definitely be one hundred percent better next year.