Clint Smith previews WoO Late Models stops at Duck River and Tazewell

Clint Smith

Clint Smith

When discussing upcoming races for the World of Outlaws Late Models, there are few better sources to go to than Clint Smith. The veteran racer has run with that series for a number of years and has seen many of the tracks on the schedule multiple times. The Georgia native is looking forward to his trip into the Volunteer State this coming weekend as an opportunity to keep his program moving in a positive direction.

Coming into the Tennessee weekend, Smith believes his team is on the right track for a good season. And oddly enough, recent rainouts suffered by the World of Outlaws may have helped his cause.

“Yeah, that was a bad and a good thing,” driver of the Rocket Chassis #44 said of the rain. “We had some trouble down in Florida with a fuel system and messed up a couple of motors that we didn’t need to do, and that kind of got us behind the 8-ball. But I’ve got a new team with a full crew and better equipment so hopefully our racing is going to turn the corner. We kind of got ourselves shot in the foot early.

“Like I said,” Smtih added, “the rain out could be a good thing and a bad thing because it gave us another week to get more prepared and build our program right back up again as we’re about to get into the heart of the season in about month, and that’s what we need to be ready for. We’re in the top-10 in points with an outside shot of getting to the top-5 so we’re going to ‘hunker down’ like we say here in Georgia and try to get some good finishes and get some organization going on where we aren’t shooting ourselves in the foot.”

On Friday night, the WoO Late models will race on the lightning quick quarter-mile of the Duck River Raceway Park in Wheel, Tenn. It will be only the second visit to that middle Tennessee facility for the series.

“I like Duck River,” the host of The Southern Race Report radio show declared. “For its size and all, there’s more racing there than you usually have on tracks like that. That’s one of the best ones around. Since Bob Harris took over, I think it’s gotten even better. They’ve done a lot of improvements there.

“We had a tough time getting it in last year with all the rain,” Smith said of the event held at Duck River in 2013 which was eventually won by Kentucky’s Eric Wells. “We still had a pretty good show so hopefully we can come in there and do good.”

As for the second stop of the WoO double-header weekend, Smith has many more memories to call on when getting himself and his car prepared. The Tazewell Speedway, with its super high banks, is one of the most unique racing venues in the country. It has the ability to produce high speeds as well as intense action.

“I’ve been going to Tazewell since the ’80s,” the driver often known as ‘Cat Daddy’ recalled. “I raced there in the ’84-’85 area with the Southern All Stars. I think I ran 4th and Jeff Purvis won the first time I was there. I’ve always liked going there. It sure is a high banked place. The banking used to supply the speed for the older type cars. The speed of the place with these new cars hurts it a little bit with all the updates on these cars, it’s supersonic all the time up there.”

Smith says that track preparation will be the key to determining the quality of racing on the tight bullring located in the upper east Tennessee mountains.

“Hopefully they’ll have it slowed down some and we can put on a good race this time,” he said during a telephone interview. “It’s hard for a racer to say that it’s better to be slower, but it is better when it’s slowed down a little bit.”

The World of Outlaws regular remembers a time in which all the factors came together for great racing in Tazewell.

“Three years ago we were there and had a pretty good feature,” he recounted. “I think Shane Clanton won it. I started toward the back and came up to about 5th or 6th. It was a good race track that night. The bottom came in and you could race on it because it was slowed down and didn’t rubber. That’s the biggest fine line they’ve got there. If they get it too dry it rubbers up and if it’s too wet it’s supersonic. I wouldn’t want to be the guy that fixes the race track trying to hit that happy medium.”

With action happening so quickly on a third-mile track that often features lap times under 12 seconds, Smith says the key to a good finish sometimes comes from avoiding the almost inevitable ‘big one’.

“It seems like there that if you don’t get in a wreck on the first double-file start, you usually don’t get a scratch on the car the rest of the night. It’s actually a pretty wide place to race. I’m not going to say it’s my favorite place, but I don’t mind going there at all because it’s so much different.”

And racing on Gary Hall’s high speed facility is not the only challenge confronted by racers going to Tazewell. Smith says that getting up to the track can make for a fun ride in the hauler, if the driver knows how to handle the winding roads.

“It helps if you’ve been there before,” he points out. “I know where you have to get after it going down the hill so you can get up the next one. I’d hate for law enforcement to be sitting at the bottom of the hill because you’d probably get a ticket. You just space out to where you can’t see anybody in front of you then go like you’re on a roller coaster. There’s one hill that’s really fun.”

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