Drag Illustrated Issue 168, May 2021 | Page 72

a championship in 2004 . Being the only female in that class in the outlaw ranks , was there that constant challenge of trying to prove people wrong ?
It was very tough on me . They were mean , and you hear all these stories that Angelle would tell , how people were mean to her at the beginning of her career . I went through the same thing , just not on the NHRA professional level . But I went through the same thing . People telling me that you can ’ t do it , you don ’ t need to do it , or , “ You need to get in the kitchen , you need to cook something .” You name it . They were as mean as it gets , and it was a little bit of everybody — racer ’ s wives , racers , fans , a little bit of everybody . I think that ’ s why that I have the thick skin that I have these days . But it has made me so much better .





Did it ever cross your mind that it wasn ’ t worth it or did comments like that just drive you ?
It would drive me , but there were times when you ’ re vulnerable when you ’ re not doing well on the bike , and when you ’ re struggling , because I don ’ t care how long you drag race , you have struggles . So when you ’ re struggling and they ’ re beating you up , you ask yourself questions : “ Is this for me ? Should I be doing this , or do I just need to go in a different direction ?” But it ’ s at those moments when you ’ re at rock bottom , is when you pick yourself up and you get more determination than ever .
From there , more success and opportunities came for Smith as she built on that championship . But a funny thing also happened , as one of her fiercest rivals — one Matt Smith — soon became something else . Angie and Matt lived within an hour of each other , both raced Outlaw Pro Street and both were successful . But while Angie was trying to find her way , she saw Matt ’ s impressive success as arrogance .
She now sees it as simply confidence and her husband being “ just good at what he does .” It ’ s a relationship that has been incredibly important , both on the track and certainly off it as well . It ’ s also taken significant work from each to make it work — along with some early rough waters .
How did this relationship between Matt and yourself develop ?
Matt and I were fierce rivals . I didn ’ t like him . He liked me , but I didn ’ t like him . I didn ’ t want to go out on a date with him . I mean , I didn ’ t even want to ride his Pro Stock bike because I didn ’ t like him . But he ’ s very persistent , I ’ ll say that . He just wore me down , I guess , and I finally went out with him . And he finally convinced me to come and test one of his Pro Stock bikes . Then I went to Rockingham in October of 2007 and tested one of his bikes and I did pretty well at it . After that , that ’ s when I said , “ Maybe I can go Pro Stock Motorcycle racing .”
It was important to him that you learn about the engine and mechanical side of things , too . Did that happen right away ?
No , I didn ’ t start learning how to help and do motors until about 2012 . I took a back seat with it for the first five years that he and I were together . When you start running more than one motorcycle and more than two motorcycles , you got to have hands-on help , and there ’ s no use in him doing it all himself . That ’ s when I had to start learning how to do this stuff .
So how do you make it work ? It seems like it can be strenuous at times , but it also seems like you have both made the most of it .
It ’ s a lot of giving , a little take , and with me and him being both stubborn people , very strongwilled people , you have to pick your battles and you have to pick them very cautiously . There are battles you don ’ t want to fight . You have to pick the battles that are worth fighting about . We eat , sleep , drink , race , everything together , 24 / 7 . It ’ s very challenging , and then there are days I ’ m sure he wants to kill me . There are days that I want to kill him , and it ’ s just at the end of the day , you have to get through it . I wouldn ’ t want it any other way .
We both work well together . There are things that I catch that he doesn ’ t , and things that he catches that I don ’ t . So I think when we function together , we function at 150 percent , which is good . We hardly ever have anything go wrong . But
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