figure that out , and then I had to figure out the aspects of what made me different .
What makes me different is I work on the bike , I ’ m very heavily involved in the race team . I do some of the other things . I understand the motorcycle . I can talk shop with people that understood shop talk when some other people can ’ t , and a lot of things like that . With corporate America , you have to be professional , you have to walk the walk and talk the talk .
One of the things that goes along with being a professional is you have to get up and you have to put yourself together , no matter how bad you feel , how sick you are .
There are going to be days that you ’ re sick of the racetrack . You have to put your face on and you have to go out there , you have to smile , and you have to get through it because it ’ s your job . I ’ m not one to sit in the trailer . I like to interact with people . I like to interact with fans , with fellow racers . I think that sets me apart from other racers .
I try to put my input in little stuff . It ’ s a little paying attention to detail and things like that , and I think I take a huge role in that because I ’ m very detail-oriented . I think when you function as a team , you got to be a team . It ’ s little things like that , that go a long way in the world of corporate America .
OF POWER 2021
You ’ ve seemingly got that down pat and your relationship with Denso seems to be thriving because of it . The way you ’ ve embraced that partnership has been noticeable throughout the industry . How have you made it work so well and how has it embodied your whole thought process of being successful in your career ?
I didn ’ t have a sponsor and I was sitting out runs , and I was looking for a sponsor . [ Denso Marketing Communications Manager Lisa Michler ] happened to walk up at the right moment and talked to Matt about it . We put something together , and I did five races the first year , and then the next year , I did all of the races . Lisa is a wonderful person , and Denso ’ s a wonderful company for many reasons . Lisa comes to the track , she interacts with us . For the Denso employees , we get to give them feedback about spark plugs and the things that we use .
They take that back and they make changes to their products if they need to . They ’ re very handson and very involved in our program . There ’ s a lot of corporate America companies out there that just write the check and get the sponsorship , and then that ’ s it .
Denso is very hands-on , and I love that , that they are so heavily involved , that they come to the racetrack . They care about me and Matt . They want to know , every Monday , how we did at the race and what was going on . From a racer standpoint , that makes you feel good inside because a lot of sponsors aren ’ t involved like that .
It ’ s very humbling for me . I want to represent Denso to the best of my ability , and I love all those guys . When I get to go out and do a function , and I get to go to the plant and meet the people behind the scenes , and I get to go do customer functions , they are so happy to meet us . They see us on TV and we ’ re like superstar status to them , it ’ s very humbling . It ’ s just the message that you portray . You can do anything you want , no matter if you want to go race lawnmowers , if you want to go snowboarding , or whatever . It ’ s just the message that you have to have , and have to live your life by . You can do anything that you want if you push your mind to it .
It ’ s been a motto that ’ s carried Smith and why she ’ s thriving , both as a positive role model and as a successful rider . She finished fifth in points in 2020 , going 200 mph in Dallas to become the first female to join the Denso 200-MPH Club and
AFTER FINISHING FIFTH IN PRO STOCK
IN 2020 , SMITH HAS PLANS TO IMPROVE ON THAT DURING THE 2021
NHRA CAMPAIGN .
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