At the outset of 2022, Will Smith took a leap of faith in pursuing his longtime dream of piloting a Top Fuel Dragster. Next month that dream comes one step closer as Smith will license behind the wheel of Larry Dixon’s rail.
Smith made the difficult decision this season to step away from the Top Alcohol program he had piloted for four years. This training ground was the natural step before getting licensed in Top Fuel.
“I knew I wanted to give this Top Fuel opportunity my all,” explained Smith. “Getting my license is a big thing to check off my list on this journey. At this point, I’m more than ready and can’t wait for the Northern Nationals to get here.”
Smith proved his prowess behind the wheel once again earlier this year at the Baby Gators when he stepped into a one-race deal with Samsel Racing and took the car to the winner’s circle without having so much as tested before the event. Although he’ll face a new animal in Martin, Michigan, he’s ready.
“This is something I’ve been working on for so long that it seems surreal for it to be here,” continued Smith. “It’s an amazing opportunity just to license in one of these machines, but I don’t plan to stop here. I’m not afraid of hard work and, having piloted TAD, I’m ready for the next step.”
The people that know Smith best are quick to note his tenacity and determination, but also his deep commitment to honoring the relationships that have aided in his endeavors. As a marketing guru, Smith knows well all the ins and outs of a successful team and is quick to give credit where it’s due.
“There are so many folks who have walked beside me in getting to this point,” Smith said. “My family, AJ Ware, Dave, Kenny and Chiyo Hirata of Hirata Motorsports, Robin and Tony Samsel of Samsel’s Racing, Tommy and Judy Franklin, Tyler Crossnoe, and the entire PDRA staff, and all of my marketing partners (both past and current), as well as the many friends who have helped me along the way to get me here. I’m grateful to Larry Dixon for his partnership in getting licensed next month. He’s one of the best in the business and a longtime friend. We come from similar backgrounds so it’s great to talk to someone who’s walked the same road you have and come out successful on the other end.”
“I’ve known Will for a long time,” added Dixon. “He’s always asked all the right questions to me and always aspired to move up to Top Fuel. With the amount of time he’s spent in the alcohol class and the success that he’s had, this is the next step in his process, and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
At the August 5-6 event, Smith will need to make three progressive passes and meet ET and speed parameters to meet licensing requirements.
“This is an exciting time in my career,” said Smith. “I can’t tell what the future holds, but the door is wide open after this.”