Angie Smith’s Buell Returned to Matt Smith Racing

Matt, David Hagan, Angie Smith, Leah Pruett and Tony Stewart - Matt Smith Racing photo
Before her accident, Angie Smith was fifth in Pro Stock Motorcycle points – Anne Proffit photo

This has been a tough week to be a fan of NHRA and its technical department. With the transparency of a strong brick wall, the sanctioning body elected to keep Angie Smith’s crashed Camping World Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle Buell  for nearly a full week without letting her husband Matt, proprietor of Matt Smith Racing, know where the motorcycle was or what NHRA was doing with it.

There was an uproar – and it should continue, folks – that hopefully forced NHRA to change its mind about the time frame of returning said motorcycle to the team. Since the COVID pandemic, parts have been difficult to get, whether it’s for a Buell or Suzuki, and Smith, with contracts to run other bikes besides his own and his wife’s needed whatever spares he could get from the crashed motorcycle. Earlier this week, NHRA told Matt Smith he could have the bike back after the season finale at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip – in mid-November.

Elite Motorsports visited Smith in her St. Louis-area hospital – Matt Smith Racing photo

This past Friday, nearly a week after Angie Smith’s accident, NHRA advised Matt Smith he could come and get the bike in the St. Louis area, close to World Wide Technology Raceway’s drag strip, where the accident occurred. They gave him an irrational one-day deadline to retrieve the motorcycle. Smith was taking care of his wife in North Carolina, while prepping his team’s motorcycles for the NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex this upcoming week.

Matt, David Hagan, Angie Smith, Leah Pruett and Tony Stewart – Matt Smith Racing photo

Smith was able to enlist chassis constructor (and super all-around good guy) Jerry Haas to get the bike to his shop, relatively close to World Wide Technology Raceway and the garage where NHRA transported the Buell, and transport the motorcycle to Texas Motorplex. NHRA’s pits are filled with folks who will go to any lengths to help another racer.

Even though NHRA has released the motorcycle, there are lots of questions that remain. The day after Angie Smith’s accident, Pro Mod racer Dmitry Samorukov crashed after his burnout, and impacted the opposite wall; his car was promptly returned to him by Sunday evening. While the rule book states that, under its administrative procedures, NHRA has the authority to take and retain parts and whole race cars and/or motorcycles, it’s not something they do in a vacuum. This is, after all, taking place during the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. There’s a lot of money and prestige on the line.

This is the rule that permitted NHRA to keep the Buell.

The motorcycle Angie Smith was riding wasn’t the pink DENSO Buell she’s been using throughout the 2023 season; rather, at Charlotte, the second race of the playoffs, she assumed the bike used by “blocker” Chip Ellis at Reading, where he brought the Matt Smith Racing Buell to the runner-up slot against marauding Gaige Herrera, riding the Vance & Hines Suzuki Hayabusa3. In Charlotte, she qualified that black motorcycle in third at zMAX Dragway but had issues in her first qualifying session in St. Louis.

“It is NHRA’s policy not to comment on an ongoing investigation,” a spokesperson said in response to questions about Angie Smith’s accident and NHRA’s retention of her motorcycle, her helmet and leathers, all data that Matt Smith downloaded for the sanctioning body – and who knows what else?

It is this writer’s hope that NHRA decides to open up about what they’ve done, why they’ve done whatever they did and what they might do in the future to make an incident of this type less confrontational and more open. By working with, rather than against its racers, more information would be given and more knowledge would be gained. At this point the sanctioning body looks unnecessarily elusive as well as confrontational. That’s no way to keep racers in the fold and happy to be working with you.

About Anne Proffit 1264 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

2 Comments on Angie Smith’s Buell Returned to Matt Smith Racing

  1. I call shenanigans . Some competitor wanted to get a look at Matt’s bikes to steal secrets as to why they’re so fast. NHRA should investigate to find out which of their employees are a part of this scheme.

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