SPOTLIGHT ON SPEED: Gary Smiley
When Gary Smiley races at Heartland Park Topeka, in either the Super Quick Series or the Super Pro class in HPT's E.T. Bracket Racing Series, it's a little bit of a jaunt.
But it's a trip that Smiley is happy to make whenever he can work Topeka into his schedule, which includes races all over the Midwest.
"I live in Southwest Iowa,'' Smiley said. "We're about 20 miles from Missouri and 20 miles from Nebraska.
"It's about 170 miles to come down here. It's probably one of my shorter trips.''
Smiley made the trip worthwhile earlier this month, taking home a win in the Ignite High Performance Ethanol Super Quick Series.
Smiley won the doorcar bracket and then faced off with Mark Grame, winner of the dragster bracket, in the final round.
The final turned out to be one of Smiley's easiest wins ever, with Grame having trouble at the starting line and red-lighting, giving Smiley the victory.
"I was a pretty lucky person today, I don't think I had to run too hard,'' Smiley said.
"I saw him red light before I left and then I saw the (win) light down at the end, so I knew I was home free. The only thing in my mind was whether there was a malfunction in the tree and they'd have to try it again.''
Smiley's championship came in extremely windy conditions, which happens to be one of his pet peeves about racing in Kansas. But it won't keep him from coming back.
"It's just hot and windy every time I come here,'' he said. "Boy the wind always blows down here.
"It's always a challenge down here, but it's a fun place to race. I wish it was closer.''