Tommy Smith Launches Elmer Trett's Ride
An interview with Tommy Smith requires a walk past his Top Fuel bike on the way to his motor home…Gary said he got tingles when he touched the bike. I (Dwight) felt an inner glow when I snapped a picture of it. Tommy Smith is a special guy who owns a special bike. His Top Fuel bike once had Elmer Trett's hands on the grips...After you meet Tommy Smith, you realize quickly that Elmer Trett's bike is still in good hands.
This bike is not the bike that Elmer Trett crashed. Elmer rode this bike to its fastest ET of 6.51 at 219 mph with the old Magnasun supercharger, but the first time Tommy sat on Elmer's bike and reached out for the grips…something happened…the money had already changed hands. In Tommy's words he now had a 'done deal'. Thoughts about that 'done deal' materialized in Tommy's mind, as did other thoughts for which he has no inkling of origin…Tommy does know he will remember the other thoughts for a very long time. Share those thoughts in Tommy Smith's words…
"If you can imagine a Neanderthal man (we'll call him Clyde just for the sake of giving him a name) walking along a big open field looking for something to eat and just generally enjoying the day and minding his own business. As Clyde gets closer to the edge of the field a HUGE Saber Tooth Tiger leaps out of the woods and comes charging full speed ahead toward Clyde. He also just happened to be looking for something to eat…Well, I know EXACTLY how Clyde felt at that very moment. It was like HOLY ****, what have I gone and gotten myself into this time."
I've met many drag racing fans and the most common quality each seems to exhibit is 'real'. Tommy Smith is a fan and a racer, and he's also one of the most genuine persons you will ever meet…
Meet Tommy now, as I (Dwight) asked him our Profile questions…
D-O-B: 4-14-1957…HOME TOWN: Alabaster, Alabama
Do you have a nickname?
Who are your Heroes?
"Elmer Trett. John Force."
What are (or have been) your scariest moments?
"I don't know I have many. I prefer to stay cool and clam, but the first time I sat on Elmer's bike, and the thoughts about the guy in the field with the Saber Tooth Tiger.It was scary."
Do you work out?
"No…Twelve ounce Coors Lights."
Do you have a special diet?
"Meat and potatoes."
What mental routine prepares you for each run?
"Really forty five minutes before a pass I come into the trailer sit down, and take a ten minute nap. I stay calm. The worst thing you can be is nervous. Oh **** is not an option on the track."
Do you have time for a hobby?
"No. Motorcycles are my hobby."
Many motorcyclists ride to unravel, what do you do to unwind?
" I relax and put my feet up…let the world go by."
What personal quality (one trait) would you want to be admired for?
What's most important?
1.Fame 2.Money 3.Thrill/fun 4.Winning
Are you happy?
"Oh yeah. I'm ecstatic."
What could make you happier?
"Get the performance of that motorcycle where it should be."
If you could change one thing about motorcycle drag racing, what would it be?
"The cost of everything. It's so expensive. How do you bring the cost down? Get those selling the parts to bring the price down."
When driving a car, do you always wear a seatbelt?
1. Yes. 2. No. 3. If yes, really?
What does 185 (plus) mph on a motorcycle feel like?
"Feels a little out of control. 180 to 220 you know you're on the edge, and you can feel it."
WHERE do you find the most peace in your life?
"At home with my wife and daughters."
WHEN do you find the most peace in your life?
"Early in the morning."
Do you have a full-time occupation?
"My partner and I have two companies. We pave roads and parking lots, and commercial floor contracting."
You're a skilled racer…What one factor, what one reason separates you from the fast traffic on smooth public highways?
"I pay attention!"
What got you started in Motorcycle drag racing?
"79 or 80 at an IDBA race in Birmingham. I was asked 'you wanna ride this old bike?' I still have that original bike. We've run every class there is, and some that aren't run any more."
"We thought about buying Elmer's bike for nine months. It took a lot of thought and a long time. Everybody is going to be watching. It's not the bike he crashed. Elmer quit riding this bike in 1992. The fastest ET, 6.51, is engraved on it. The number one plate is still on this bike. We added 'in tribute'…next to the number one. I'm didn't want to seek the attention, but we knew it would be a part of it. "
And we want to thank Tommy Smith for letting us become a part of that attention. Throughout this writing process I was in contact with Tommy on several occasions to make sure we got every detail about this bike correct. Tommy was always ready to help. We could heap a pile of good words on Tommy, but we know his humility would resist that focus. I found one great word for this fine person, and Gary agreed…more than anything else Tommy Smith is…