Matt Smith Racing & Victory Motorcycles NHRA Partnership
The year-old partnership between Victory Motorcycles and Matt Smith Racing is poised to make some great strides in 2016.
Matt Smith and his wife Angie Smith, brought Victory Motorcycles to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in 2015, making huge development milestones with the all new bike.Despite the bout of success and noteworthy accomplishments, the couple is determined and have spent an untold amount of time continuing development in the off seasons, which they are convinced will lead to multiple victories in the 2016 drag racing year.
“We are 100 percent behind this deal,” Angie said. “There’s no 9-to-5, 40-hour work week. We’ve been putting in all of our time to make this program better because we want to make Victory happy and we want to be happy as racers. We want this partnership with Victory Motorcycles to last a lifetime. We want to get as many people as we can to ride Victory Motorcycles. The best way to do that is win because that shows everyone how great these motorcycles are.”
After looking for a way into the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle class in late 2014, Victory Motorcycles met with a handful of teams before settling on the championship-winning group at MSR. Matt Smith is a two-time world champion, claiming titles in 2007 and 2013. With 17 victories to date, he’s ranked comfortably in the all-time top 10 for his class.
Just one of 15 women in the NHRA 64-year history to claim a national event trophy, Angie smith and her crew chief/husband Matt says she’ll be adding to her career accomplishments in 2016.
“She’s come a long way over the last couple of years,” he said. “The 2015 season was kind of a setback for her, mainly because of how the wind affects her on the Victory. She’ll be a lot better in 2016. We’ve just got to get her some more laps. She’ll be good next year.”
Angie’s petite frame posed some problems when transitioning to the Victory. During one of her first testing sessions with the completely new bike, the team soon discovered that the Victory’s smaller fairing produced much higher wind resistance and caused Angie’s hand to be ripped from the handlebar on a practice run. She managed to keep the bike under control but her confidence suffered. As the year progressed, so too did her confidence in the victory.
“It took a while to get my confidence back,” she said. “But toward the end of the season, I was doing a lot better. I think in 2016 we’re going to be really, really good.”
The 2014-2015 off-season was utilized by developing the new bike in conjunction with Victory. Matt raced three finals and won 18 eliminations rounds during the 2015 season. A midseason modification to the bodywork allowed for a more equal field, with the Victory meeting the competition head-on.
“We went from running 13th, 14th up to fifth, sixth,” Smith said. “It was a big boost, but we’re still behind a little bit on the body. Thankfully, we’ve made some big gains in the motor department. Elite Performance helped us at the end of the year, and we tried something with one of their combinations that helped us even more.”
Continuing with much needed support of the Smiths is Elite Performance, who powered Erica Enders to two consecutive Pro Stock Championships. A partnership with Mark Stockseth and Stockseth racing, wraps up the loose ends support-wise, though Smith will still build his own engines.
“We know we’re not where we need to be with the bodywork and that’s a big factor, one that new teams go through,” Matt said. “We’re hoping NHRA will give us a couple things over the winter, and then we’ll go back to the wind tunnel. We’ll be glad for NHRA to come with us and we hope they do because I think they will see what we’ve been saying if they actually see the bike in the wind tunnel.”
With or without concessions, after racing to the final round of the last race of the 2015 season in Pomona, Calif., Matt is confident the performance of his Victory will continue to be competitive.
“We are getting to where we are right there on par with everybody,” he said. “We’re still a mile an hour down from everybody, from the Buell to the Suzuki and the Harley, but if NHRA gives us just a little bit more in aero, we can be right there ready to win a lot of races and contend for the championship next year.”