If it is true that 80 percent of winning is just showing up, then Mike Smith has played a large role in the success of NASCAR driver David Ragan. As the rest of the #34 team from Front Row Motorsports flies to the next race, it's up to the Bensalem native to haul across the country an 80-foot long, 80,000-pound semi carrying Ragan's Ford stock car and all of the equipment. No car, no race.
In fact, while it is Ragan behind the driver's seat during the races, his victories are felt by the entire team. When he captured the checkered flag during the Aaron's 499 May 5 at the Talledega Superspeedway in Alabama, the pit crew exploded in celebration.
"That was a big team win," said Smith, who also handles the second gas can for the pit crew and keeps the equipment clean and organized. "It was a great moment, everybody felt it."
Fresh off the victory, Ragan, Smith and the rest of the team have made their way to Pennsylvania for last weekend's Pocono 400 race. Ragan finished 37th in a field of 43 racers, with Jimmie Johnson crossing the finish line first. It's part of an intense schedule that is the NASCAR series, keeping Smith on the road 38 weekends out of the year, between February and November.
"I'll get one or two days at home before it's time to head out to the next race," said Smith. "In a couple weeks, I'll come home from Michigan, have about 24 hours to be at home with my wife, then it will be off to Sonoma, California."
A trucker by trade, Smith and his wife, Deb, are used to the hectic lifestyle. After their sons married and moved out of their home in Neshaminy Valley, Mike and Deb decided in 2005 to move to Denver, N.C., so Smith could pursue his dream to be a part of a NASCAR team.
"It was a little scary, but I thought I could do it," said Smith. "Both of our sons were grown, so it was a good tie to give it a shot. Thankfully, it worked out."