Brittany Smith set her sights high for the 2018 racing season. And she made some history as a result.
For 2018, Smith set out a goal to win the Wissota Hornet national championship — and accomplished that feat, becoming the first female driver to ever win a Wissota national championship in a time that spans more than three decades. She topped Noah Nelson of Dawson, Minn., by 23 points.
The significance of her accomplishment isn’t lost on the 20-year-old from St Joseph, Minn.
“It means a great deal to me,” Smith said. “You hear a lot of stigmas of women drivers, but (the male racers) don’t treat you any less than the others and that meant the world to me. I hope to show women that they have every opportunity that men do.”
Her 2018 stats went as follows: 48 shows, 15 feature wins at eight different tracks and one track championship. Quite a season for a driver who was in just her second full season behind the wheel of a race car.
She attributed her success to several different factors, including encouragement from her father, Bob, a long-time racer himself.
“Seat time is a huge factor, and definitely my dad’s pep talks,” Smith said. “Confidence is key when it comes to race. And having super reliable equipment.”
Smith was the national Wissota Hornet runner-up in 2017, posting six wins. After getting close to winning the national title in 2017, there was one goal in mind for 2017.
“We knew that our goal was a national championship,” she said.
Smith’s first racing experience came in an Enduro event in Brainerd. She was driving a Dodge Neon built by her father for endure racing. Smith finished second. After that, she ran 10 shows to close out the season before racing on a regular basis in 2017.
For someone who played volleyball and softball, the competitive nature of racing appealed to Smith.
“I grew up at the track,” Smith said. “I was always with my dad. I loved getting the opportunity to race, and every since then I was kinda hooked. I loved the fact that it was an individual sport. I love the community of racers and I love the atmosphere.”
One special win came at Bemidji Speedway at the Paul Bunyan Stampede in September. She got her picture taken in victory lane by long-time track photographer Dennis Peterson, who many years earlier, had taken pictures of Bob Smith in victory lane at the same track.
“That meant the most to me,” Smith said.
Smith is a student at Bemidji State, where she is majoring in business management and minoring in sport management. Her goal is to own her own Crossfit gym. She has college internships to complete next summer which may impact her racing plans. There is the possibility of moving up into the street stock division, and also a chance she could stay in the hornets.
She won the track championship at Ogilvie with one feature win, and added wins at Madison Speedway, Fiesta City Speedway, Gondik Law Speedway, Proctor Speedway, Bemidji Speedway, Granite City Speedway and Princeton Raceway.
“My dad said that makes a driver, being able to go to a new track and being able to win a race,” Smith said.
Hometown: St. Joseph, Minn.
Division: Wissota Hornet #5
Sponsors: RLS Trucking, Fouquette Auto, Scholler Repair, St Cloud Auto Wrecking, Steam N Clean Mobile Wash, Exhaust Pros, Frederick Racecars, Madysen Trucking