MASON CITY | Zac Smith’s racing career is one of that has turned into the ultimate test of patience.
But the Hobby Stock driver from Mason City wouldn’t have it any other way.
The struggles, he hopes, will make coming successes much sweeter.
It was when he was entering elementary school that Smith’s lifelong love affair with auto racing began.
His grandfather, Jim Smith, was a Hobby Stock driver of his own, and the younger Smith would do anything to spend nights with him at local tracks.
“We went to the Wright County Speedway in Belmond, went to Britt, went to Webster City,” Smith recalled. “Every time he went I tried to be along, just learning.
“Racing runs in the family. I grew up around it. It just runs through your blood.”
Now it’s Zac Smith’s turn to carry on the family name in the Hobby Stock division.
It started for Smith in 2008 when he was a sophomore in high school, and his racing career has featured a little bit of everything since he hopped behind the wheel for the first time.
There was his one and only feature win – that coming in 2012 at Algona. There have been wrecks and countless nights in the shop fixing damage. There has been a voyage into fatherhood that nearly prompted him to exit the race car completely. There was a short stint in a Sport Mod that didn’t go as planned.
Through it all, there’s been growth, both in and out of the car.
“Those first couple of years I’d sit in staging and I had butterflies,” he recalled. “That doesn’t happen anymore. I’m to the point now where it’s go-time.”
Smith was a couple short circuits away from reaching victory lane Sunday at Mason City Motor Speedway as he chased his first win at his home track.
After leading much of the race, Smith had to settle for a runner-up finish to Chanse Hollatz. Still, it was clear progress for the driver of the 18z.
“I honestly did (think I was going to win),” Smith said. “I saw Chanse come up on the outside and I knew it was going to be a struggle. He’s good and has good equipment. But I honestly felt I was going to have another shot at him. It was nice knowing I could run with him.”
That night Smith was all smiles when he climbed out of his race car.
“There’s been a lot of trial and error,” he said. “Around here, the competition is unreal. Some of the fastest guys around are here in North Iowa and Southern Minnesota. I definitely feel like sooner or later our luck is going to change.”
Smith’s 2016 season at Mason City Motor Speedway epitomizes the ups and downs of his career.
His first three finishes this season were 19th, 14th and 19th. Since then, he’s finished in the top seven in four of five starts, including that career-best finish Sunday at MCMS.
There have been times where giving up on his racing dreams might have been the easy option. He wasn't about to do that.
“There’s been a lot of patience to not give up,” Smith said.
This week's schedule at Hancock County Speedway has been pushed back a day due to rain.
The Night of 1,000 Stars will take place Friday night at 6:30, the Night of 10,000 Stars has been moved to Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and the All-Star race has been moved to Sunday afternoon.
The All-Star race will begin Sunday at 3 p.m.
TIME TO HUNT
The United States Modified Touring Series will roll into Mason City Motor Speedway on Sunday night as part of The Hunt for the Casey's Cup, the series' playoff system.
Rodney Sanders won the USMTS stop at MCMS earlier this season.
Jason Hughes leads the Casey's Cup standings after three of 21 events with 853 points. Jesse Sobbing (829), Cade Dillard (826), Sanders (802) and Zack VanderBeek (778) round out the top five.