To say Matt Smith needs a good start to the 2016 season is a huge understatement. Matt also known as "Smokey", has suffered several broken crank shafts in a relatively short amount of time. Smokey needed some good hooks to start the season. He broke a crank toward the end of the 2015 season and again at Gordyville early in 2016. Smokey needs a good 2016.
Smokey has been pulling now for more than a decade. In the brief moments I have gotten to spend time with him, he is short on words and big on action. He carries himself with a level of confidence you don't see in too many pullers. If his tractor holds together, he has a pretty good shot at being at the top every time out.
Smokey drove the “Fast Forward” Ford 8630 version for as long as I can remember. I remember the gradient lettering and thick black lines with those flames. It is an image I will not soon forget. As that tractor now sits, re-branded as Super Blue driven by Cole Forrester, I and many others can still see that old artwork.
In 2014 Smokey started a new project. It was a sleek black bodied New Holland sheet metal. It had the same sound. It had similar dash components. But no one except for Smokey knew where it would end up. In 2015 the new Fast Forward got a nice new blue New Holland paint scheme. It looked like it was going 35MPH sitting still and it pulled straight and true.
It didn't take long for this tractor to start building its own reputation for success. In 2015, Smokey finished third for the 7700 Light Limited Turbo tractor class for Interstate Truck and Tractor Pullers. He finished up some 55 points behind Jeff Mikloiche and his Case Puma dubbed “Demented”.
Fast Forward to May 7 2016 and the class leaders are Jeff, Mark, and Smokey. Brian Yeager tells the crowd that Jeff and Mark are tied and, “We are going to settle that tonight!” Jeff comes out and runs a good pass of 314.23. Mark bested Jeff going 326.14. And Smokey comes in and drops a pass of 350.26. I don't need to tell you that it is not often that one tractor will put 20 feet on the nearest competitor, but it happened on this day. I caught up with him after the fact and said, “Found another gear did you?” to which he said, “I found two. Didn't mean to”. That is Smokey, a man of few words, but big on action.
Some people drive on I-81, Smokey Smith simply books up and down it.
Pictures from the event.