Harold Smith oral history interview 2, 2008 March 19
In this second interview, modified stock car mechanic, pit crew member, and motorsports enthusiast Harold Smith reflects on his experiences in the racing community from the 1950s through the time of interview. Mr. Smith describes how he began working part-time in the evenings for William Mason in his garage in the 1950s, then full-time in 1962. He also talks about how he co-owned a drag racing strip called the Lakeview Drag Strip until it closed in 1962. Mr. Smith describes differences between modified races and Grand National races noting that involvement in the former didn't require a full-time commitment. He then compares drag racing and track racing in terms of wear on the cars. Mr. Smith reminisces about the drivers of Mr. Mason's cars, including Carl Burris and Perk Brown, whose driving style he characterizes as cool and collected. He describes what it was like to work for Mr. Mason, who was known best for engine building, explains why he quit working for him, and shares stories about rowdy fans. Mr. Smith then talks about his own mechanical strengths, and in particular, his innovativeness and skill in working within the margins of the rules to gain advantage. Mr. Smith was able to capitalize on this skill for his son Randy Smith, whose racing career began in 1980, and for whom he worked as crew chief until 1989. Mr. Smith concludes the interview by sharing his thoughts on how racing has changed over the years in four phases, and his belief that he and Mr. Mason had the talent to be successful in more prestigious races such as the Grand National with the right kind of financial backing.