A need for speed

| 19 May 2014 | 02:19

The fastest kid in Sussex County may be an 18 year old senior attending High Point Regional High School.

His name is Hunter Smith and he has been pursuing his need for speed since the age of 13.

Burning up asphalt
Since his rookie season in 2009 Hunter has been a full time Champ Kart race car driver. When not doing homework and chores, he can be found doing mechanical work on his cars or at one of the regional race tracks burning up the asphalt.

Most parents are constantly reminding their son or daughter to slow down while driving, but Hunter's parents encourage him to drive fast.

Ray and Deena Smith were fans of auto racing before Hunter was born. Their enthusiasm rubbed off on their only child.

The Smith's scraped together enough money to buy an old beat up 1990's era Champ Kart for Hunter to drive. After the car was rebuilt Hunter did some test driving with it on the track in 2008. Satisfied with his test runs Hunter — with his parent’s permission — decided to enter races the following year.

Snydersville Raceway in Pennsylvania was the location of Hunter's first race as a competitor. Hunter had concerns about other racers having more experience and newer cars. Despite his apprehensiveness he managed to cross the finish line first and earn a victory in his inaugural race.

Smith competed in 20 races in 2009 winning 10 of them. He races all over the country on tracks such as Hamlin Speedway in Pennsylvania, Martinsville Speedway in Virginia and Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

Smith has consistently finished in the top 10 in races. Along the way he has garnered attention from numerous auto racing oriented talk shows and internet websites.

Through the years Smith has paid his dues on and off the track. He has suffered some injuries in a few crashes.

Despite setbacks Smith always managed to bounce back and get back on track (pun intended). He balances his schooling, social life and racing career with confidence.

“My ultimate goal is to compete possibly in NASCAR, Formula 1 or the Grand Am Series," Smith said.

Since his rookie season he has steadily improved his driving on the track.

Financing a dream
Despite his success, Smith still struggles financing his racing dream. The world of auto racing can be very expensive. Kart cars even used ones can be pricey. They have to be constantly maintained and a steady supply of spare parts can be a burden.

The Smith family does not have the means to hire a pit crew. Hunter’s father, Ray is the only mechanic.

Father and son work as a team to keep things going on the track and on the business end. They split driving duties when they travel to races.

The Smith’s have no entourage or unlimited expense account. When they hit the road they do it with a big pickup truck and a modest trailer that holds two racing cars and equipment.

Smith is always looking to add another company as a sponsor.

"I believe auto racing is the most expensive sport there is," Smith said. "I have a national racing team that wants to add me to their roster of racers and we are in the process of trying to find sponsors. Sponsors can come in so many different forms. For instance a company that makes shocks and we get them to supply us with shocks, well that is money saved on our end. Sometimes a sponsor will supply us with money in exchange for advertising space on our cars.”

Smith makes sure to not be selfish in his pursuit of his racing goals.

From his inaugural racing season until last year, Smith’s car number was seven. He changed the number to 30 in part to honor a relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer and to recognize the number 30 of the 30 million people suffering worldwide from cancer.

‘Racing for Cancer’ is a charity Hunter Smith Racing is associated with.

Looking to the future
Sports’ marketing is a course of study Smith wants to pursue in college. In case things don’t work out on the track he still wants to stay in the racing industry in some capacity.

Smith has been involved in other sports besides auto racing. He played soccer and participated in varsity track at High Point Regional High School.

This spring Smith decided to not participate in track and field. Smith is concentrating more time to his studies and preparing for upcoming auto races. He still plans to occasionally run in a 5K or 10K event.

Smith works out several times a week and includes running and cycling in his routine.

Smith is due to graduate from high school in June. He hopes to one day own a high end luxury or sports car but for now he drives around in a modest 2003 Honda Civic LX.

For those interested in keeping up to date with Hunter Smith’s racing career visit his website at http://huntersmith-racing.com/Home_Page.html.

Hunter Smith Racing accepts donations and sponsors anytime. Interested parties may contact Smith about sponsorships via his website. Smith can also be contacted through Facebook and Twitter.