Lucas Oil Speedway Meet the Staff: Man-on-the-move Kent Smith keeps on rolling in his 'Mr. Fix-It' role
WHEATLAND, Missouri (March 28, 2019) - Another Lucas Oil Speedway season opener is approaching and that means Kent Smith is a busy man. In other words - exactly the way he likes it.
Smith's title as Maintenance Director at the speedway cuts a wide swath. Whether it's replacing light bulbs, working on a faulty refrigerator or installing beefed-up internet bandwidth that fans and drivers will appreciate, Smith is a man on the move.
"It's crazy, but it always is this time of the year," Smith said earlier this week. "I'm kind of here, there and everywhere. I'm the 'fix-it' guy, I guess. They call it maintenance director, but I'm just fixing whatever happens to need fixing. Audio, video, cash registers, the computer system ... just whatever we need to work on.
"That's why I can't quit," Smith added, noting that he's just past 70 but looks and feels younger. "I should have retired years ago, but I just love the job. No day is ever the same. It's always something different."
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager Danny Lorton said he doesn't want to contemplate things without Smith on the team.
"Kent can do it all and he's been doing it all for a long time around here," Lorton said. "He's just a pleasure to work with."
Smith is a Wheatland native and helped build Ron Jenkins turn a bean field into the original Wheatland Raceway about 18 years ago. Little did anyone know at that time that Forrest Lucas would purchase the property, in 2005, and turn it into a multi-million dollar motorsports showplace.
Along for most of the ride has been Smith, a lifelong racing fan who used to hitch-hike as a teen to watch the races in Humansville. He built and helped maintain race cars and sold racing parts for his K&S Motorsports business for many years and even helped Bill Allen run the Dallas County Speedway in Urbana before helping Jenkins get the original Wheatland track started.
Smith said it's been amazing to watch things progress at Lucas Oil Speedway. This year, the new MyRacePass scoring system will allow drivers to get lineups and results - even hot-lap times - on their mobile phones.
The technology has made expendable the scoring-tower duties that Smith's wife, Marilyn, oversaw for many years. But the Smiths are fine with that as the timing was perfect.
"She was wanting to get out of it any way," Kent Smith said. "We've got grand kids (ages 4 and 9) and she would rather do that and keep up with them, so it's going to be fine. They keep us busy."
Smith said he just takes his job a year at a time now. He seems in no hurry to retire.
"I'm going to do this as long as I feel like doing it ... and as long as they feel like I'm helping, I'll probably stay around," Smith said. "I tried retiring when I got out of the body shop business and that lasted about a month. I have to be doing something, all the time. It keeps you going."
Engines are scheduled to fire up for the first time on Saturday, with an Open Test and Tune from 2-6 p.m. Spectator grandstand admission is free with pit passes $25 ($10 ages 5 and under). The Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series begins April 6 with action in all four of the weekly divisions - Pitts Homes USRA Modifieds, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods, Warsaw Auto Marine & RV ULMA Late Models and O'Reilly Auto Parts Street Stocks.
To inquire about tickets, VIP suites or camping, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@LucasOilSpeedway.com.
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984