Fans, drivers turn out in droves to pay tribute to Steve Smith at Lincoln Speedway

BRYAN HOUSEHOLDER
717-505-5403/@ydsports
Steve Smith is shown here after one of his many sprint wins.

Last Saturday’s Steve Smith Tribute Race at Lincoln Speedway was held almost a year to the date of Smith’s death in 2021.

The legendary racer drove his last race in 1996, but apparently fans and racers from this area and beyond still hold a great deal of admiration for the man who was nicknamed “The Black Bandit.”

For almost all of his career, Smith’s cars were painted black, and in the mid-1970s it seemed every driver had a nickname. The bandit title became Smith’s nickname and stuck through the years.

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Smith won 266 sprint races in his career and eight late-model races, including a 100-lapper at the York Fairgrounds.

In his final year of competition, Smith beat the All Stars at Lincoln for his 150th career sprint win there. He also won a World of Outlaws race that season at Hagerstown Speedway in northern Maryland.

While it has been a long time since Smith raced, and a year since his death, an overflow crowd turned out to honor him at his tribute race at the Adams County track. The racers also paid their respects. There were 47 410 sprint cars in competition at Lincoln Saturday, despite the fact that Port Royal Speedway in Juniata County was racing an hour and a half to the north, and the Western Pennsylvania Speedweek was going strong. There was also an All Star race in Ohio that night.

More:HOUSEHOLDER: Central Pennsylvania loses a true racing icon with death of Steve Smith

More:Danny Dietrich earns $25,000 with two 410 sprint wins; other weekend dirt-track action

Smith’s extended family was also on hand for the event. Son-in-law Brian Leppo, a Spring Grove native, did much of the work gathering numerous sponsors for the event. Son Stevie came back east from Oklahoma to be a part of the event, and even took a few laps in the car that Tanner Thorson was racing that night.

Thorson, who is dating Stevie Smith’s daughter, drove for Yorker Aaron Long in a car that greatly resembled Steve Smith’s car from 1996. Thorson ended up finishing 12th in the feature.

Daryn Pittman also ventured to the area to drive the Kevin Swindell car, but suffered heat-race problems and didn’t make the feature.

In the end Danny Dietrich, whose father Dan had some heated battles with Steve Smith during his driving career, picked up the $19,000 win. Dietrich spoke of his admiration for Steve Smith and the fact that he was a true racer who could, and often did, do everything himself.

This weekend: Williams Grove Speedway in Cumberland County will offer another of the Yellow Breeches events for the 410 sprint cars this Friday evening. 

In addition to the sprint cars, the 358 sprints will also be on hand for one of the Summer Series events.

Lincoln Speedway will present the annual Fallen Firefighters Night of racing on Saturday. The 410 sprints race for $5,000 to win, with the 358 sprints also on the racing slate.

The 410 sprints also headline at Port Royal on Saturday evening. Also on the card at the Port are the limited late models and twin 20s for the 305 sprints.

To wrap up the weekend, the 410 sprints have a special Sunday show on the tight quarter-mile oval at the Kutztown Fairgrounds in Berks County.

Selinsgrove Speedway in Snyder County offers the Joe Whitcomb Memorial Race Saturday. The event honors Whitcomb, who raced 358 sprint cars in the area before suffering fatal injuries at Selinsgrove a number of years ago. The Patriot Tour 360 sprint cars will headline. Also on the Selinsgrove slate are super late models and roadrunners.

Hagerstown offers the late-model sportsmen, crate late models, pure stocks and hobby stocks on its Saturday slate.

The wingless super sportsmen are a part of Path Valley’s Saturday show at the Franklin County facility.

The wingless super sportsmen and the 305 sprints are also a part of Bedford Speedway’s second race of the weekend on Sunday. The super late models headline at the Bedford County track on Friday.

CHAMPION RACING OIL

CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA

SPRINT CAR SERIES

Presented by Hoseheads.com

(Wins in parenthesis)

1. Anthony Macri (11)           867

2. Danny Dietrich (6)             762

3. Brent Marks (3)                 524

4. Freddie Rahmer (2)          454

5. Justin Peck (1)                  339

6. Logan Wagner (4)             322

7. Lucas Wolfe                      321

8. Dylan Cisney                     280

9. Dylan Norris (2)                 271

10. Devon Borden                 258

Reach Bryan Householder at sports@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @ydsports.