Unlikely Return: Injured NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Rider Angie Smith Back in Action

erica enders angie smith nhra vegas
Angie Smith Makes Surprise NHRA Return at VegasJERRY FOSS NHRA/NATIONAL DRAGSTER
  • Serious spill from bike at St. Louis race can’t keep veteran Angie Smith from bike

  • ‘I’m not one to sit around and do nothing,’ she says.

  • Smith might enter season-closing event at Pomona, Calif.

NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Angie Smith wasn’t about to sit at home at King, N.C., and wait for her eight broken toes and twice-operated-on arm heal at a snail’s pace—not this spunky 44-year-old who’s used to sprinting down the quarter-mile at nearly 204 mph.

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Angie Smith surprised just about everyone in the paddock with her return this weekend.NHRA/National Dragsgter

“I'm not one to sit around and not do anything,” she said.

And if she were to come out to The Strip art Las Vegas Motor Speedway when the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series was making its penultimate appearance of the season (and fifth of six Countdown to the Championship events), she certainly wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines and be a victim or martyr. She fell from her motorcycle. She got hurt. She got medical attention. And she was preparing, physically and mentally, to race again. And that was that.


“I don't like sympathy. I probably don't give a lot of sympathy, and I don't like need a lot of sympathy. I'm not soft. I'm not going to be held down long,” she said. Besides, she said, “NHRA drag racing is near and dear to my heart.”

So she had only one option of how she was going to spend her Halloween weekend. She was going to get back on her Denso-sponsored Buell, earn some Countdown points, and secure a spot in the 16-bike field for Sunday’s eliminations at the NHRA Nevada Nationals.

Smith sat out Friday qualifying but Saturday afternoon, she made her first appearance since her ugly accident Sept. 30 at the Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway, near St. Louis. Not healed yet but able to walk with pressure on her heels inside two boot casts, Smith donned her riding leathers and took her motorcycle for a 12.232-second ride down the quarter-mile dragstrip at Las Vegas. She went “only” 90.87 mph, but it was a symbolic – and strategic – ride for the “Unsinkable Angie Smith.”

angie smith nhra
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle veteran was seriously hurt when she was thrown from her bike at St. Louis on Sept. 30.NHRA/National Dragster

At the time of her injury, Smith was ranked fifth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings. By not being able to finish the St. Louis race and unable to start or even attend the Dallas race, she slipped to sixth. By coasting down the track Saturday, she earned points and a berth in the Nevada Nationals field.

Dr. Phillip Surface, the NHRA medical director, granted Smith clearance to race late Friday morning. “I'm healing very well. I had my skin graft nine days ago, and everything's going along as planned. And I got clearance from my plastics doctor, my orthopedic doctor, and he's an orthopedic surgeon, trauma orthopedic surgeon, as well. So I got cleared from three people,” Smith said. It wasn’t an in-your-face statement, but it was clear she wasn’t interested in any debate about the wisdom of that.

“It was probably a surprise to everybody, but I can see my progress and everything that's going on. I have a little bit of medical background, and I know my limitations. So as long as I keep everything how I'm supposed to do it, I think everything will be fine,” Smith said.

One reason for her acceleration, Smith said, was the fact “I just did everything the doctor told me to do when I was supposed to stay in bed with my feet elevated. I really wanted to go to Dallas, but I didn't go. Her husband, six-time and current Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Matt Smith, insisted she “stay home and rest and recuperate.’ She said, “That was probably the seven days that I needed to be at home. I absolutely didn't do anything but stay at home with my feet elevated, and I didn't do anything. So that probably helped me more than anything. I was not a very happy person, because me not being at the racetrack and my team and my family being there is hard.”

Smith said Friday that her Saturday plan was to make at least one pass but clarified, “I'm not going down the track full-power, 190 miles an hour, but I am getting on the bike. I will be on the bike. I had a walker for the first three days (following the accident), and I was like, ‘I'm over this.’ Then the doctor told me I could walk in my boots and so I walk in my boots and I got it going. I have to walk on my heels.”

She has no worries about her broken toes, she said, “because they took x-rays this week and they said I'm healing very well. “We're going to wrap it up real good, and it'll be fine.” Although she hadn’t slung her leg over her motorcycle since the incident but said that doesn’t mean anything: “I've been racing motorcycles for 25 years. I'll be fine.”

Sampey lost her first-round match Saturday night against Chris Demke on a holeshot. He used an outstanding.016-second reaction time (against her sluggish.126) to trump her quicker 5.281-second elapsed time with his 5.321.

She said she’s considering entering the season finale at Pomona, Calif., in two weeks.