Resilient Smith's scary bike crash exposes a few ugly truths

The NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle husband-wife team of Angie Smith and Matt Smith experienced a few scary moments during Saturday qualifying for the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio. ( Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE)

Angie Smith's frightening Pro Stock Motorcycle accident during Saturday's final qualifying session for the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio, reminds us again of several sad truths.



  

We remember just how vulnerable the bike riders are in comparison to their other drag-racing colleagues. They don't have a chassis or body around them to protect them if something goes wrong with their equipment. All they have to rely on are their helmets, firesuits, gloves, and boots. And a firesuit doesn't provide much padding if the rider is separated from the motorcycle.

Ask Katie Sullivan or Joe DeSantis or Connie Cohen . . . or even Matt Smith, Angie's husband. They all have been there.

With husband racer Matt Smith waiting at the starting to make his final qualifying run, she made the cut at No. 15 but had the scariest moment of her career when her bike's brakes failed. She miraculously, suffered a bruised and possibly sprained pinky finger after she and the bike sailed through the sand trap and a mown, grassy field and headed directly for a cornfield.

It isn’t clear if Angie Smith ever has de-tasseled corn or knows just how machete-sharp cornstalk leaves are and just how many mosquitoes and other nasty bugs infest cornfields. Either way, slamming into a cornfield at 190 miles an hour or better is a recipe for certain disaster. So wisely she ditched the bike, laid it down, just in time.

She tumbled onto her left side, and the bike disintegrated as it bounced the other way toward the crops. She sat up after a frightening few seconds that seemed much longer, said she was banged up but otherwise unhurt (save maybe a pinkie finger that took an extra beating), and talked about how she hoped the bike would be repaired so she could race Sunday. It wasn't, and Hector Arana Sr. got a free first-round pass.

"I am OK," Angie Smith said right away Saturday. "I'm just a little sore, but it was a wild ride. I thought I was in motocross. It just sucks that my motorcycle is messed up. Hopefully we can repair it so tomorrow I can race. I'm racing tomorrow if tech lets me and my team lets me."

She described the incident from her perspective: "When I got to the shutdown area, as soon as I got off the gas, it was motoring down, but I had no brakes whatsoever. I was like, 'This is going to be a wild ride.' I just decided to ride it out as long as I could, and I went through the sand trap and the field, and the cornfield was coming up. I was like, 'I don't want to mow down the whole cornfield,' so I just bailed."

She said her bike wasn't acting quite right when she did her burnout before the run but that she ignored an red flags.

"I was coming out of the burnout and my front brake was getting a little washy. When you're holding the front brake and doing your burnout, the lever comes in a little more and sometimes they do that when you're in hot conditions. So I didn't really think anything about it," she said.

Matt Smith was beside himself as he saw the accident unfold. But moments he later said, "That's my wife, and I love her to death. And it's hard to see something like that happen. I told her the bike can be fixed and I'm just glad she'll be all right."

In the aftermath, we also learned that ESPN's SportsCenter panders to the sensational. Never mind that plenty of legitimate racing highlights that are worthy of inclusion never make the program broadcast -- on a network that the NHRA pays handsomely for the privilege of being an associate.

Amazingly, but not surprisingly, host Linda Cohn once again showed her ignorance. Not having an true understanding of her material is a pattern that has been hers since her early days in television. And Saturday evening, she added to the reputation by her commentary. Proving she knows nothing of drag racers or racers in general, the anchor smugly concluded her high-priced twaddle by saying, "Angie might want to find a new line of work."

First of all, racers race. They love to race. It's what they would rather do than anything else on Earth. Crashes do not deter them. They are not frightened. They do not crumble when they are shaken up, hurt, or even hurt seriously. Had Linda Cohn ever bothered to study drag racing (or any kind of auto racing), observe it for even one day, she would recognize that. The best thing to do when you don't understand something is not to make a fool of yourself (again).

And how would failed brakes on a motorcycle be some indication that Angie Smith cannot handle her job?

Cohn's ignorant and insulting prattle is worthy of no more mention here.

Smith should have been commended for her bravery, her resilience, her love for the sport.

Thank God Angie Smith is all right. And thank God she knows how to exercise common sense.

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