Jimmy Smith take another victory lap in ’19 points

Published 7:53 am Friday, December 20, 2019

Jimmy and Francis Smith behind the counter at their Van Voris St. business.

The track champion in Memphis this year for 7.0 Index Class racing was Batesville’s  Jimmy Smith, best known locally as the owner and operator of Jimmy Smith Pawn Shop & Speed Equipment.

He has operated the business  on Van Voris St. downtown near the Downtown Square since the late ‘80s.

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“We’ve been doing this index racing thirteen or fourteen years,” said Smith from behind the counter of his downtown shop.  “We basically run Holly Springs and Memphis.”

Although it may not be the largest payout compared to other races in the series, there are roughly about 15 cars involved on a regular basis, coming from various parts of the Mid-South.

“We just enjoy doing it,” said the modest Smith.  The payout is usually about $500-$1,000 to win, and the prize money all comes from entry fees.    

This Index racing class usually involves door cars and left-hand steer roadsters, often made by a major manufacturer.  Also in Heads Up 7.0 (and 6.0) drag racing a Pro Tree is used, which has yellow start lights cutting on at one time, unlike bracket racing which involves handicapping. The start lights are staggered, flashing one at a time.

“I was happy that I won the points championship, but we didn’t get to run that much because of the rain this year.”  Record rainfalls repeatedly occurred throughout the Mid-South in 2019.

“It seemed like every weekend there was rain,” Smith added.  Although he still managed to race nine times in this class, and in seven he qualified as number one.

Smith, originally from Leland, began racing at age 16 and has been involved in one capacity or another, with very little pause, ever since.  In 1976 he purchased the same popular drag strip in Greenville that he had been points champion at two years prior.

He’s also been racing the same ’67 Chevrolet Camaro since 1979, and his car has accumulated a fair amount of sponsorships.  Some of the biggest supporters that his vehicle boasts are Performance Torque Converters out of Muscle Shoals, Bullet Racing Cams of Olive Branch (both products sold at his shop), and Jay’s Auto Service from  Batesville.

“They don’t give me money, but they help me with product,” Smith said.

Racing has always been known to be a family sport, as its natural thrill is practically universal.  In fact all of the major local racetracks, in Millington (Tenn.) Byhalia and Holly Springs, encourage fans of all ages to join the excitement.

“Some people take their kids fishing, some of them take ‘em to the drag strip,” Smith said cheerfully.

“He’s been racing longer than most people are old that he races,” remarked Jabbo Forsythe of Holly Springs Motorsports, in a recent phone call.  “They see how old he is and say ‘I can beat this old man,’ but Jimmy’s as tough as they come.”