Sammy Smith, 12, wins first INEX Legends feature at Hawkeye Downs

Co-crew chief: 'When you see stuff like this, it's amazing'

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sammy Smith won his first INEX Legends feature at Hawkeye Downs on Friday night.

Smith, who makes the two-hour drive from the Des Moines area every Friday night to race at Hawkeye Downs, is 12.

Of course, he can’t legally drive to Hawkeye Downs, which has seen NASCAR drivers Landon Cassill and Joey Gase take to the banked oval quarter and half-mile tracks, but Smith’s lack of a driver’s license did not stop him from driving the No. 12 car to the checkered flag.

Smith, who goes to school in Johnston, said his classmates know he races cars, and they know he wins.

Sammy Smith’s dad, Kurt, reminded the 12 year old, who flies to North Carolina to race Legends cars during the week, to thank his sponsors, who include Harrold Annett with TMC, Matt Riesselman with ThreeWide, and John Renda with Communication Data Links.

Like any 12-year-old might, Sammy Smith had an answer for his dad.

“I forget,” Sammy said.

Smith’s victory is no fluke, however. He ranked fifth in the Dublin City Pub INEX Legends standings heading into Friday’s race, though that could change with Smith becoming the eighth different winner on the series this season.

The young driver beat the likes of Austin Blake, third in the points standings, Mark Ironside, eighth in the points standings, and Cole O’Brien, fourth in the points standings.

Crewed by John Bradford Sr. and John Bradford Jr, who said they fell in with the Smiths through friends of friends by being in the right place at the right time, know the driver they are crewing for, who is well under half as old as the senior John Bradford, could be something special.

“Time to continue it” John Bradford Jr. said.

John Bradford Sr. added that racing in North Carolina and Atlanta has helped Smith.

Smith, who dreams of NASCAR racing but in the meantime hones his driving between Cedar Rapids, Atlanta and North Carolina, said he works his brakes harder on the flatter ovals when he heads south, and he adjusts his driving accordingly back on the banked turns of Hawkeye Downs, where he has yet to race a full season.

“He started out, running half a season last year and this year,” John Bradford Jr. said. Working with a 12-year-old, he added, can be crazy. “When you see stuff like this, it’s amazing.”

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