PERRIS – The Perris Auto Speedway is back with another round of interviews featuring some of their top racers about what they are doing during their pandemic downtime. This week the spotlight is on the “Hot Rod Blonde,” Alyssa Smith. When it comes to being affected by the unexpected crisis, perhaps no Perris Auto Speedway racer has been more affected than her. Not only has she been unable to race, but she was a high school senior, and all her senior activities, except for graduation ceremonies, were canceled. Despite that loss, the effervescent teen has had more than enough to keep her occupied.
The PAS: Let’s start with the most obvious question. What have you been up to?
Smith: Well, it sucks, but I have been trying to stay as busy as possible and I have been. My family has gone to the desert quite a few times to go dirt bike riding. My parents are still letting me go see friends. So, I am still able to hang out with my close friends. I have gone to the beach a couple of times. The biggest thing is I got a new puppy. That has definitely kept me busy lately.
The PAS: The pup was one of my later questions, but since you brought it up, let’s talk about her now. She was a graduation present from your parents, correct? What kind of pup is she?
Smith: She was a graduation and birthday present combined into one from my parents. Since I was little, I always wanted a Golden Retriever puppy and now I finally have one. I thought now would be a good time since we would be staying home a lot. It is a lot more work than I thought. I am having fun with her.
The PAS: How old is she and what is her name?
Smith: We got her when she was eight weeks, and she is now nine weeks old. Her name is Bristol. I always said when I get my Golden Retriever, I wanted to name her Bristol. Of course, it is after the racetrack (Bristol International Raceway in Tennessee), and I love the name.
The PAS: This was going to be a great year for you. High school graduation and all the festivities that go with that and stepping up a class to the IMCA Modifieds on the racetrack. When you first heard about the coronavirus, in your wildest dreams could you ever imagine that it would affect you as much as it has?
Smith: I did not think it would get this bad. Like you said, this was my year as so much in my life was supposed to happen. When they first said this is going down, I did not really take it seriously, and I did not think it was going to stop the whole world. I did not think it would stop racing, and on top of it hurt my schooling and everything that went with it. My last day of school, I did not even know it (that it was going to be her last day of school). I was in fifth period, and they said we were going to be off for two weeks. That two weeks got pushed back to four weeks, then six weeks and then they finally canceled the school year. All the events were canceled, and graduation was nothing like it should have been. I definitely did not think it would end this way.
The PAS: Your senior pictures are very cool. You in your cap and gown at the racetrack with your car. Tell us about them and how it came about.
Smith: Honestly, I always wanted to do something with racing in my graduation pictures. It kind of came out from me and my family thinking about it. I have seen people out there who have done it, but I have not seen anybody I know do it. My mother got in contact with the track (Perris Auto Speedway), and they let me come and take pictures there. We looked up some other sports to get ideas.
The PAS: I have got to tell you. They are the best graduation pictures I have ever seen.
Smith: Thank you. Racing definitely is the biggest part of my life so, of course, I had to put it in there.
The PAS: You have raced motorcycles, speedway sprints, factory stocks and street stocks. This year you are jumping up to an IMCA Modified. Have you been able to drive it yet?
Smith: I practiced two times at Perris and got to practice one time at Ventura. Those are the only times I have gotten to drive my car. I was looking forward to it. Moving up to modifieds has been one of my dreams since I started racing. When I was a little girl, I used to watch my father race a modified. It has always been something that I have wanted to do. This is the year I was going to be able to do it and on top of that, I would have been racing with my father. Definitely, a big year that has kind of gotten ruined.
The PAS: How hard was it convincing your mother to let you move up to a modified?
Smith: It was kind of tough. Still to this day she is not sure about it. She is like, “I don’t want to have family problems with you guys racing against each other.” She knows that one day I would eventually move up, so she thinks starting me younger will benefit me in the end. She knows that is my passion and that is what I like to do. She is OK with it.
The PAS: In those three times in the car, what is the biggest difference you have noticed between the street stock and the modified?
Smith: It is a lot different. Everyone told me it is different, but I was like, “I can do it, I can do it.” Once you finally get in the car it is 100% different. The way the car stands up, the power is way faster. I have not been in my first race yet (modifieds) and I know the drivers in modifieds are 100 times better and have way more experience. It is going to be a struggle moving up, but I am excited to start it.
The PAS: Earlier you mentioned that you would be racing against your father. How does he feel about racing against you?
Smith: He has not said a lot, but I know he has always wanted to race with me. I am excited. Me and my father are excited to be on the track together.
The PAS: Your mother came up a few seconds ago in this conversation. I must ask. Who is she going to pull for when you are racing against your father?
Smith: I don’t know, but it better be me. I am just kidding. I am not sure. I guess it depends on the day.
The PAS: Here is a scenario for you. Turn four on the last lap of the main. Your father is leading, and you are right behind in second and you are faster. Do you pass him? Do you bump him out of the way? Or do you let him win?
Smith: I would not drive him dirty. If I have a chance to pass him, I am going to race him like he was any other driver. He has always told me that once we are both on the track, we are both racers. We are not going to rough each other up, and we are not going to drive each other any different from we are going to drive anyone else. I will race him down to the end, and I am sure he will do the same.
The PAS: When do you think you are finally going to be able to start racing this year?
Smith: In California, I have no idea. Me and my father have been looking online. We looked at a couple out of state tracks that we are thinking about going to. Nothing is for sure right now. Also, my father is still working.
The PAS: Back to the family before we wind this up. Your mother and father, older sister and little brother are always in the pits with you. It is really a family affair, isn’t it?
Smith: Since I was little it has always been a family thing. My brother loves it. He is always in the garage helping us out. He does not want any part of racing (the driving part) yet, but hopefully one day he will. My mother is a big part of it, too. I don’t think she has ever missed a race (of Alyssa’s). It is definitely a family thing for us.
The PAS: What is your car number, and who will your sponsors be this year?
Smith: This year I will be the No. 31A. Sponsors start with my mother and father. They have done everything to help me get to where I am. Tom’s Fabrication, Communication Innovations, S&S Racing, Inland Rigging, CMS Metal and Morten Construction. I want to give a shoutout to all of them for sticking by my side through all of this. They have helped me out a lot, and there is nothing I can really do to help them out right now.
Once racing resumes, tickets for all PAS events will be available 24-hours a day by calling 800-595-4849 or online at www.pas.tix.com. For fans who do not wish to buy tickets in advance, there will be plenty available for everyone at the ticket window on race night.
Perris Auto Speedway is located on the SoCal Fair and Event Center, home of October’s Southern California Fair. For directions on MapQuest, the address to enter is: 18700 Lake Perris Drive and the ZIP code is 92571.
For more information, visit Perris Auto Speedway on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or at www.perrisautospeedway.com.
Submitted by Perris Auto Speedway.