Mark Smith started riding motorbikes at an early age, seven years old to be precise. His father bought him a C70 (Step Threw) (70cc) for messing in the fields were they lived in Romsey, Hampshire. Being in a family where his dad was a Teddy boy riding a BSA. Mark had a couple of more bikes and then got a weekend job at 13 years old working on a green grocer market stall at Romsey Market. He wanted to get a road bike and made a deal with his mother that he paid for the bike, tax and insurance, that he would get a job.
So he left school in 1985 and went to work at Romsey Fruit centre at Romsey Market for the next five years. He bought a Yamaha DT50 for £150. He and his mates had heard about the Bulldog Bash decided to go and attend their first Bulldog Bash at Avon Park now named Shakespeare County Raceway in 1988 and had a go on the drag strip in the RWYB and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and hasn’t looked back since. He attended the Bulldog Bash event every year up to 2003 competing in RWYB on a GXS 550 and later on GXSR 1100.
Mark then took a career change and went to work at Avon Lippon Hobbs driving a 360degree Caterpillar and then 574 D9 Caterpillar with a blade laying gas pipes. He also drove a 22RV crane.
1996 saw another career move this time to Draper Tools as a bench technician.
The drag racing bug got to Mark and in 2008 he joined the Straightliners Series starting off in 10.90 bike class and then progressing to 9.90 class with GXSR 1260cc with nitrous and then into 9.50 class with a 1340cc with nitrous and racing against Dale Leeks.
At the end of 2008 he bought Paul Watson Pro Stock bike (the last Pro Stocker that Paul Willis raced) his first slick and wheelie bar bike. He competed in Pro Stock Bike the following year. This was going to be a big learning curve for Mark and his wife Kerry and crewman Mark Green. Mark had his fair share of mechanical problems with engine and transmission failures, during the first three years. Using a Vance/Hines two-valve motor (1655cc) he had a crankshaft break at his first ACU event (Easter Thunderball). He had a slightly better year in 2010 still having issues with motor. For 2011 Mark bought a new crankshaft, pistons, block and a new five speed transmission and had Ray Debben of Debben Performance modified the cylinder head to make the Vance/Hines motor into a1755cc. Still had issues with 1755cc motor. They say every cloud has a silver lining and Mark finished runner up to Len Paget in the 2011 ACU Pro Stock Bike Championship. 2011 also saw Mark compete in his first European UEM Championship in Pro Stock bike at European Finals at Santa Pod.
Over the winter break Mark contacted Stuart Crane at Warpspeed racing to build Mark a new chassis. It was a slow start for Mark in the 2012 season but once he had a set up for the bike he went on to win his first ACU event at the Extreme Performance Bike Weekend meeting at Santa Pod. Over the winter break, Mark bought a 1640cc two-valve motor from Chris Hope and also got a motor off Roger Upperton 1640cc four-valve motor.
Last year he teamed up with Stuart Crane of Warpspeed racing, Dale Leeks and Mark Green as part of a four-bike team sponsored by MPM Oil. He continued were he left off and won the opening event of 2013 at the Festival of Power at Santa Pod and then at the Springspeed Nationals at Shakespeare County he finished runner up to Len Paget. Mark won the National Finals event at Santa Pod and claimed the ACU Pro Stock Bike Championship and also the 2013 SPRC Pro Stock Bike Championship.
Mark says none of this would be possible without my sponsors MPM Oil, Draper Tools, Debben Performance, Warpspeed Racing, TW Metals, MDH Repair centre and Greens Plumbing and the support from my amazing crew of Kerry and Mark. Special thanks to Stuart Crane of Warpspeed Racing for his help without him Mark says he would still be in his garage at home trying to work out were things go. Also he is very thankful for all the support and finances from his mother and father during his racing career.
Today Mark is still working at Draper Tools and for the last ten years as a workshop manager. Draper Tools also sponsor Mark’s Pro Stock bike and have done for the last few years.
Report by Steven Moxley.