Most kids just want to race, but Hunter Smith has found a way to take his passion to the next level. This season Smith changed his number in support of two very serious illnesses that have impacted his family.
Hunter Smith has a win, a pole, three top 5's and six top 10's in just eight starts running a limited schedule in the Slingshot by Tobias National Series and full time at Borger's Speedway in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.
The senior at High Point Regional High School in Sussex, New Jersey, decided to start racing with the number 30. "The thirty represents the thirty million people in the world battling cancer and multiple sclerosis," Smith told K&N News. "Both conditions have affected my family greatly and I wanted to do my part in helping out and raising awareness."
Cancer changed Smith's life before he was even born; one of his grandmothers died of lung cancer. Smith also lost a grandfather to bladder cancer in 2005, and an aunt is a survivor of breast cancer. As for multiple sclerosis, Smith's great aunt, who helped raise the teenager and supported his racing career, is battling the disease.
Smith decided to start racing with the number 30. "The thirty represents the thirty million people in the world battling cancer and multiple sclerosis."
Smith has used the inspiration of his aunt and great aunt, as well as the memory of his grandmother and grandfather, to guide him to a successful first half of the season.
Smith has a win, a pole, three top 5's and six top 10's in just eight starts running a limited schedule in the Slingshot by Tobias National Series and full time at Borger's Speedway in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.
"It's definitely the most consistent season I have ever had," Smith said. "My favorite moment was my very first Slingshot win in April," Smith said. "It was our first race with the number thirty on the car and we were on fire that day. Everything went our way. We qualified on the pole and led every lap. Needless to say, there were a lot of tears between my mom, dad and I. It was so special to win with the thirty too. It felt like I brought all those suffering to victory lane with me, and that was an amazing feeling."
On August 18th, Hunter Smith had his car on display at Sussex County Community College in Hampton, New Jersey, signing autographs and teaching new fans about the sport he loves.
Smith's season has been mostly free of negatives. "Knock on wood," he adds. Smith pointed to a race in late July at Borger's Speedway where he qualified poorly but had worked his way through the field when he tangled with another car while battling for third. Smith managed to "salvage" a respectable eighth after the late race mishap.
Smith also enjoys showing others what he does. On August 18th, he had his car on display at Sussex County Community College in Hampton, New Jersey, signing autographs and teaching new fans about the sport he loves.
Speaking of college, Smith has a tough decision to make in a few months. In September, he will visit his top three college choices: High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, UNC Charlotte and NC State in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Smith intends to major in sport marketing and minor in physical training, two fields he views as instrumental in the development of a racecar driver. Smith also has some lofty racing goals in mind.
"This season, we just want to win," Smith said. "We are sitting in the top five in the championship at Borger's Speedway. The goals are strictly to win and hopefully finish in the top three in points. Beyond this season, I hope to move up and really give my career a jumpstart. I am working real hard to bring sponsors to the table to run some open wheel stuff. My goal for next season would be to run the Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 series."
But if that doesn't work out, Smith says he isn't too picky about where he races. "If I was ever offered the opportunity to run some stock car races, I would accept it with a smile. I really just want to fulfill my dream and race," Smith said.
Smith also talked fondly of K&N Filters and the company's support of his racing career. "K&N helps me in two big ways," Smith said. "The first way is the product. I only use K&N air filters on my racecars and in my personal car. They supply us with the best airflow and keep my engines running smoothly. Second, they do things like this. K&N gives drivers like myself, who are trying to live their dream, a chance to communicate with the fans and show them what we've got."