ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. — A year today, June 5th, Central Pa lost sprint car legend Steve Smith Sr. at the age of 74. Saturday night at Lincoln Speedway, was all to pay tribute to the "Black Bandit."
“This (Lincoln) is the place where Steve honed his skills and was able to go to Hagerstown to Ohio to Florida. This was his, at times in his career, his playground," said Brian Leppo, Steve's son-in-law and former sprint car driver.
Smith captured 266 career wins at nearly 30 different tracks; 150 of them coming right here in the Pigeons Hills at Lincoln.
It was a somber day for family and friends as they host the Steve Smith Tribute at the track. It was only fitting to show the fans what the No. 19 means to this area.
“It gives the fans a chance to see the importance of the No. 19 in Pennsylvania because Stevie then took the No. 19 and continued the tradition all across the country as a successful Outlaw on the all-time win list," said Leppo.
Steve's son Stevie followed in his footsteps, capturing 222 career wins. Through his career, Smith helped set the standards of being an innovator, drive and mechanic. Not just the huge impact he had in Central Pa but around the country.
Stevie’s soon to be son-in-law, Tanner Thorson took a few weeks to collaborate with local car owner Aaron Long to pull off a surprise paint scheme of Stevie's dad’s famous No. 19.
“This race wouldn’t be the same race or be the right race if one of his cars wasn’t here. I was fortunate enough to get to talk to Steve before he passed away. I don’t have as such time around him as a lot of people but was very grateful for the times I did," said Thorson.
It’s been many years since the car hit the track but the surprises continued. Stevie’s family surprised him with a throwback fire suit, and that could only mean one thing. Stevie suited up and hopped in the drivers seat for the first time in five years.
Forget the pace lap, just like riding a bike, he hammered down and gave the fans a show; just like he and his father Steve, did during their racing careers.
A tribute to a local legend and one the best the sport has ever seen.