Just two years ago, Floral, AR, driver Brandon Smith had never really considered driving a Super Late Model. He was an accomplished Open Wheel Modified competitor in the north central Arkansas area, and was enjoying his racing ventures in the division. However, for the 2010 campaign his family-owned team decided to make the transition to the ultra-competitive Dirt Super Late Model ranks with the COMP Cams® Super Dirt Series (CCSDS
). He adapted quickly, enjoying several strong runs en route to claiming the 2010 CCSDS Rookie of the Year honors.
In 2011, he returned to the CCSDS tour
with both confidence and a year of experience under his belt. As good as the 2010 campaign was for the young driver, 2011 would be even better, as he claimed two feature wins and ultimately the CCSDS championship. For his accomplishments he received a $5,000 check from the series as well as a host of contingency awards. However, unbeknownst to Smith, he was also about to be presented another special gift. CCSDS
title sponsor COMP Cams®
provided him with an all expenses paid trip to the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week in Las Vegas, NV, during the course of November 30th-December 3rd.
The Las Vegas skyline in early December
"When I received the phone call telling me that my wife and I were being sent to Vegas for the NASCAR Champion's Week as part of my championship awards I was shocked,” says Smith. “It was truly unbelievable. I was excited and knew it would be fun, but I never could have imagined just how memorable it would actually prove to be."
As part of the three day extravaganza in Las Vegas, Smith and his wife Alisha were completely covered in all aspects, from airfare to accommodations and access to all of the events. His experience began with the Myers Brother Luncheon, which was held at the Bellagio Ballroom on Thursday. The event was highlighted by various awards, including fan-voted awards for favorite drivers as well as crew chief awards and various contingency prizes.
"The Myers Brothers Luncheon may have been my favorite experience of the entire weekend,” Smith explains. “It was a real laid back atmosphere, and everyone was so friendly. Jokes and wise cracks were a plenty and there was not a dull moment at it."
From the Myers Brothers Luncheon the festivities moved to the famed Vegas strip, which was barricaded for the NASCAR Victory Lap event. With the street restricted to traffic, NASCAR drivers took their cars down the notorious asphalt strip as they did donuts, burnouts and let their engines scream.
Brandon Smith at the NASCAR After The Lap event
"To see some of my favorite NASCAR drivers in their hotrods laying rubber with the bright lights of the casinos in the background was really a sensory overload. I was dying to hop behind the wheel of one of those cars to join them in the fun," laughs Smith.
Following the Vegas strip extravaganza, the "After The Lap" party was held at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and it was highlighted by a meet and greet with various drivers. Among the drivers that Smith and his wife got to meet be photographed with was 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, Tony Stewart.
"Again I was totally floored at how friendly and approachable the drivers were. Everybody, despite being pulled a hundred different directions, took time to talk, sign autographs and have their photos made," Smith says.
After a long and fun, yet exhausting day, the Smith couple called it a night as they prepared for another big day on Friday. Friday's festivities began with a luncheon at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, which served as an appetizer for the evening's NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion's Banquet.
"The NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship banquet was really a site to behold. It was no doubt the nicest event I've ever attended, and it was really a first class experience from top to bottom,” Smith says. “No expense was spared in the presentation, and I quickly learned that many of these drivers and crew members are truly nuts. Again there was not a dull moment, and I don't know that I've laughed that much ever."
Brandon and Alisha Smith with Sirius Radio's Claire B. Lang
As the banquet drew to a close, so did Brandon and Alisha Smith's dream trip.
"My only complaint is that I wish it had last three times as long. It was an incredibly fun trip, and is something my wife nor I will ever forget." Smith says. "I've always had a ton of respect for COMP Cams®
as a company for what they do for our sport. However, after meeting some of their employees during the preparation for this trip, I've got to say they have to be the friendliest and most courteous people that I've ever dealt with. You can tell that they truly care about their customers, and it really shows in the way that they talk to you and make every effort to help you. My wife and I are indebted to them for this trip of a lifetime." COMP Cams®
Vice President of Marketing, Chris Douglas, was extremely honored to be able to present Brandon Smith with such a special gift to honor his championship.
"Brandon had a great year with the CCSDS tour
, and he was very deserving of this added bonus,” Douglas says. “At COMP Cams®
we strive to support our customers as much as possible whether it be through incentives, tech support, or top-of-the-line performance products." COMP Cams®
has been involved with the COMP Cams® Super Dirt Series
for the past four years and became the title sponsor for the 2011 season. COMP Cams®
is excited to announce that it will again be the title sponsor of the series for 2012, as the CCSDS
continues to be one of the top regional tours not only in the South, but also in the country.
Brandon Smith with 2011 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Andy Lally
For more information on the COMP Cams®
Super Dirt Series please visit www.COMPDirt.com