Matt and Angie Smith didn’t have your typical interoffice romance.
In fact, they were fierce – and at times, not very friendly – competitors for years before becoming teammates, then husband and wife five years ago.
The Smiths are the only husband and wife racing against each other in the NHRA’s pro stock motorcycle division, and both are contenders for the title at this weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway.
“There’s times where we butts heads at the track, and it spills over into our personal life,” said Angie Smith. “You have to be a strong, happily married couple to get through those things.”
Matt, of King, is a two-time NHRA champion in pro stock motorcycles (2007 and 2013), with 17 career victories.
Angie, who was born in Winston-Salem, beat her husband in the final at Epping, N.H., for her first NHRA race title earlier this season, and made the NHRA’s “Challenge for the Championship” for the first time.
“I always knew she could go fast,” Matt Smith said.
Both have family connections to racing – Matt’s father is longtime drag racer Rickie Smith, who still competes in the NHRA’s pro mod division, while Angie was a frequent spectator at the races at Bowman-Gray Stadium.
“I told my dad once that I’d like to race there, but he said, ‘No way,’ ” Angie said. “So when I was old enough, I bought a motorcycle instead.”
That’s how Matt and Angie first met, racing against each other in regional drag racing series. At times, it wasn’t a friendly rivalry.
“Her boyfriend she had way back when, he and I didn’t get along, so I guess that that parlayed into her not liking me,” Matt said. “Plus, nobody wanted to get beat by a girl.”
That changed in 2007, when Matt’s team fielded a motorcycle for Angie in two NHRA races. That turned into a full-season ride the following year – as well as a relationship beyond the track, getting married in 2009.
“I guess us spending more and more time together, I guess I figured out that he wasn’t so much of a bad person,” Angie Smith said.
“Nobody’s perfect – he gets mad at me, I get mad at him. But at the end of the day, we still go and sleep in the same bed together.”
Fast times: J.R. Todd, Matt Hagan, Erica Enders-Stevens and Hector Arana Jr. led Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying for the top divisions at the Carolina Nationals.
Todd led Top Fuel qualifying with a run of 3.828 seconds at 310.34 mph, Hagan topped the Funny Car charts at 4.114 seconds at 304.25 mph, Enders-Stevens led the pro stocks at 6.591 seconds at 210.11 mph, and Arana led the pro stock motorcycles at 6.876 seconds at 195.48 mph.
Saturday’s schedule: The nitro and pro divisions will hold their final two qualifying rounds, and the sportsman classes will begin their elimination rounds.