Speedway Motors’ racing efforts...
Speedway Motors’ racing efforts hit a winning pace in the ’70s as a string of legendary drivers slid into the cockpits of the company-built and -sponsored 4x Sprint Cars. One of the best was Jan Opperman, one of the original “Outlaws” who charged to victory in the 1976 Hulman Classic “The Race that Changed the World”.
Speedway’s racing efforts extended beyond the dirt track. In 1989, two of Bill and Joyce’s four sons, Carson and Jason, teamed up to capture the American IndyCar Series championship with a Lola-Chevrolet driven by Robby Unser. Unser also piloted Speedway entries in the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb in the ’90s, bringing home class wins in 1991 and 1992, and setting an Open Wheel Class record in 1994 that still stands today. On flatter ground, the Speedway-sponsored Bonneville streamliner, built by John MacKichan and driven by Tim Schulz, set a 326.17-mph record in 1990, powered by a single small-block Chevy V-8.
Street rodding enjoyed new life in the ’70s and ’80s as well. Speedway Motors was in the thick of it, attending the first-ever Street Rod Nationals in 1970, and every NSRA Nationals since. Speedway expanded its street rod product offering in the early ’80s by purchasing the Mr. Roadster brand of parts, and continued to develop new and innovative products for the street market. The “kit rod” concept, first developed with T-buckets decades earlier, hit a new pace, with Speedway’s LoBoy ’32 roadster kit being used as a project vehicle for Hot Rod in 1985, and again as a buildup series in STREET RODDER in the late ’90s.
Speedway Motors began offering...
Speedway Motors began offering a print catalog in the early ’60s to help reach a wider base of potential customers. The catalog quickly became a vital marketing tool for Speedway Motors—and a bible for many enthusiasts.
Speedway’s continued growth meant a move to a larger facility in the late ’70s, and another move to its current 500,000-square-foot warehouse in 2000. Along the way, Bill and Joyce somehow found time to organize their extensive collection of vintage engines, cars, parts, and toys into a formal display. The Smith Collection Museum of American Speed, a world-class, federally recognized 501(c)(3) museum, first opened in 1992. A decade later, it moved to its current location on the Speedway Motors corporate campus, growing to 135,000 square feet over three levels (and soon to expand again).
“Assembling the collection was never about money, or winning the ‘big dog’ contest,” Bill says. “It’s always been about doing the right thing, and giving back to the world. That’s far more important than money. These physical examples of the past help us move forward to the future.”
You might have expected Bill to let off the throttle a little after Speedway Motors celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2002. Quite the opposite; it’s been full speed ahead for the past decade. With his wife and partner, Joyce, at his side, and the couple’s four sons—Carson, Craig, Clay, and Jason—on board as part of the management team, Speedway Motors has continued to grow and expand in the new millennium.
In 2005, Speedway Motors introduced the Signature Series ’32 roadster, a revolutionary all-steel street rod that comes fully painted, upholstered, and assembled, minus engine and transmission.
Like many hot rodders, Bill...
Like many hot rodders, Bill is a collector. For decades he acquired used and vintage speed parts, engines, race cars, and memorabilia as he traveled across the country and around the globe attending races, swap meets, rod runs, and auctions. This assortment of artifacts has been formally organized into the Smith Collection Museum of American Speed, a federally approved 501(c)(3) museum with the goal of preserving rodding and racing heritage for future generations. The museum occupies a three-story facility on the Speedway corporate campus and is undergoing expansion this year.
Speedway expanded its manufacturing capabilities and product selection in 2008 through the acquisition of the Indiana-based A-FAB Corporation, which manufactures AFCO performance shocks, springs, and radiators and the Dynatech brand of performance headers and exhaust components. In early 2009, Speedway acquired Total Performance, bringing new life to its popular line of T-bucket kits and products. The Speedway Motors–sponsored Streamliner had one last hurrah on the salt in 2010, setting a D/FS land speed record of 323.3 mph during the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association World of Speed meet at Bonneville. And last year, Speedway Motors put a new big rig on the road, traveling to more than 20 events coast to coast to showcase the company’s latest products to enthusiasts.
As Speedway Motors races into its 60th year, there are even fewer signs of slowing down. They are continually developing innovative new products for racing and rodding, and finding better ways to serve its loyal customers. “Speedy” Bill Smith can still be found in his office every day, overseeing a team of more than 300 employees. It’s a great example of the strong work ethic that permeates the company, one that is summed up in one of Bill’s favorite quotes: “The smart guy will outsmart himself. The lucky guy will run out of luck. The money guy will never have the desire. But hard work will take you anywhere you want to go.”
Here’s to 60 years of hard work and success.
Speedway Motors has acquired...
Speedway Motors has acquired several new brands in recent years, including AFCO and Total Performance. The latter reinvigorated the company’s T-bucket line. A Speedway Motors DeLuxe ’23 T and Tribute T are shown here.
There are simply too many...
There are simply too many tales from Speedway’s 60-year history to tell in detail here. If you want to know more—or if you simply want a fascinating read about business, life, and the adventures of racing and hot rodding—be sure to pick up Fast Company, Bill Smith’s autobiography written with racing journalist Dave Argabright. It’s available at www.speedwaymotors.com.
Speedway Motors has always...
Speedway Motors has always been a family owned company. In fact, Bill’s wife, Joyce, loaned him the $300 needed to start the company in 1952. The couple’s four sons—shown here from left, Clay, Carson, Craig, and Jason—are all involved in Speedway’s day-to-day operations.