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Longtime local Pikes Peak Hill Climb racer inducted into Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame

October 10, 2017 Updated: October 11, 2017 at 6:43 pm
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Gay Smith poses with his stock car in his garage at his home Friday afternoon.--PHOTO BY KIRK SPEER--6/28/96

Gay Smith dreamed about racing the Pikes Peak Hill Climb after listening to the race broadcast as a young boy with his dad.

At age 27, in 1974, that dream became a reality with the encouragement of father-in-law Vern Shaver, a race car owner and 2011 inductee into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.

Smith raced in the Hill Climb and won the race's Rookie of the Year award. He was hooked.

Saturday - 43 years later - Smith was inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame.

"I was really honored to be inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame," said Smith. "At first, I was almost in shock."

Smith's racing career has taken him to courses all over the world. He has competed in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb for more than 30 years. Early in his career, Gay also began racing with the Colorado Hill Climb Association.

PPHC GAY SMITH
Gay Smith poses with his stock car in his garage at his home Friday afternoon.--PHOTO BY KIRK SPEER--6/28/96 

He also became an accomplished circle track driver and raced at Pikes Peak International Speedway and Beacon Hill in Pueblo.

With an established race team, Smith competed four or five times throughout the year across the U.S. and internationally, from Colorado and New Mexico, to Oberjoch, Germany.

Smith and his fellow racer, the late Bobby Donner, both won their divisions in the Oberjoch Hill Climb in 1987.

In 2009, Smith and co-driver Dale Harrison won the Mexican 1000. He continues to compete in off-road racing in the Baja peninsula, and in 2016 again won the race in his new, Jimco-built race car. Smith and co-driver Matt Loiodice won first place and received the McMillan trophy for outstanding participation.

In the beginning, Smith said, even his accomplishments in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb could not soothe his nerves.

"When I started racing, I was really nervous before the races to the point I thought about not doing it," he said. "But once the green flag dropped, that nervousness was gone, and I was totally focused on driving up the mountain."

"I loved racing so much that I finally shrugged off the nervousness. Soon it was gone, and I wasn't nervous at all. Just focused."

Aside from his many accolades, the core of Smith's racing spirit is his addiction to speed and his desire to compete.

"It's really a thrill to drive a high-performance car on a blind corner around a slippery surface at 100 mph on Pikes Peak," Smith said. "It's the thrill of it all that motivates me."

Smith owns three race cars: two off-road race cars that he has raced in the Mexican 1000 and a Mustang he raced in his last Pikes Peak Hill Climb. He is also the owner of AA Construction in Colorado Springs.

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