Smith Boys back in business

Joel and Josh Smith are getting ready for Smith Boys Racing’s return to speedway. Pictures: JACOB HAYDEN

Smith Boys Racing is back in business, but in 2024 this Lowood speedway team is taking a new form with younger blood.

Josh and Aaron Smith debuted at Gatton Speedway riding a classic sidecar donated by Peter Rose, before purchasing a bike of their own from Rose in 2008.

The brothers had some success, winning a B grade final in Maryborough around 2012 riding a 2000 GSXR they built themselves, then moving onto a faster 1989 FZR 1000.

The brothers raced together up until 2012, when Josh’s son Joel was born.

“Then we purchased a house and had a family,” Josh said.

“I was still an apprentice at the time, so it wasn’t really viable, financially.”

Joel recently came of age and is determined to follow in his fathers’ and grandfathers’ footsteps.

Mum Tammy Thomas-Adams said Joel had always loved speedway.

“For the last two years he’s been at his father about building the bike,” she said.

“He’s been working on bikes since he was crawling, he was climbing all over it and underneath it.

Joel recently began practising at Ipswich Switches at Willowbank, a junior speedway club.

“He’s been out practising, he’s only had about three rides on it, he’s getting there but he’s loving it,” Josh said.

Tammy said Joel had a photographic memory for speedway.

“You can ask him about some speedway riders and their number on their bike, and he’ll be able to tell you,” she said.

“He was a bit starstruck in January with Max Fricke and all the international solo riders who came to Brisbane for a centenary meeting.”

Speedway bikes have no brakes and are raced on gravel tracks, so the sport requires a lot of courage and coordination between the passenger and driver.

“It’s like running a bobsled, you’ve got to be in perfect unison with each other,” Josh said.

“It’s trying to get that combination, taking something like the modern class (170 to 210 horsepower range), putting it through a 100mm tire, on dirt, and trying to get traction.

“It’s trying to get that balance point of drive but not drive, traction but not traction.

“You’ve got to break traction in the corner to get it around, but then you’ve got to give it traction down the straights to go fast and keep momentum up.”

If the team is not in unison it can be very dangerous.

“The team has to be a team, they have to be in perfect unison to actually turn,” Josh said.

“Otherwise they don’t turn, they just go straight into a wall, which is not good when you don’t have brakes.”

Josh said he was committed to returning to the sport, joining fellow father and son Alex and Ayden McGee to create a senior and junior team.

“I’m pretty committed now, we’ve just bought the third bike as well,” he said.

“We’ll have the junior team, the senior team, and the dads can have a go on the old classic and race the old fellas, because we’re old fellas.

“Alex and I haven’t ridden together yet, so we’re doing a few practise days to gel with each other.

“The two boys have to get endorsed in a kickstart program.”

The sport is far more expensive than most, but Josh said it was all worthwhile.

“It’s not like soccer where you can go and pay $150 and run for the year, you’re probably looking at $2,000 to $3,000 just to get a team on the track, and that’s not including the bikes,” he said.

“You give yourself a budget of about $10,000 for a bike.

“It’s a fair bit of a burden, but it’s worth it to see that smile.”

Despite all of the associated costs and dangers, the Smith Boys can’t fight what is in their blood

“It’s pure adrenaline for a minute,” Josh said.

“It’s stress relief as well, you just go and murder a motor.”

“When you’re riding you don’t think about having no brakes, it doesn’t bother you at all,” Joel said.