OXFORD – For the past three seasons, Oxford native Rusty Smith felt like a slave to his own success.
The price he paid for winning was a weekly sojourn to the Rochester area during the summer months to Spencer Speedway – a roundtrip each race weekend of better than five hours.
From 2012 to 2014, Smith enjoyed the most sustained success of his better-than-two-decade asphalt modified career running at Spencer Speedway in Williamson.
Racing is Smith's passion, but driving – especially a 140-mile commute one way in order to race – proved a grind. "A couple weeks into the season (last year), and we were already burned out from the drive," Smith said.
Smith and his team often talked about pulling out of the points race at Spencer Speedway. But in order to that, something bad would have to befall Smith – or his car.
Fortunately, nothing bad happened to Smith - nor to his modified car - and he continued to run at or near the front. He won four feature races last year, and was never out of the top five. In three years, he had double-digit wins, and every single race over a three-year span, he contended among the top six.
After a third straight track title at Spencer Speedway, Smith decided he would stay closer to home in future years. "If you think about it, we're leaving with a walk-off grand slam," he said. "We ran every lap last year, and never finished outside of the top five. That's an impressive stat against the greatest competitors in all of New York. All of the big-name guys from Oswego to Buffalo run at Spencer. To take that crown three years in a row felt good."