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    Longtime Speedway Employee Bob Smith Announces Retirement

    Longtime Portsmouth Raceway Park Flagman Bob Smith recently announced his retirement after 33 seasons of service at the Coleman-Family owned facility.

    "He means a lot to us," PRP's Jenny Coleman said. "He was devoted to our family business and we appreciate him and all the time he gave up to stand on that flag stand and later be in the tower."

    Smith started working at PRP during the track's first full season in 1991.

    "We had a lot of good crowds, and it was a special place to work," Smith said. "I have a lot of good memories at PRP."

    Smith has spent 47 years working at various different race tracks, with most of those standing atop a flag stand where he was tasked with ensuring the safety of the racers and track officials while enforcing the rules of the sport.

    "I've enjoyed it and met a lot of really good people," Smith said. "I came across a few that were a little difficult to deal with, but that's part of it if you're going to be an official. I would always lay things out to the drivers in the drivers meeting and always felt I was fair. My conscience is clear with everything I've done."

    Smith said he became interested in dirt track racing in 1969 when he started helping a high school friend with his race car. Smith then began working at Southern Ohio Speedway in 1975 as a track official in the pits. In 1977, he would climb atop the flag stand at Southern beginning a career as a chief starter that would span over 40 years.

    Smith would serve as the flagman for Southern, Atomic/KC, and Checkered Flag. He also flagged events at Mountain Motor Speedway and Perry County Speedway. In total, Smith said he has worked at 47 different tracks.

    In 1985, he would flag the entire 21-race season for the National Dirt Track Racing Association (NDRA) traveling to events in various different states. Exposure from that '85 season landed Smith a lot of flagging jobs for special events from 1986 through 1990 at tracks in Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia. He also worked at the Wheelersburg Go-Cart Track in the late 1990s.

    During Bob Smith's career, he flagged various different types of dirt-track race cars, tractor pulls, and even a benefit lawn mower race.

    After flagging at Portsmouth Raceway Park from 1991 through 2019, Smith moved into the scorers' tower in 2020 where he would speak to the drivers' over Raceivers (one-way radio communication allowing drivers to hear from the track). Smith would help warn the racers of danger, notify them of caution flags, and get them lined up for restarts.

    During Smith's time on PRP's flag stand, he always prided himself on looking professional. Smith always donned a uniform, freshly cleaned for every race, with washed and dried flags to match.

    "I'm that way with everything I do," Smith said. "I'm just a neat freak. That's the way I've always been my entire life. If you're going to be standing in front of those people, you don't won't to look like you just came off of Skid Row. You want to look neat."

    Smith graduated from Minford High School in 1964 and would go on to spend six years in The U.S. Navy sailing on a couple of different battleships.

    He worked as a truck driver for the late Delmas Conley, a Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame driver. Smith spent 41 years at Conley Trucking running six or seven loads. Smith said he spend the last 10 years or so of his days driving an 18-wheeler by beginning his days around 3 a.m. before heading to a stone quarry in Peebles, OH where he always wanted to be one of the first trucks in line to get loaded.

    Smith still works part-time at Hill View Retirement Center in Portsmouth as a transporter and mail runner.

    Smith and his wife Lenna have been married for 56 years. She too spent time working at PRP assisting in the press box for close to 10 years.

    Smith jokingly said that he told Lenna, "If she outlives me, just go ahead and drape my flags over the casket cause the race is over."

    Everyone at Portsmouth Raceway Park wishes the best to Bob in his retirement and thanks him for his many years of service to the track and to the sport.

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