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A Family Affair At Pro Tour / JR Memorial

press release

This weekend’s inaugural running of the Jason Richards Memorial for the Rotax Pro Tour has brought a human element to the racing this weekend – family.

As a competitor, Jason Richards’ attitude was never say die. He was a driver that never gave up and threw 110% into his racing efforts, be it V8 Supercar, karting, Touring Car Masters or historics. As a family man, he was a loving husband to wife Charlotte and devoted father to his two daughters Sienna and Olivia.

His very public and brave fight against cancer brought not only his family closer together, but it brought his other family, the motorsport community, much closer as they strived to help fight the fight that Jason endured until his death before Christmas last year. Although Jason is no longer in the world, his spirit and legacy continues on as the Rotax Pro Tour community rally behind the family in financial and moral support.

One family getting behind this event is the brother and sister combination of Matty and Brittany Smith. The Melbourne-based duo will be racing at the Memorial, but in separate classes. 15-year-old Matty will be racing in Junior Max, whilst older sister Brittany, who is 17-years old and will turn 18 next week, will make her first appearance in Rotax Light since last year’s Rotax Nationals in Geelong.

Above: Matty Smith, competing in Junior Max.
pic - Gary Cooper Photography

Both acknowledge and appreciate the support they give one another as family. “It is super important to be racing together at Albury Pro Tour,” Brittany said. “Not only is it great to have each other there to lean on for support, it is also really good having him there to bounce information off, such as lines, grip levels, etc. At the meetings which we are racing at together we will go over everything after each session, work out what worked and what didn’t and go from there so it’s great.”

This is something that Matty agrees on. “It’s great having Brittany there with me,” he said. “Having someone to gain track information from certainly takes the guesswork out of those early morning carby sessions when she is going out before me! She will come in and tell me where it is slippery or wet and any other little things that might make it a little easier when I go out for mine.

“It’s really cool having her there after a bad race as well, sometimes you need a drivers opinion from a drivers point of view and I know that I will always get that with her... They can be brutal at times but at least she is always honest!”

Above: Brittany Smith, competing in Rotax Light.
pic - Gary Cooper Photography

Whilst honesty might be a racing driver’s worst enemy on occasions, it’s something that helps keep the bond between the pair strong. It’s also brought the importance of this weekend’s JR Memorial closer to home for the pair, as they always look out for one another.

“I actually struggle sometimes to watch Matt race,” Brittany replied. “I find myself turning into the crazy angry parent when he gets taken out or something bad happens! I’m constantly reminding myself to keep calm and not say anything I shouldn’t. It is fantastic being able to do what we do week in week out, we get to spend a lot of time with each other, which has definitely brought us closer over the years. I honestly couldn’t imagine being at the track without him. It just wouldn’t feel right.”

Matty agrees with his sister. “Having Britt there to watch and support me means so much more than I could ever say. Also, we’ve had sibling rivalry for as long as I could remember so I’ve always tried to push harder so that I can perform better than her.”

The positive attitude of Jason Richards as a competitor and as a person left an indelible mark on the pair. Each has their own memory regarding the late Kiwi V8 Supercar star and for Brittany, it was his gutsy drive at last year’s V8 Supercar support race at the Australian Grand Prix.

“For me his drive at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last year was very memorable,” she said. “Not only the physical strength involved but the mental stamina that he had to have to be able to pull something like that off would have been huge. It was so awe inspiring watching him drive, he never gave up, he fought through the lows with an incredible amount of strength and he always had a smile on his face. He was certainly an inspirational person as well as a great driver.”

Matty’s fond memory of Jason related to his last Bathurst 1000 in 2009. “I remember watching him in one of his final V8 Supercars race where he came 2nd, showing off his incredible talent and giving himself his last hoorah,” he said “It was something really touching and I’ll never forget how many people he touched with that result, Holden and Ford fans. I also went to his memorial, it was a very emotional day and so many people went to show their respects.”

It is the humility and passion that the Smiths share which will be the focal point for the inaugural recipient of the Jason Richards Memorial Award, awarded at the conclusion of the meeting on Sunday. The Memorial Award will be awarded to the driver who displays exceptional sportmanship, along with a hard charging, 'never say die' attitude. But most importantly, someone who gave it a red hot go, win, lose or draw.


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