In 1974, Darryl Smith started going to drag racing events with his brother Robert. His brother owned drove a '68 Camaro and a '49 injected Anglia which belonged to their father. It was in 1975 with the help of chassis craftsman Fran Diebold, Robert built his dream car, an NHRA Pro Stock Vega. Darryl started traveling with Robert and his brother-in-law Bob Shawcross to many tracks in their part of the country. In the early 1980s, Robert died of heart disease, but Darryl continued to follow the sport after high school.
His professional training as an apprentice race car builder began at Jerry Hass Race Cars. In 1988, the highlight of that program for Darryl was aiding in the construction of the Probe Bob Glidden. After Hass, Darryl attended other programs and learned the craft of race car design, construction, engineering, and aerodynamic packaging.
At HI-TEK Race cars, Gary Jajek Jr. who was a former foreman for Hass accelerated his learning curve. Darryl believes if Gary would have been alive, he would still have been working with him. Gary was a very talented man and amongst his achievements was welding up the chassis that Bob Glidden barrel rolled more than five times. Darryl believes he carries Hajek's work ethics and passion for high quality unless what you are doing something in the best possible way it's not going to be good enough.
Working with Jerry Bickel, Darryl believes he achieved a lot for himself and the program. One highlight from the program includes the Aero packaging on the first '93 Firebird built for Jim Yates. It set records in the tunnel at .213 cd (w/boundary layer covered). Darryl also was part of the team designing the 7.5 degrees layback main hoop and tail section design which continued for a decade.
During this period, he also worked part-time for Steve Dishbein's Superior Race Cars, who previously worked for JHRC's. Darryl considers that the best compliment he ever received from Bickel was when he criticized him for working on race car projects as "NASA PROJECTS" during a meeting. Later Bickel retracted his statement when they met on a flight when Darryl was returning home from the record-setting Pontiac/GM wind tunnel trip. Bickel said that Darryl's ruthless pursuit for perfection was the reason behind their success.
From Bickel's Darryl went to work for Tom Yancer Racer Cars in Arizona. He became the shop foreman within a first working year. After a short tour of San Diego by way of Willie Rells Race Cars, in the late 90s, Darryl returned to Yancer for another track.
Two of Darryl's biggest achievements in the '90s were pioneering the concept of the 'NO BEND' near zero tolerance deflection chassis design on Bo Adam's Dodge, and the other was to develop the concept for the first 4-link system adjustable in 1/8" increments on a Pro Stock Ford Probe built for Darild Wurtz.
Darryl from his twenty-four years of experience has worked seventeen years for or with mostly all of the successful Pro Mod and Pro Stock builders and he has been able to learn more from the success of others than having to learn from his mistakes.