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Andy Smith, Professor Motor, 1948-2022


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#1 Alchemist

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Posted 25 June 2022 - 05:56 PM

I just stumbled across this info stated in the video.

 

Sad news!

 

Ernie

 


Ernie Layacan




#2 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 26 June 2022 - 09:34 AM

RIP, Andy.


Larry D. Kelley, MA
retired raceway owner... (for now)
race directing around Chicago-land

 

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#3 Tex

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Posted 26 June 2022 - 10:34 AM

Sad news... RIP Andy...

 

Save us a spot at the driver's panel for when we get there...


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Richard L. Hofer

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#4 Tim Neja

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 10:15 AM

So sad our industry continues to say goodbye to wonderful supporters of slot racing! 

 

RIP, Andy.  


She's real fine, my 409!!!

#5 Sloter

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 10:56 AM

RIP!

 

Bob


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#6 Dennis David

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 02:59 PM

For us 1/32 guys, Professor Motor was one of our go-to places for parts. I hope his son continues in Andy's footsteps.


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Dennis David
    
 


#7 Phil Smith

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 09:04 PM

I've never heard anyone mention him, which is odd, seeing how well known his controllers are.

 

RIP, Andy.


Phil Smith ® ©


#8 MSwiss

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 11:33 PM

Phil,
 
You don't hear about him much on (commercial raceway oriented) Slotblog, because for the past 35 years or so, Andy Smith was more of a mover and shaker in vintage slot car parts and 1/32 homeset cars, mail order.

That said, I've been a bit surprised there isn't more of a story on Slot Car Illustrated and Home Racing World. I bet there is a Facebook page where it's more of a big deal.

You may not be aware, but the 1986 Nats, when P. A.Watson won his first National title, was held at Andy Smith's Family Hobby and Cones.

A lot of interesting stories came out of that Nats, and more so, the warmup race leading up to it.

All involving worries of possible fire and some entertaining/semi-scary, real fires.
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Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990), eight G7 main appearances
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder

17B West Ogden Ave., Westmont, IL 60559, (708) 203-8003, mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address)

Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516


#9 Phil Smith

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Posted 27 June 2022 - 11:49 PM

Mike, I didn't know any of that. That sounds really interesting. You should elaborate!!


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#10 MSwiss

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 12:42 AM

Phil,

I thought his passing had to be a big deal somewhere.

IIRC, Andy was a white collar worker at Ford, possibly an engineer. If Nelson Swanberg sees this post, I'm sure he'll chime in.

I'm on vacation, but if the Colorado mountains don't wear me out, I'll post the stories in the evening, tomorrow, or Wednesday.

I really enjoy recalling and retelling the stories. Lots of good times back then, with sometimes 60+ racers, running Pro at the Nats.

pm.jpg


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Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990), eight G7 main appearances
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder

17B West Ogden Ave., Westmont, IL 60559, (708) 203-8003, mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address)

Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516


#11 olskoolslotz

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 06:42 AM

Andy will be greatly missed. I first met Andy in the mid-'90s through a metro Detroit vintage slot car club and was fortunate to race and collect with him for many years. On a couple of occasions I worked at the Professor Motor business usually assembling controller boards.
 
Here's Andy's bio with further info shared from the Professor Motor website.

Professor Motor biography
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Dave Dobner

#12 Cheater

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 07:59 AM

I hope his son continues in Andy's footsteps.


The info I have received is that Andy's wife and son will continue to operate the Professor Motor business.
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Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#13 Bill from NH

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 08:00 AM

Great bio, Dave; thanks for sharing it.


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#14 Cheater

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 08:31 AM

Just realized Andy was actually member here at Slotblog. He signed up on Oct 9, 2012, as 'Professor Motor,' but as best I can tell he never made a single post.


Gregory Wells

Never forget that first place goes to the racer with the MOST laps, not the racer with the FASTEST lap


#15 MG Brown

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 12:16 PM

From the Saline (MI) Post:
 
Andrew F. “Andy” Smith, 73, of Ann Arbor, MI passed away June 23, 2022. A long-time resident of Ann Arbor, Andy was born to the late Richard and Joane (Rumely) Smith in Providence, RI, and spent his formative years in Lancaster County, PA.
 
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie (Foust) Smith, of Ann Arbor, MI.
 
Andy was accomplished both professionally and in his interests. He earned two Bachelor Degrees, one in the Arts from Elizabethtown College and the other in Science with honors at Penn State University; and he also earned a Masters in Marketing and Management from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He applied his skills as a talented engineer for nearly 30 years at the Ford Motor Company. While working there, Andy earned both the Powertrain Customer Service Award and the Customer Driven Quality Award, not to mention several other awards, acknowledgments, and contributions he made in the industry.
 
At an early age, Andy developed a strong love for rail racing, now known as slot car racing, and it was a passion he carried with him throughout his life. He won awards, broke records, and received honors over several decades for his achievements in slot car racing. After retirement from Ford, Andy donned the moniker “Professor Motor” and opened his own business catering to his fellow slot car enthusiasts.
 
Surviving in addition to his wife, Bonnie, are three sons, Christopher B. Smith, of Ann Arbor, Timothy A. Smith (wife Melissa) of South Lyon, MI, and Oliver M. Smith (wife Rebecca), of Ann Arbor. Andy is also survived by his brothers Peter G. Smith (wife Toni), of Columbia, PA, and Richard Garry Smith (wife Sherry), of Lancaster, PA, and sister Cathy Rittenhouse (husband Victor), of Lancaster. Also surviving are his eight grandchildren, Charlotte and Caitlyin Smith, Sydney, Carley, and Lacey Smith, Nolan, Lenna and Adalynn Smith.
 
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday July 2, 2020 at 11am at Charles Snyder Jr. Funeral Home & Crematory, 3110 Lititz Pike, Lititz, PA 17543. The family is receiving friends and relatives at a viewing from 9:30am - 11:00am with the funeral from 11:00am - 12:00pm at the funeral home. Interment to follow 3:00pm at Millbach Cemetery, Lebanon, PA. In lieu of flowers, the family would like memorial contributions in Andy’s memory made to American Heart Association 7272 Greenville Avenue Dallas, TX 75231, www.heart.org, St. Jude’s Children’s Center, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105, www.stjude.org, or Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000 Boone, NC 28607, www.samaritanspurse.org.
 
The funeral service will be Livestreamed and available on Andy’s obituary page.
 
To send the family online condolences, please visit https://www.snyderfu...andrew-f-smith/


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That's thirty minutes away. I'll be there in ten.
 

 


#16 TSR

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Posted 28 June 2022 - 04:56 PM

Very sad to read this. Andy was a truly good guy and a great supporter of our hobby.

 

Rest in Peace.


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Philippe de Lespinay


#17 bradblohm

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 08:03 AM

Many of you know that I worked for Andy between 2010 and 2012, then left Ford to work in the shop again between 2016 and 2019 when he had a health scare. In late 2019 I went back to that IT team at Ford, but I've helped Andy, Bonnie, and Oliver whenever I could, and I will continue to do that. Oliver has been running things for a while, so I wouldn't expect any changes. I will be in PA for the funeral, but not sure future plans will be discussed. I know I won't bring it up!

 

As for Andy's knowledge, it's my understanding that he was always a better builder than racer, and early on nobody had more motor, hence the nickname from some of Professor Motor. Many years ago I asked him about getting proper gear mesh and received a 20 minute dissertation regarding "gear conjugation." Andy spent many years in design at Ford Transmission, so he had the knowledge and experience with multi-million dollar equipment to measure any speed-ups/slow-downs of shafts during conjugation. He then told me the only reason he explained in such detail was that I could and would take the time to understand. He was an engineer!

 

So many stories, especially involving JPvR...

 

Brad


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#18 MSwiss

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 09:41 AM

Here's are a couple nice tributes to Andy, on Facebook.

20220629_083633.jpg

20220629_083708.jpg


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Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990), eight G7 main appearances
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder

17B West Ogden Ave., Westmont, IL 60559, (708) 203-8003, mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address)

Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516


#19 Dave Crevie

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 11:41 AM

I only met Andy twice, briefly. I was so impressed by his persona. The first time was at the IMCA Worlds, and the second at the RCHTA show in Rosemont. He was the driving force behind the 1/32 home racing movement, and in my personal opinion made it what it became in this country. Plus, he was a major supplier for commercial and vintage slot racing products. 

 

Rest easy, Andy. You left a very positive mark on our hobby.


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#20 MSwiss

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 06:11 PM

Dave,
I agree with your assessment of Andy.

He might be on the Mt. Rushmore of important deceased slot car figures, along with Ken MacDowell, Bob Haines and John Ford.

While I would usually see Andy at Al DeYoung's big slot car shows, and say "Hi," my dealings with Andy were more when he owned a commercial raceway.

In 1986, Andy's Family Hobbies and Cones was the place to be if you were a racer, with him hosting that year's Nats. He was in that in-between area, where he hosted both Midwest and Tri-State points races, and with having the Nats, they were both well-attended, with racers you might usually not see, like Jon Laster.

He had a smooth Hasse King, with real strong power that usually required a choke. Chokes had come on the scene in 1983, when the Nats were at Centerville/Cinderville, but faded away the next two years with the race on the real mild power in Clovis, and sensible power at P. A. Watson's, in Houston/Pasadena.

Chokes were back for FM&C, and I was at one of those points races that served as a warm-up.

I was marshaling the donut, with Laster nearby, running on red or white.

I started smelling something burning. Right at the time I said something like, "It doesn't smell like a motor," Laster's "Cheap Radio Shack hookup wire wrapped around a pop can" choke ignited. Pooooof!!!

I can't say I remember seeing a flash or flames, but the raceway was overwhelmed by smoke.

After Andy opened up the doors, and we had about a 10-minute break for the smoke to clear, the race continued without further incident.

So the race ended and they had the real race on the dragstrip.

Fantom's Ray Birmele, "driving" Raisin Garrett's G7 powered dragster, vs. Alpha's John Pierce's with his Estes rocket engine powered "Lava Machine".

After some negotiations, Andy agreed to let them race.

I'm pretty sure that was the Lava Machine's maiden voyage, so no one knew what to expect.

Andy added another blanket to the shutdown, and then calmly walked over and took the fire extinguisher off the wall.

As they were staging, Andy stood stoically at the end of the strip, holding the fire extinguisher across his chest, like a rifle.

With Andy's physique, from testing all his "inventory" from the ice cream end of the shop, the comparisons to Smokey the Bear started up from the spectators.

The race did not disappoint.

Ray purposely red lighted so he could stay ahead of the Lava Machine's backwash.

He was half way down the strip when John took off, and caught and beat the dragster.

John's car slammed into the blankets hard,bounced around a little bit, but there was no drama and the smoke was nothing compared to Lasters choke going up earlier.

The Lava Machine's successful, and relatively drama free run down Andy's strip, laid down the groundwork for its future runs down the main chutes of the JK (boring) and West Seattle (absolutely wild) King tracks.

Fast forward to the final few drivers of Pro G7 qualifying, at the Nat's.

I was marshaling the Deadman, in a great mood, sitting 2nd behind P.A., and guaranteed a semi sitout.

Gerard Gabbard was up and quickly blew his motor on the first lap.

Instead of pulling his controller, he decided to keep running, with the motor gone.

He came crawling around the Bank and as he came towards me in the Deadman, his car caught fire.

It was sitting there stopped, a couple a feet away, with flames coming out the back.

I had never encountered a slot car on fire before, and I wasn't sure what to do.

I wasn't real anxious to pick up the car, because I was afraid of having to race and pit my car, with a burnt hand.

But if I let it sit there on fire , it would look bad, and I didn't have any idea if the track could catch fire.

I decided to pick it up and play it by ear.

I grabbed it by the front of a side dam.

I was about to spike it into the carpeting, when I decided to try to "shake out" the flames, at least until it started to burn me.

On about the 3rd shake, the flames went out, and IIRC, Gerald was able to race the car afterwards, of course, after changing motors. Lol

P.A. went on to win over Laster.

I finished 5th after the barrel of one of my tires, broke off of the rest of the hub.(without crashing)

Andy wound up suffering the Nat's curse, closing up the following year.

Shortly after that, he got involved in the JPVR circus, and was instrumental in getting scale, flat track racing, into becoming a thing in the U.S.
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Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990), eight G7 main appearances
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder

17B West Ogden Ave., Westmont, IL 60559, (708) 203-8003, mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address)

Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516


#21 Bill from NH

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Posted 29 June 2022 - 06:39 PM

Was John long-haired and wearing bib overalls then? Those were a couple of his trademarks in the '70s when he came over to race at C. & C. in Coventry, CT.


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I intend to live forever!  So far, so good.  :laugh2:  :laugh2: 

#22 MSwiss

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Posted 30 June 2022 - 12:37 AM

When I got back into racing, in late '81, Jon was a Purple Camen T-shirt, blue jean guy, with medium long hair.

I always admired his "not just going through the motions" marshaling.

For being on competing teams, we got along real, real, well.

He even confided to me on his secret to success, in 1992, when he was virtually unbeatable, and won his only Nat's, and then quickly went back to being just another top racer.

He unfortunately passed before his time , like 1/2 the Pro Main, from that 86 Nats at Andy Smith's raceway.
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Mike Swiss
 
Inventor of the Low CG guide flag 4/20/18
IRRA® Components Committee Chairman
Five-time USRA National Champion (two G7, one G27, two G7 Senior)
Two-time G7 World Champion (1988, 1990), eight G7 main appearances
Eight-time G7 King track single lap world record holder

17B West Ogden Ave., Westmont, IL 60559, (708) 203-8003, mikeswiss86@hotmail.com (also my PayPal address)

Note: Send all USPS packages and mail to: 5858 Chase Ave., Downers Grove, IL 60516


#23 Mr. M

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Posted 30 June 2022 - 10:29 PM

And the secret was?


Chris McCarty

#24 Phil Smith

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Posted 30 June 2022 - 10:54 PM

Great stories, Mike!


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#25 bbr

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Posted 01 July 2022 - 12:43 AM

"He even confided to me on his secret to success, in 1992, when he was virtually unbeatable."

 

???

 

I find that after you have won a race or two... you have gotten the insight of what it takes... then you just refine that formula


Mike Low
Cry like a baby, drive like a girl, walk like a man.
Give me enough rope and I'll build a fast car... or hang myself?





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