Life in the Fast Lane with Smith Motorworks
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. David Smith certainly loves what he does.
When you think of motorsport, the first places that come to mind are probably Daytona or Indianapolis. But Smith’s shop, Smith Motorworks, provides the smell of race gas and the sight of sportscars right here in Northwest Florida. His shop specializes in the sale and service of high performance sports cars.
“We do Porsche and Ferrari only, we do a little bit of Lamborghini and some of the other exotic, but basically we do performance work and service work on Porsche and Ferrari,” David Smith, owner of Smith Motorworks said.
Smith Motorworks was hard hit by Hurricane Michael back in 2018. Since the storm, they relocated from Panama City to Cauley Ave. in Panama City Beach. Since its reopening, Smith Motorworks has had no shortage of business. Smith said he has to turn away potential customers regularly because he can’t keep up with the demand.
Normal days at the shop are spent maintaining customer cars. Bay County is home to a surprising number of Porsche’s and Ferrari’s. But for Smith, that’s very much a day job.
“I have to work on cars because that’s the only way I can afford to go racing all the time. But I do love working on race cars and performance cars in general, and I am a car guy at heart,” Smith said.
Historic sportscar racing is Smith’s passion. He can be found competing at Historic Sportscar Racing (HSR) events among others all across the country.
“So we race mainly historic Porsches all over the southeast. We’ve been as far as Watkins Glen NY and California and different race tracks around the US,” said Smith.
Smith personally owns a yellow Porsche 993 GT2 nicknamed ‘fireball’.
“There’s nothing like it. I have never done anything else in life that I enjoy as much as racing,” Smith said.
Motor racing is a time consuming hobby. It takes an extraordinary amount of effort to get a car out to the race track.
“My girlfriend asks me all the time why I enjoy doing it because I work my butt off to get the cars ready and then you drive all night to get there and it’s all the setup and preparation and all the work that goes into it. But for me, the first turn, the first time I get into the car and hit that first turn I forget about all of that and it’s just pure bliss for me,” said Smith.
That feeling of adrenaline and joy is worth the labor and hardships. Not just for Smith, but for an entire community of gear heads.
“It doesn’t matter how famous you are, how much money you have, whatever, we all are just interested in each other’s cars and just wanting to have a good time. Of course I want to win, but I want everyone else to have a great time doing it as well,” said Smith.
Motorsport is not just for those with a thick wallet and a purpose built racecar. Anyone can get started.
“You don’t have to race a Porsche, you don’t have to have a Ferrari, you don’t have to have an expensive car. Guys go in all kinds of cars - Honda Civics, Honda Accords, things that are not necessarily the big horsepower cars,” Smith said.
Next July, Smith Motorworks will be taking their Porsche 935 to France. Smith will be checking off another box on his bucket list by competing at the world-renowned Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe.
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