Sam Smeeths Journey to Professional Racing

22nd Aug 2017

Sam Smeeth made his debut as a racing driver in 2013 at Mugello. Since teaming up with Stratstone, Sam Smeeth attained the 2016 Trofeo Pirelli Am Europe in the Ferrari Challenge 458 Class. Following his success at the top of the amateur Ferrari classes, Sam has this year entered the heady heights of pro racing in the Ferrari Challenge 488 Class.

Early Beginnings

From a very early age, Sam Smeeth has had a need for speed. Before he could walk he had a ride-on lorry that his parents bought him. Much to their horror he would zoom around on it, drifting round the corners on the slippery surfaces. Sam's Dad is a big Ferrari fan and he used to watch F1 with him and vividly remembers the excitement of watching the rivalry of Mansell, Senna and Prost as they jostled for position on his TV.
Sam Smeeth sat on a yellow Ferrari. Yellow Ferrari 488.
Sam Smeeth sat on a yellow Ferrari. Yellow Ferrari 488.
The First Season as a Pro

During the 2017 season, Sam has so far raced at Valencia, Monza and Hungaroring, Budapest. A particular highlight for him was travelling to the Hungaroring in Budapest. The tight turns and bumpy terrain of this Cold War-era track make it a very challenging track to race on, overtaking being particularly difficult, in fact it is known as 'Monaco without the buildings' for this very reason. So, it is little wonder that Sam was revelling in the opportunity to race at this infamously tricky track.

"I always love learning new tracks and traveling to new places so the Hungaroring was probably my favourite experience this year. We really enjoyed finding time to explore Budapest while we were there... and we came home with a trophy!"

Le Mans

Sam's favourite track so far is Le Mans.

"Supporting the 24-hour event, the most famous event in the world, was a childhood dream come true! The circuit, as most will know is extremely high speed, technically demanding with plenty of places for overtaking. Racing in front of several hundred thousand people is an unforgettable experience. The icing on the cake for the weekend was finishing the race first-in-class, second overall amongst a field of 50 identical Ferrari 458 Challenge race cars."

On the Up

Up to the start of this season the fastest car Sam had driven was the 458 Challenge.

"The 458 is a brilliantly balanced car and so rewarding to drive. However, the 488 Challenge is better in every way, it's more powerful, generates more grip and, surprisingly provides better creature comforts with improved Aircon, ABS and traction systems."

The Challenge of Ferrari

Driving a Ferrari always makes you feel special whenever you sit behind the wheel, as a racing car nothing could be better. However, this year the competition has been tougher than ever before. Entering his first season ranked as a professional driver, Sam has had to compete against some extremely experienced and highly talented drivers.

Rising to the Challenge

But Sam was not daunted by the challenge and has grown in confidence as he has qualified and found the edge to push himself further when making small micro-second adjustments and decisions while racing. The biggest challenge for the rookie has been to relax and to know when and how hard to push.

Moving up the Grid

Currently third in the championship and only a point behind second place, it would be easy to get carried away as it is still mathematically possible to win the championship. What he must do though is to focus on the next race, Silverstone. Hopefully, the home advantage will hold Sam and Stratstone in good stead for a win and some good points to progress further up the leader boards.

Stratstone Put Sam on the Podium

Sam has been racing for five seasons in all, although this is only his second full season in the Ferrari Challenge and his first year as a Pro. Previously he was only able to race occasionally but now, with the support and backing of Stratstone, Sam has been able to compete for two full seasons. Looking ahead, Sam hopes Stratstone will continue to support him through next season and that this backing, coupled with the additional experience he has gained from this year, will enable him to achieve race wins and the Pro championship... With a bit of luck, he could even clinch the championship podium this year!