Beyond the Ropes: Cameron Smith shares passion for cars
He’d only owned the car for seven days, and Cameron Smith had already put 1,000 miles on it. This isn’t just any car, after all. The Nissan GT-R that the 23-year-old Aussie bought with a portion of his earnings from that recent win at the Zurich Classic is his “pride and joy.” And Smith certainly didn’t want the gleaming blaze metallic sports car to sit idle in the driveway of his house in Jacksonville, Florida. One day, in fact, he and his girlfriend decided to go for a “drive” -- all the way to Orlando and back. “I didn’t buy it just to look at it,” Smith said with a smile. The GT-R is Nissan’s top-of-the-line sports car, one that Smith has long admired. So, when he and Jonas Blixt beat Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown on the fourth hole of sudden death at TPC Louisiana in April, Smith knew just how to splurge. “I’m really into my Japanese cars, and that's kind of like the best of the Japanese cars that you can get,” he said. “That's pretty much why I bought it.” Smith made sure his shiny new toy had a practical side to it, too, though. “I can put my golf clubs in the back,” he said. And sure enough, there it was in the parking lot at TPC Sawgrass, standing out among all the courtesy cars, as Smith, who ranks 27th in the FedExCup, competed in THE PLAYERS Championship for the first time. Smith comes by his love of cars honestly. His father, a talented golfer in his own right, also was a “bit of a rev head” who restored several old cars. Smith is following in his footsteps – with a twist. Smith is in the process of building a time attack car. Time attack racing – which features modified road cars competing for the best lap time -- began in the 1960s in Japan and is now featured worldwide. He keeps the car at his home in Brisbane, where Smith was born. Not surprisingly, it’s a Japanese car, a Subaru WRX, which he and a friend of a friend are modifying. “It’s a normal car,” Smith said. “I still drive it when I'm home on the road in Brisbane, but yeah, we're in the process of getting more stuff done to it.” The car has a 4-cylinder boxer engine with a turbo that has about 700 horsepower. Smith says a standard car has about 280 “so we’ve done a fair bit to it. “It's not really built for top speed because of the gearing and stuff like that, but it's pretty quick off the mark, and it gets up to speed really quick,” he said. On weekends when he’s back home in Australia, Smith likes to go to Willowbank Raceway, which is located about 30-45 minutes west of Brisbane. He does more than spectate, though. Sometimes Smith actually takes his car out on the track. When the raceway isn’t hosting an event, there’s a core group of about 100 people who like to meet for informal competitions. “Basically people just drive in from the street, and then you just go around the circuit and then as soon as you get to a straight you line up against someone else and you just drag them down the straight,” he said. Does he win? Almost always. “Our car is too quick,” Smith said. He estimated that the fastest he’s ever driven the car is 240 kilometers, which roughly translates to 174 mph. If he ever decides to start racing the car seriously, though, Smith expects to get a pro behind the wheel. For now, though, he’s having fun with the car. “You don't do it for prize money or a trophy or anything, it's more for just like, I've got the fastest car, like bragging rights,” Smith said. “It's all just for fun, and we have a laugh afterwards.” And just in case you were wondering, Smith is not about to quit his day job on the PGA TOUR.
Share the details of Beyond the Ropes: Cameron Smith shares passion for cars with your friends: