Canada’s drag racing community did welcome a very colourful new player during 2021……

If there was ever any doubt about the potential addictive qualities for the sport of drag racing — there is no need to look any further!

Mike Clark

One of the most eye-opening drag racing news stories from within Canada this past season was a rapid and impactful rise from the Ontario-based Smokies Garage drag racing team – based from Mono Ontario.

Buoyed by a strategic association with Scott Wildgust from Stratford ON., Mike Clark, a very successful businessman within GTA construction (President Clark Construction Management) – accelerated a new found passion with the unveiling of a multi-dimensional Smokies Garage racing team.  

It was about 5 years ago that Mike first founded and established Smokies Garage, which is a private shop that specializes in the highest end and award winning custom built performance cars, trucks and motorcycles, that you can imagine.

“Drag racing is a sport that I found – just recently,” admitted Mike Clark.  “I came to Grand Bend Motorplex (in 2020) for the first time for a “test and tune” event – just to try out a one off drag bike we had built and also to run my Dodge Hellcat – just for fun.  From the very first pass down the quarter-mile in my Hellcat – I admit was instantly hooked.   It wasn’t just the adrenaline — I liked the aspect of not just competing against the guy or gal in the other lane – but also for testing yourself.  I realized quickly the attraction for wanting to take steps to make yourself better every time as a driver.”

“My Hellcat is in fact a manually shifted car and I chose that for a reason,” Mike clarified. “I really do like the challenge of trying to make every pass consistent and better.  I have a personal goal of perfecting this manual-shifted car!” 

Mike Clarks’s pride and joy manually shifted Dodge Hellcat!

Mike’s absorption into the drag racing community originated from those rather innocent initial outings.

“I’ve always been a team-oriented guy (including in the construction business – for 35 years),” Mike continued.  “So walking around and seeing the whole team atmosphere involved within drag racing – how everyone works together and can contribute to a common goal – is what impressed me too.”

In rather short order he did assemble what is arguably now one of the most professional drag racing operations in all of Canada – for which moving forward into the future holds nothing but prospect.

“Right now we (Smokies Garage Racing) are a large race team — 8 different vehicles,” Mike confirmed.  “It’s a real close knit group that includes members of my immediate family and now also our extended family of racers.  I did want to create something that fits with a philosophy which I am a firm believer of.  My construction company is built on some basic rules —  treating people right and the belief if you are good to them — they will be good to you.  In my business I’m proud of the longevity record for my employees and it (the business) thrives because of exactly that.  I guess I am “OCD” a bit about it (he laughed).”  

Back at the race track, during 2021 – the star attraction team cars within the Smokies Garage Racing Team were two supercharged entries.  Both driven by Scott Wildgust, there was a world class Pro Modified Mustang GT500 and also a Top Sportsman class Chevy Camaro.   At year’s end Scott had visited victory lane multiple times at events attended with both machines (which were tuned by the dynamic combination of Canadian’s Mark Savage and John Wiema).  And in fact – Scott did record the quickest run in Canadian Pro Mod class history just recently – running 3.636 secs – during the Snowbird Nationals event at Bradenton FL.   

The Smokies Garage Mustang GT500 – did run Canada’s quickest yet Pro Mod ET during 2021
This Smokies Garage drag bike creation was 100% hand built

In another significant step last year — Smokies Garage stepped up to the plate for Grand Bend Motorplex – providing that legendary Ontario facility located along the shorelines of Lake Huron with positives from a major presenting sponsorship. 

For 2022 –  plans for further expansion are in the works – one target being to the benefit of the youngest generation for drag racing.  Smokies Garage, who do currently sponsor the Junior Dragster class cars raced by both Avery and Sienna Wildgust (Scott’s daughters) are looking to enhance things at that important level.

Sienna Wildgust drives one of two Smokies Garage Junior Dragster class entries.

“I am a sponsor of KidsSport within Ontario (for Dufferin County),” Mike added.  “Getting underprivileged children involved in sport is very important and I do see some valid opportunity for that in drag racing too.”

“Overall — I don’t know if there is a better group of people than in drag racing,” Mike concluded. “This new involvement is giving me some great therapy — the community atmosphere is good for the mind and the soul!”

Scott Wildgust & Mike Clark

(Editors Note: Mike Clark’s name must now be included to a rather elite list of prominent Canadians — including the likes of Dan Provost in British Columbia & Daniel Mercier and John Scotti in Quebec).  It is successful business people like that — who have not only the necessary understanding for within drag racing but also who choose to share resources — that play such a critical part for assuring the future for our favourite sport within Canada.) 

Post and Photos by Bruce Biegler 

Link to Smokies Garage official : HERE