[size=12pt]It's not your mom's mini-van[/size]
With rust and wood paneling concealing the menacing turbo-power hiding under the hood, no one would expect that old Dodge Caravan to rule the drag strip
By Ted Gregory | Tribune staff reporter
July 28, 2007
Sporting bib overalls, gnarly beard and grimy baseball cap, Paul Smith looks nothing like a champion of the thoroughly domesticated.
But he becomes their hero every time he works his stout frame behind the steering wheel of his dragster: a 1989 mini-van with rust bubbles on the fender, faux wood grain on the sides, 185,000 miles on the odometer and a turbocharged engine that rockets the van down the track at 106 m.p.h.
"A lot of dads walk up to me after a race," said Smith, 43, of Seneca in north central Illinois. "They're just shaking their heads. They can't believe it. They shake my hand and say 'thanks.'"
A husband and father of three with a trailer sales business, Smith drag-races mini-vans.