POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, JULY 18 — After more than 20 successful seasons of overseeing the Dyson Racing team, Patrick Smith has stepped down from his role as Crew Chief and Team Manager and is happily easing into retirement two weeks before his 60th birthday.
Randall Kelsey, who has been working with the team since 1994, has assumed the role of Crew Chief and Team Manager. Peter Weston, who has been working full-time with the team since January, remains the Head Engineer. Chris Dyson continues in the capacity of Sporting Director.
The management transition has been in progress for more than a year, in keeping with Smith`s stated wishes that he would not do a race after age 60. The team has been gradually moving toward its current structure, with Kelsey and Weston overseeing all at-track activities since April while Smith has remained at the team`s headquarters in New York.
Team principal Rob Dyson viewed the move as a positive one. “Pat took so much pride in his work and did such a great job for us. We had a discussion a couple of years ago and he outlined his wishes to retire in July of this year. We have had time to establish the new organizational structure, and I firmly believe that Chris and the guys will do a great job.”
“Pat and I will always be close, we have shared experiences together that neither of us could have imagined when we started,” Dyson added. “He is a remarkable man– undoubtably complex, but fundamentally decent, honest and loyal. It has been a great run.”
“This transition has been a fairly smooth process which has been in the works for quite some time,” Chris Dyson said. “Pat and my father built the foundation of this organization, and we intend to maintain their attention to detail and ensure that results remain our number-one priority. These are big shoes to fill, but Pat taught us well. We are all very excited and optimistic about the future.”
Smith began working with Rob Dyson in 1976, when Dyson was campaigning a Datsun 510 in SCCA National competition. Smith helped Dyson to the 1981 SCCA National Championship. In 1983, the team moved into professional competition with a Firebird GTO machine.
Two years later, Dyson purchased a Porsche 962 and the team began competing in the IMSA GTP division, shocking the establishment with victory in their very first race, at Lime Rock. It was in prototypes that the team made its name. Smith guided the team to three Porsche Cups and nine victories in four seasons of GTP racing.
The team made a brief foray into CART in 1989 and afterwards Smith decided to take a sabbattical from motor racing. He returned full-time to the team in mid-1994 and immediately the form of the team`s Spice-Ferrari World Sports Car improved, finishing on the podium twice in the final five races.
Smith`s engineering and strategic prowess were best showcased during the team`s eight-year effort with the Riley and Scott Mk. III-Ford, which began in 1995. With the R&S, the team scored an category-leading 36 overall victories, including two overall wins at the 24 Hours of Daytona and one class victory. Dyson Racing won five team championships, and Dyson pilots tallied seven championships between them.
Dyson`s class victory at this year`s 12 Hours of Sebring meant that Smith holds the honor of leading the team to victory at every track the team visited more than once under his command.
Dyson Racing`s next American Le Mans Series event is the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma, on July 27-29.