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Heather's Pick for Umbrella Girl of the Month...

Three Little boxes

Lori Smith Wife and best friend of Rodney Smith.
It’s late, I’m so tired, just sitting here waiting for yet another plane to the East Coast. I have once again tried to do too much in a day. I wonder what am I doing with my life? I guess we all wonder that from time to time. It seems to only hit me late at night when I’m alone. I know by the morning I’ll be glad to be at the next race somewhere across the country far from anything familiar, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if I just left it all behind? What if I just gave up everything I’ve known and made a new start? Could I do it? Maybe pack three little boxes and leave my friends, family, the only home I’ve ever known behind and start over. What would I put in those three little boxes? That’s exactly what Lori Smith, wife and best friend to championship racer Rodney Smith did.

On the surface Lori Smith’s life looked just perfect. Who wouldn’t want to be a popular high school cheerleader, achieve MVP two years in a row on the softball team, be ranked 10th in the nation for diving, and have a small business, “Looks by Lori”? But, for Lori something was missing. She had accomplished much, but she had no one to share her life. Lori began to wonder what she was doing with her life. One day she decided it was time to make a change and start over. Packing only three little boxes, closing the doors to her salon, waving goodbye for now to her friends and family, Lori headed for the Golden State of California. Her older sister, Denise, was currently living in Northern California so that’s where Lori headed ready to start over.

Quickly landing a job at a prestigious spa and gym, Lori had the beginnings of a new life. She now counted members of the Oakland A’s , 49ers, and top executives in the Silicone Valley among her new clients and friends. Little did she know that an old friend from her hometown was about to pay a visit. Hank, a mechanic from NY, and his professional motorcycle-racing friend, Steve, flew out to California in the winter of ’95 to train for the up coming season with his teammate Rodney Smith. Lori had been in California for only a few months when Hank and his two friends walked through the salon doors for a haircut. When Rodney sat in her chair, Lori remembers asking him “so what do you do for a living?” Rodney replied “I race motorcycles.” Lori then asked “But what do you do for a job?” He answered again but a little slower this time, “I…race…motorcycles…”, And, so began the friendship that would turn into the love of her life.

Dating a professional athlete is a tough experience for any one. Lori knew that at this time in Rodney’s career she would not be #1 in his life. Lori made a deal with herself to completely accept that she would take a back seat to his career for many years. Rodney’s racing takes him out of state about 15 or more weekends a year. He also has to make countless seven-hour trips south to Suzuki for testing. Lori stayed home for most of these weekends in the beginning. She wanted to keep her life, too. She had a great clientele at the spa and gym and many new friends. Things started to become more serious in their relationship and being apart so much was difficult. They both wanted to make some changes. The sacrifices came on both sides. Lori gave up the upper scale spa salon and cut down her client list to move 1-½ hours away with Rodney. Rodney in turn moved his workshop to one side of the garage and gave Lori the other half to set up a small hair salon so that she could continue with a smaller list of clients. Lori’s relationships with her clients proved to be strong. These clients traveled the 1-½ hours to sit in her garage and have their hair done. I was one of them. Lori would work 12-hour days at times to make up for her lost volume. She had people in and out of the house daily. Rodney never complained, actually he would often join them in the garage and take part in the girl talk. I have to admit, he’s pretty good at hanging with the girls without looking bored. It seems to me he likes to see Lori doing what she does so well. It would only be 4 ½ years before they would marry on July 30th, 1999.

Now with more time on her hands, Lori started traveling with Rodney. She soon became close with all of his sponsors and teammates. Her involvement with the team quickly turned into her becoming an important part of the pit crew. She isn’t just the beautiful girl holding the umbrella; she’s also makes important decision in the pits during the race. She has earned the respect of the other mechanics and is considered equally as valuable. Lori says this is one of the keys to holding the relationship together. Being a part of each other’s busy lives made them closer than ever. Rodney would attend her fitness classes, and she’d be a part of his crew. It seems that Lori has become a personal trainer to Rodney. She keeps up on the education of health and fitness to make sure her husband is at his best for his job. Most of Rodney’s friends are now also good clients of Lori’s. The house is always full of good friends and family. There is never a dull moment or any chance of boredom. Lori has also become involved in dual sport rides with Rodney. You’ll often see her on the back of his DR going faster than any good A rider could ever go (including myself). You can find them camping at their favorite OHV riding areas every chance they get. You will hardly see one without the other.

One thing Lori has mastered is to let the little things go and not to distract Rodney during a race weekend with the minor issues. This became easy for her when she realized most things weren’t that important after all. They both have so much confidence in each other. There is no jealousy or envy in their marriage. They have managed to let go of all their previous baggage and start fresh with each other. When you meet these two in person, you’ll quickly realize that it is a perfect match of “true teammates.”

I’m now sitting across the country from where I started this story, and I realize that I never asked Lori what was in those three little boxes. I was just picking up the phone to ask her when I decided it really didn’t matter. Whatever was in those boxes had no influence on how her life has turned out so far. I wonder what I would put in those boxes if I decided to make such a bold move. But I now realize that what I have today isn’t necessarily permanent and that’s OK with me. Lori doesn’t realize that she has always been an inspiration to me. After getting to know her through this story, I now know why I like being around her so much. I know why she has so many friends. I know why she is so close to her three sisters and her mom and dad. I know why Rodney’s family has accepted her so completely, and I know why she has found her soul mate... she’s honest with herself and isn’t afraid of what’s next in life, what about you?

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