The Hartman and Smith families have been involved in drag racing for over five decades. Virgil Hartman started building cars, from front-engine dragsters to back engine Funny Cars, on the west coast in the 70's. Paul Smith began his driving career in the 70's driving Funny Cars like Sting and the Entertainer across the east coast. As both got involved in the sport so did their children. Virgil's children, Richard and Rhonda, helped their dad service cars, and eventually, both wanted to drive. As soon as Richard was of age, he got in the seat of an Alcohol Funny Car that Virgil built parts for and tuned. When Richard moved to Nitro racing and began driving as a hired driver, Rhonda took her brother's spot in the Alcohol Funny Car. Both children had successful CIFCA careers, an organization Virgil helped found. Rhonda was soon on her way to Nitro as she transitioned to Top Fuel Dragster at the age of 19. Paul's sons, Mike and John, also grew up helping their dad work on his Funny Cars on the NHRA/IHRA circuits and during match races.
As they grew into their twenties they branched out from their father and were looking for a job on the circuit. As the Hartman's relocated to South Carolina, they started participating on the IHRA circuit and needed more hands. The Smith brothers got the job, and Rhonda had a successful tenure in IHRA from 1993 to 1995. During this tenure, John and Rhonda got engaged and married each other in 1995. Virgil took his operation to the NHRA as Rhonda drove until she found out she was pregnant, with Megan in 1998. John tuned for Randy Parks while the team was parked for a year and a half. Rhonda found herself to be a bad spectator so she and her father assembled an operation to go back on the NHRA circuit. While on the circuit, Rhonda grabbed the attention of Fram Air Filters. With the help of Fram, Hartman Motorsports raced the entire 2000 season, and Virgil brought out the backup car that John drove at certain events in 2001. John was involved in an accident with Gary Scelzi in Brainerd in 2001 and was out of action for the rest of the year with a broken wrist and leg.
In 2002, Hartman Motorsports became a full-time two-car team, and John and Rhonda became the first husband and wife to race each other as well as finishing in the top ten of the NHRA points. They would go on to repeat their performance in 2003. Rhonda stepped away in 2005 to have another child, Dylan, and John drove the single Hartman Motorsports entry for their final season. Both John and Rhonda would continue to drive from time to time after 2005 but focused on their family. John got his Funny Car license in 2008 in his father's car and has continued to drive and tune with his father. John has also tuned Dragsters and Funny Cars in Europe and Australia. Rhonda has stayed busy with her kids, real estate, and managing Hartman Enterprises where John also works during the week. Megan, now 24, raced Junior and Super Comp Dragsters and is looking to move up the ranks like her parents. Dylan, 17, has also grown up in the sport and may someday get involved as well. Hartman Smith Racing is the continuation of the Smith and Hartman families as they look to make a come back in the sport of drag racing.
Megan earned her Top Alcohol Dragster License two years ago in the Hartman Smith Racing A/Fuel Dragster and is looking forward to running select NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Events in 2023.
John drives his father's Nitro Funny Car at a handful of NHRA National Events like the Gatornationals each year. Along with driving in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, John tunes for many Funny Car teams within the series as well as in Europe for the European Funny Car Series.