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Women on Wheels: Kelly Smith

Women on Wheels: Kelly Smith


“I'd Rather Have Chrome”

A true lady hot-rodder, and an avid Harley enthusiast, Kelly Smith began her story by saying, “I can’t remember a day I wasn’t into chrome!”

When Kelly was 16 years old her mom, Joyce DeJoy, purchased a 1934 Chevy 5 window with old school flames. One day, on their way to the Street Rod Nationals, Kelly and her mom broke down alongside the highway. Two guys stopped and helped them. Joyce and Kelly ran into the same two guys again at the Nationals and they went out for ice cream; fast forward, Joyce and Jack  DeJoy have now been married for 32 years.

Introduced to the car culture a very young age Kelly’s  parents were judges as part of ISCA (International Car Show Association) and for many years Kelly’s job was to shine-up chrome for them. As she got older Kelly worked all over the country with her parents at the ICSA shows; and, her job expanded from just polishing chrome to helping with the celebrity appearances  such as Scott Baio, Adam West, and others who would do picture signing at the shows. Kelly met a lot of wonderful people and loved the car culture. She and her sons still help Jack and Joyce with the Car shows. Kelly said it is a special family time to be able to do it together.

Growing up Kelly’s first car was a ‘69 Camaro Indy pace car, and when she was 18 she sold that car for a brand new Harley. Though now she admits she should have kept both.

Kelly had been driving the ’34 Chevy since she was 16 and finally convinced her mom to sell her the car shortly after Kelly was divorced. About 9 years ago they had a floor up restoration done. “We put in a tune port, 350 Turbo automatic, mustang front end suspension, disc brakes, corvette rear end suspension, posi-track, there are chrome bumpers, headers, transmission, drive shaft, exhaust, rear-end, the whole underside of the hood is chromed” . Add to that a new custom leather interior, power steering, power seats, power windows, power disc brakes, air conditioning, heat, and a digital dash and you have quite a street rod. Kelly mentioned that “my steering wheel and wheels are Colorado Customs , the door handles are Mercedes, and the color is PPG Sapphire Purple”.   Kelly told her dad that the final color actually blended the car into the background too much and she wanted to add flames. Jack thought she was a little crazy. Kelly went ahead with her idea on the flame scheme and it brought the car alive. Kelly’s plans are to have her two sons eventually own the car.

When it came to a choice of how to spend her money, for example on clothes or cosmetics, she would tell her friends, “I rather have chrome” and that includes Kelly’s  ’01 Heritage Harley Davidson Softail. Kelly said her Harley has a lot of chrome (why are we not surprised J) and has been bored out. Kelly’s riding partner, in both her hotrod and on her motorcycle, is her little dog, Dozer. He loves riding with her.

How many women do you know that have a “gas pump in the kitchen”, neon all over their home, and a garage many men would envy”?  Kelly does. She spends a lot of time in her “working garage” and many of her friends come over and borrow her tools.

Kelly is a single mom with two grown sons, and a Vice President for a financial institution. She is on the Board of Directors for Veit Automotive Museums, and also does a lot of charity work. One of her favorites is a charity ride on her Harley with Special Olympics, and the Blessing of The Bikes. A member of HOGS and MSRA , Kelly  volunteers whenever she is available. Kelly’s mother, Joyce, was the originator of the MSRA Scholarship Foundation and Kelly spent a lot of time over the years helping Joyce with the Foundation.

Kelly closed our interview sharing that “My ’34 Chevy is very personal to me as it is what brought my mom and dad together. My mom has set a tough road for me to follow as she was a lady hot-rodder! My real father had passed away, and Jack could not be a better father. He teaches me, helps me, and as a result I am not afraid to break down in my car because I can fix it.”   As for her ’01 Harley Softail – not so much, Donnie Smith takes care of her Harley. Kelly said, “I don’t look so good in gravel and sometimes you have to leave things to the professionals.”