'Smokin' Hank Berry Will Compete At Williston Basin Speedway July 11

Sidney resident and Richland County native 'Smokin' Hank Berry competed at the Williston Basin Speedway Friday, June 23 and will be back Tuesday July 11 with the Dakota Mod Tour, just two of the 35 races he'll compete in this year.

Berry found his love for racing as a kid watching his uncle on the race track in Great Falls. He started drag racing in high school at the dragstrip that was in Glendive at the time. This is where he first raced a 900 Kawasaki street bike and later a few big block Chevy Chevelles and Camaros. When that closed, he headed to Williston where he would eventually buy his first late model in 1980, and so it began.

Berry has won several track championships at the Williston Basin Speedway over the years and served as a board member for a while. Additionally, he has won multiple championships in Minot, won more tours than anyone, and in 2021 he was inducted into the Nodak Hall of Fame, Minot, ND.

"It is definitely fun to win, but I enjoy looking for speed in a car. I enjoy tinkering with the car, the fans, and the comradery with the other racers," Berry commented. "I've met some great people over the years."

Perhaps it was his love for speeding down the rack that earned him the nickname 'Smokin' Hank Berry.

"Ralph Lockwood was an announcer in Williston who tagged me with that name," Berry fondly remembers. "I don't know if it was because I was smoking cigarettes, because my car was smoking, or if it was because I was smoking the competition, but I like to think it was because I was smoking the competition."

He can even contribute meeting his wife to his love for racing as she was working for a news station in Minot during one race where he flipped his car.

"She came over to interview me and the rest is history," he laughed. "But, it is a tough sport to balance with family. It's a huge investment of time and I've been very fortunate because my wife has been great."

While late-models are his preferred car, he races his IMCA modified at the Williston Basin Speedway, where racers can reach speeds up to 70 mph on the straightaway.

Berry does admit that racing has changed over the years, explaining, "When I started racing, everyone worked on their own cars. Everyone tried to build better parts to make faster cars, but now with technology, anyone can buy a fast car."

While the times might have changed, the thrill of watching racers give it their all with every race remains the same and continues to draw fans. Be sure to head over to the Williston Basin Speedway, 519 53rd St. E., Williston, Tuesday July 11 to see the grit that earned 'Smokin' Hank Berry his nickname.


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