Flying Change’ celebrates fatherhood, family, inspiration and racing
Patrick Smithwick’s “Flying Change: A Year of Racing and Family and Steeplechasing,” is an inspirational journey allowing the reader to experience the intimate details of the author’s life as he faces the challenges associated with fatherhood, family, preparing for an athletic endeavor after being away for more than three decades, his love of the horse and how it intertwines with a world that he has known since his earliest memories.
Smithwick will discuss “Flying Change” and have a book signing at the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The book showcases Smithwick’s talent as a master practitioner in multiple areas as he provides the reader with a level of excitement, drama, tension and warmth to create a palpable experience one will be able to relate to on a myriad of levels.
The book came about as a result of the author’s previous tome, providing Smithwick with ample material for “Flying Change.”
“When I was writing ‘Racing My Father,’ I wrote in different sections,” said Smithwick, in a phone interview. “I kept a lot of notes, wrote journals and played around using that material. I put the material in a great book with ‘Racing My Father,’ all as one book.”
The son of Hall of Fame jockey A.P. “Paddy” Smithwick, and nephew of Hall of Fame trainer Daniel Michael “Mikey” Smithwick, the author – through his first-hand experience and knowledge – generates a level of excitement endemic to the sport of Thoroughbred racing, allowing the reader along for a vicarious ride, enabling them to understand the sport through what is a comprehensive standard of excellence.
“Flying Change” also gives the reader an in-depth look at the author’s relationship with his three children, while balancing his family life, career and love of horses and the racetrack. Smithwick had written all kinds of pieces about his children growing up, and had wanted to put something together with the concept of fatherhood being a theme in the book.
“Racing My Father” provided Smithwick the chance to write about his father and his experiences after his father’s passing. “Flying Change” gave the author the opportunity to explore the relationship with his children and the inevitable of living life without them once they’ve left home.
“I wrote a lot of it, eight years after it actually happened,” said Smithwick. “So, there was some distance.”
However, it’s the book’s look at Smithwick’s returning to ride in the Grand National in 1999, in his late mid-40s, with his previous mount in the race coming 31 years earlier. “Flying Change” allows the reader to see an individual push himself to the limit, not only as a father, husband and friend, but also as an athlete determined by an intrepid spirit to accomplish his goals.
“It’s interesting in America, about how an individual about to be 50 years old goes along and cruises through,” said Smithwick. “I hope it inspires people to get off the couch, and to try and fulfill their dreams.”
The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum is located at 135 Dupree Place.