February 25, 1944 - April 27, 2023
Douglas Craig Smokstad, 79, of Richfield, died peacefully at home April 27, 2023 while surrounded by family after a courageous two-year battle with lung cancer.
Doug was born February 25, 1944 in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to Paul and Norma (Boehnke) Smokstad. In 1953, the family settled in Richfield where Doug attended Central Elementary through 6th grade. With the junior high school not yet built, Doug attended Richfield High School starting in 7th grade. Early in his freshman year, he laid eyes on a new sophomore girl with a bouncy blonde ponytail who had just moved to Richfield from Spring Grove, Minnesota. That new girl was Sandy Christensen, and for Doug, it was literally love at first sight. He told his friends, “I’m going to marry that girl”, which is exactly what happened on March 14, 1964. They had two sons (Ted and Craig) and built a life and family together in Richfield that lasted over 59 years.
Doug’s pre-teen summers were spent farming with his uncle, Ray Boehnke; aunt, Ruby and their five girls in Garner, IA. He boarded a train for Mason City the day school let out, and returned home the day before school started back up in the fall. Farm life in Garner, while under the wing of his Uncle Ray and with his cousins, produced some of Doug’s most fond memories.
Doug graduated from Richfield High School in 1962 then attended Dunwoody Institute. His first job as a certified auto mechanic was at Grossman Chevrolet in Minneapolis. He then spent time at Harold Chevrolet in Bloomington and Walser Buick in Richfield. In 1981, Doug put his pioneering, self-made spirit to the test by starting Corporate Auto Maintenance. From his garage at home, he provided a first-of-its-kind pickup and delivery service for basic automotive needs. He quickly outgrew the home garage and moved to a shop in front of Eddie Webster’s in Bloomington, where his son, Craig, joined him and quickly proved to be as talented with a wrench as his dad.
Doug’s passion for cars and stock car racing spanned his entire life. From the late 1960s through the early 2000’s, he was crew chief for top racers Dan Prziborowski, Don James, Bruce Sparrman, Mike Eddy and his son, Ted. His reputation as an innovator and chassis specialist was second to none as he earned numerous Crew Chief of the Year and Crew Chief of the Race accolades. The best of times came when the family went racing together as Smokstad Motorsports: Doug as owner, Craig as crew chief, Ted as driver and Sandy holding everything together. Two top accomplishments were winning the 1991 National Short Track Championship in Rockford, IL and finishing second at the 1996 Minnesota State Fair 300. Doug’s racing legacy lives on today through his son, Craig, who is one of NASCAR’s most
accomplished Car Chiefs and has been part of several championship-winning teams over the past 23 years.
Doug was also a very skilled and passionate walleye fisherman. He never missed opening weekend with his boys and treasured opportunities to take friends and family on the water. He got the most joy from helping and watching others reel in “the big one”. In retirement, he enjoyed being the resort handyman at Hiawatha Beach Resort on Leech Lake, the same place he had been taking family since the 1970s. He maintained the resort’s fleet of boats and work vehicles, took guests on guided fishing excursions and always made sure everyone had enough walleye for the weekly fish fry. One could say Doug was the resort’s Crew Chief that kept everybody working together and everything working smoothly. He made countless lifelong friendships among the resort’s permanent summer residents, many of which remained in contact right up to his passing.
Lastly, Doug was a Christian man that took care of and protected his family. He was the longest-standing member of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church dating back to 1954. He never missed the boys’ hockey, baseball or football games, and happily embraced 5am hockey practices. His beliefs and convictions were crystal clear. When something didn’t add up, his unwillingness to “go along to get along” never wavered, even if it wasn’t the popular position to take. To his family and friends, his loyalty was unending. While it wasn’t easy to penetrate Doug’s inner circle, once there, you were a cherished member of his family for life.
Doug is preceded in death by his father, mother and two brothers, Teddy and Tom. He is survived by his wife, Sandy; sons, Ted (Kate Saba) of Chaska, MN and Craig (Lisa and granddaughter, RaElla) of Kannapolis, NC; numerous cousins and countless friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church or Hospice of the Midwest.
Monday, May 8, 2023
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church
6544 16th Ave.
Richfield, MN 55423
Monday, May 8, 2023
Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church
66th and 16th Ave.
Richfield, MN 55423
Our prayers are with Sandy and the family. Blessings, Pastor Mark and Susan (Sue) Moss
Doug gave my son Jim [JB] a job and let him “do his thing” in his shop. A lifelong friendship formed. We spoke of that often when we would meet while out and about. When I worked at Home Depot Doug would stop in and always find me. Loved his big bear hugs!! We would catch up on life, talk about kids and eventually grandkids and try to “one up” each other on who had the better. Doug was never too busy for a hello and a conversation. Saturday nights at Elko Speedway were the bomb!! It was great to watch him and friends on the track then talk about the race of the evening, and comment on the magic yet to happen the following week. His eyes would light up when he talked about his boys and how he helped them go “round in circles”!! I remember him as warm and welcoming, though I never wanted to get on his fighting side as he towered over me!! Doug was always a welcome face when we raced out of town. I will miss him and the old racing photos on Facebook. Thanks for sharing him with us!! I am sad for your loss and happy he is now at peace!!
I’m so sorry for your loss of such a great man. May God wrap his arms around you all at this difficult time. Sending prayers and love to comfort you all.
My sincerest condolences for your families loss. I knew Doug for 45 years and held him in the high place. I fished, worked with, and spoke with him on a regular basis. My thoughts and prayers He will be missed. Shevy.
I am so very sorry for your loss. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. It was such a good time each and every week at Elko Speedway with all of you. Take care.
I was so lucky to be his friend. I will miss his “waves”. They meant so much to me when I needed them.