The sport of dirt track racing has a long storied history of drama, rivalries, and familial passion. Through the years, we as fans have seen racing legacies handed down from generation to generation.
Most recently the likes of Billy Moyer Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kraig Kinser have had overwhelming success in carrying the family torch.
To say dirt track racing has a bright future with regards to our champions’ shoes being filled is an understatement. Heck, we even have little ones like Van Oliver (son of Wade Oliver) and Landon Crawley (son of Tim Crawley) burning up dirt ovals in the Go-Kart ranks.
There are those occasions, however, that our eye catches the success of a “kid” that seems to have come from nowhere.
One such story is that of 17-year-old Mini Sprint racer, Noah Burlison. During the lengthy race season Noah’s familiar blue #18N 600 Mini Sprint can be found nearly every weekend at a track in the Mid-South – most particularly his home track of I-30 Speedway in Little Rock.
Noah’s race team is self-funded.
No, not self-funded by mom and dad, but funded from his own pocket. Noah (a senior at Lakeside High School – Hot Springs, Arkansas) is the 17-year-old, sole proprietor of Red Head Pressure Washing – a commercial pressure washing service. He started the company at the age 13 to support his racing hobby.
Without further ado, let’s get to know this young man, who hails from Malvern, Arkansas.
“Dirt track racing fits my style. I have fun running 80mph an inch away from someone (or a wall) in an open wheeled race car. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other when you’re sliding sideways around a wall or banging a cushion. I love everything about it.”
How did you get started?
“I actually started with a Go-Kart when I was 5, but right after that my dad (David) had knee surgery so I had to stop. The Go-Kart sat idle for about 6 years until my uncle (Charlie Armstrong) and Casey Findley got it running again and we went to Atoka, Tennessee to race. I knew it was what I wanted to do!”
How did Tim McKenzie come into the picture? What has he meant to your racing operation?
“Tim got in contact with me at the end of the 2013 race season. We had some trouble that night, and he helped us change a motor. In 2014 he helped us get changed over to the Factor1 Chassis as well as helped us with learning how to set it up that season. When the 2014 season was over, he (Tim) asked me to drive his car the next year. That’s an offer you don’t turn down. With Tim in our corner, we won the I-30 Speedway track championship in only our second full year in the Mini Sprint.”
Not many 17 year old’s own their own business. How has owning your own business translated to the race team?
“Owning the business and being responsible for the bills for both the business and the race team has given me a totally different outlook on my driving style. I’m an aggressive driver to an extent. I will drive the car as hard as I can but the minute I feel or hear something going wrong I will park the car.
I’m not one to go out and run over anything or anyone because I know how much it takes to build the cars, especially on a tight budget. I don’t do retaliation on the track. That’s doesn’t solve anything and only costs both people hard-earned money. I am very grateful that my business allows me to race. So I treat everyone on the race team with the same gratitude.”
What have been your career highlights to date?
“Well, we have been fortunate to say the least. We have won the track championship at I-30 Speedway three times. We have won seven races, including the USCS Fall Nationals at Riverside Speedway in West Memphis, Arkansas. We’ve also been able run the Tulsa Shootout and the High-Banks Hustle, where we picked up a heat race win. I also won the 2016 KDN Racing Group Driver of the Year award for the Mini-Sprint Division.”
What’s next for Noah?
I would love to make the step up to a Midget program. Hopefully we can find the sponsorship to make that happen. The Midget program is an expensive endeavor, and we will certainly need help with it financially.
We are also looking at getting started in an IMCA Modified for the upcoming season. We will still run the Mini Sprint in the bigger events like the High Banks Hustle, POWRi, Outlaw Nationals, and some USCS stuff.