|FEATURE LINE-UP POLE SITTER: Danny Lorton|
YEARS RACED IN
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EVEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT HE REMAINS A HUMBLE MAN
Racing has always been in our family. From Motocross Racing as a teenager, to Drag Racing, Mud Truck Racing, Demolition Derby Racing, to Circle Track racing. “I feel I have found my home in circle track racing.” (Lorton Racing used with permission.)
Danny Lorton the pilot of the #27 dirt late model from Moberly MO, has defiantly found a home in circle track racing, he has been previewed on local TV news channels, wrote about in newspapers, traveled to numerous tracks, and has attended several special events and big money shows over his past 14 years of circle track competition.
It was Danny’s brother who suggested he try circle track racing. “My younger brother was the first to move to circle track racing.” “He then talked me into it,” shared Danny. So in 1993 Danny, his younger brother, and a buddy all built cars to compete in the Bomber Class. The Bomber car that Danny ran in the 90’s is comparable to the modern day Hobby Stock class that you see in competition on today’s dirt tracks. It didn’t take long before Lorton was looking for a little more power under the hood. In 1996 Danny starting racing a B-Modified, and a year later he moved up to what is known as an open wheeled or A-modified car.
Danny ran a Friday-Sunday schedule at three different tracks his modified rookie year. “My father-in-law had it bad as a fan of dirt racing,” “we would hit the road early on Friday and race through Sunday,” chuckled Danny. At this time Lorton’s secular job had a Monday through Thursday schedule so it allowed Danny a full weekend of racing opportunities. They hit the road running and capitalized on their efforts. Lorton finish his modified rookie season with 1 top 5, 2 top 10’s, and a 8th place finish in the point standings at Lee County Speedway, Donnellson IA. 10th in the point standings at Moberly Speedway, (which has since been renamed to 24 Raceway) Moberly MO, and earned Rookie of the Year Honor at Louisa County Speedway, Columbus Junction IA.
In 1999, after three years of competing in the modified division, Danny was able to hire a local man named Tony Rattliff to build him a car. “It was my first time to have a new car,” we always ran old used cars before shared Danny. When the 2001 racing season rolled around Lorton started winning his heats and added some feature wins to his resume. “We went from being a top 10 finisher to a top 5 contender,” stated Lorton.
Lorton’s scariest racing moment also took place during his 2001 season, while racing in the state of Iowa. Most of the memories from that experience come from what others have told him. “I was passing for 2nd when in turn 3 my competitor drove to the outside.” “I decided to shoot to the bottom to make the pass, and the next thing I knew someone was at my drivers side door saying “Danny are you alright!” “To me it wasn’t as scary as it seemed to be for everyone else,” chuckled Danny. Later someone had to explain to Lorton his scariest racing moment!
At the same time Danny shot to the bottom to make the pass his competitor got loose and the two made contact. Danny’s rear wheel hopped up onto the other car and the force catapulted Lorton’s car into the air. His car rolled end over end as the rest of the field unable to react fast enough kept coming and some of their cars clipped Lorton while he was taking his airborne ride. Amazingly Danny’s car came to a stop on all fours and he was okay. Danny’s nickname The Missouri Missile was also born that memorable night. “I guess the track announcer said that when my car catapulted into the air it resembled a missile being shot off.”
They say there is a silver lining in every gray cloud, for Lorton his silver lining could be that he is unable to remember his “big wreck.” After a ride like that replaying in a drivers mind, one couldn’t blame a driver if he chose to retire.
For Lorton there was no memory and no retirement just some work to do.
“I went back to the shop on Saturday after Friday nights wreck and immediately began repairing the car for racing the following week.” The following Friday night he loaded up his repaired car and headed for Bloomfield Speedway, Bloomfield IA. One week to the date from when he soared through the air, Danny experienced his most memorable moment. He soared into victory lane with his very first feature win.
Lorton has raced at many tracks in his home state as well as three of the bordering states. He has raced at 7 tracks in MO, 8 tracks in IA, 1 in IL, and 2 in AR, and those are the ones he recalls. “I like to travel to different tracks,” replied Danny. When I asked him which track was his favorite to race at, it was tuff for him to pin down a favorite track. “I race the most at Calloway Raceway, Fulton MO.” “It is also fun to run at Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville IA, “this track mainly runs Sprint Car’s, and you don’t realize how fast the track is until you run on it,” explained Danny.
From 2002 to 2005 he Lorton ran some special events and “big money” shows. He’s competed at Batesville Speedway, Batesville AR, in a couple of World Modified Championships as well as the Alltel 100 in 2004. He has traveled to North Central Arkansas Speedway, Flippin AR for the Coco Cola 50, and attended the Stanfill Memorial Race at West Plains MO in 2003. Lorton finished his last four years driving a modified with numerous top 5 and top 10 finishes and maintained a top 5 in season points each year.
In 2006 Danny made a change and moved up to the late model class. Making the switch from a modified car to a late model has been relatively easy for Lorton. “I have felt comfortable in the late model ever since the first time I drove it.” The late model fits my driving style a little more than the modified did,” stated Danny.
The biggest change for Lorton is the time required for the upkeep and preparation of running a late model. “The late model car is lighter than a modified.” So after a weekend of racing it is necessary to jack it up to check the car over because everything seems to work its way loose.” Danny spends 2-3 hours, 7 days a week, in the shop. “That’s part of it, if you want to be a top contender, you just gotta do it,” replied Danny. It’s a good thing that Lorton only requires 3 to 4 hours a sleep each night. He did say that sometimes a lack of sleep catches up with him on Sunday. “If there isn’t much happening during the NASCAR race, I sometimes get a nap in,” stated Lorton.
2006 also brought with it local television and newspaper coverage when Danny was one of twenty drivers chosen from thousands as a Wild Card to participate in a program called Racin For A Livin. (For more information on this program see the enclosed link in Danny’s Bio section.) To add to the excitement of the season, Danny had 4 Feature wins and numerous top 5 and top 10 finishes, placed 5th in the point standings at Callaway Raceway, Fulton MO, and earned the Track Championship honors at 24 Raceway, Moberly MO.
When I asked Lorton what goes through his mind before he starts a race he paused for a minute and then said strategy! Danny went on to say, “my strategy depends on my starting position for the race.” “If I start in the front, I try to make a plan that will keep me there.” If I start further back in the field, then I develop a strategy that will get me to the front.”
Danny’s biggest fan is his grandson and crew chief Trent Everhardt. “My grandson goes to every race he can.” “He helps with the up keep of the car at the track,” and has even started working in the shop,” so we have given him the title of crew chief,” shared Danny. Lorton’s wife also supports his racing and travels with the team when she can. Danny credit’s his father as the person who has inspired his racing career. “My father raced when I was a kid,” “racing has always been in the family, which has contributed to my love for the sport,” stated Lorton.
For his 2007 season, Danny will be running the ULMA sanction, which he co-founded in the latter part of 2006. Following the ULMA schedule will take Lorton to a couple of tracks, even with his past travels, he has never competed at before; Central Missouri Speedway, Warrensburg MO, and Valley Speedway Grain Valley MO. Lorton is excited to have some new tracks to add to his resume as he competes for the 2007 ULMA championship.
When I asked Danny what he liked most about being a race car driver, he stated “I am a racer at heart,” I love the thrill, speed, and adrenaline rush that comes with the competition.” “I would love to be able to race full-time.” “If the opportunity ever rose, I would jump in and drive.” In the closing of our conversation Danny wanted to make sure that I told his fans thanks for all their support. I enjoyed Danny’s humble demeanor when talking about himself and his accomplishments. I think it is safe to say that Lorton has found his home in circle track racing, has settled in, and will be competing for years to come.