Standing at just 62 inches from head to toe, Bryson Harper isn’t much taller than the crate Late Model he slings around dirt tracks on the weekends. 


But despite his size (and age), Harper doesn’t scare easy.  Racing against drivers double his age is a typical Saturday night for the 12-year-old who straps in for a feature with the confidence of a veteran.


“I hardly ever get intimidated,” Harper said.  “Sometimes I get a little nervous that they’re going to wreck in front and pile-up the field in tight corners, like what Lancaster has, but that’s it.”


As young as he is, Harper has been racing for half of his life.  Harper’s racing career began with go-karting in the Tri-State Pro Series at age six before eventually moving up to a dirt car.  


“One night my brother, he raced go-karts and he talked me into racing his,” Steve, Harper’s dad said. “I went back the next week and took Bryson with me, and he said wanted to do it, so we bought a go-kart.  That’s where it started.”


Harper won several races in go-karts before transitioning into a Young Gun, a dirt car class in North Carolina intended for kids up to the age of 17-years-old. 


The change from go-karts to a full-fledged racecar came after a race where someone that his son was competing against was seriously injured.


“When Bryson turned seven, we were at a big go-kart race and we saw a guy who was racing with us get hurt really bad,” Steve said.  “So we decided to put him in Young Guns racing a Ford Mustang until he was ten before transitioning him into 604 crate car.”


Though the move to a Late Model last fall might seem counterintuitive in terms of safety, Harper’s dad feels his son is better protected and more than capable of wheeling it.


“I’m never really worried about him in a racecar,” Steve said.  “It has protection around you, compared to open go-karts going 70 mph, and he has as good car control as anybody he drives with.”


Harper’s car control left him only six spots short of a win at Lancaster Super Speedway (SC) last Saturday, his best career finish in the Late Model being second place at 311 Speedway (NC). 


For the most part, Harper is running his first full season of Late Model racing around North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Outlaw Series, but the young gun has bigger dreams for the future.  


“I’m trying to get to where I can win a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship,” Harper said.

Not coincidentally, when asked who his favorite racecar driver is, Harper didn’t skip a beat naming off the Late Model legend who recently claimed his 600thcareer win.


“Scott Bloomquist,” Harper said.  “He’s quick almost everywhere he goes and he wins a good bit.”


-Melissa Strahley, Gulf Coast Editor

-Photo Credit: Melissa Strahley/

12-Year-Old Slinging Dirt with North Carolina’s Dirt Late Model Veterans