Harrison Burton isn’t like most kids his age. On the weekends he straps in behind the wheel of a race car and races at speeds upwards of 100 miles-per-hour.
But on Monday morning, Harrison Burton wasn’t a 14-year-old race car driver. He was a regular 14-year-old kid, and he did what most 14-year-old kids do in mid-August in North Carolina. He walked into his first day of high school.
“It was good,” Burton told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Different scenery. It’s the same school but a different building and I’m excited to see what high school is all about.”
Burton has been racing all summer long with the Southern Super Series and the CARS Super Late Model Tour. He’ll continue racing into the autumn months, even with school on the weekdays. So now, with a hectic racing schedule coming up, Burton must find a way to juggle school expectations and racing.
“It’s a big challenge, we have to really stay on top of it with our teacher,” said Burton. “I have another friend who races, he races rally cars, and we kind of do the same thing. We have to email our teachers all the time and talk to our teachers and be sure to communicate with them at all times or else you’ll fall behind.”
Burton jumps right into the juggling act as he caps off his first week of high school with a Southern Super Series race Saturday at Mobile International Speedway, where he picked up his first win in the series back in May and a top-ten less than a month ago.
“I find one of my strong suits as a racer is being really consistent and on my mark and I feel like that’s a track where that is a very important thing,” Burton said. “It’s very important to have a really good car and the guys work really hard to get that to happen for me and then it’s kind of my style of race track. You have to be right where you want to be or else you’re going to be two or three tenths slower, so I feel like that suits my racing style a little bit and I think we have a good idea of what we are doing down there.”
Actually, over the course of the last six Southern Super Series races Burton hasn’t finished outside of the top 10 and owns an average finish of 5.6. With all the success he’s had, sometimes it’s easy to forget Burton is just 14 years old and this is really just his first whole year racing Super Late Models, especially when he’s competing against the likes of Bubba Pollard and Damiel Hemric on a consistent basis. It’s something Burton himself can even have trouble keeping in check, but he tries to keep it all in perspective.
“It’s really hard, because everyone wants to win, and I’m really hungry to win every weekend we go out,” said Burton. “That’s my main goal and it’s really hard for me to step back like that, but I feel like it benefits me to do so. It’s a big boost for my confidence when you run with guys like that.”
Even though school is in session once again, the class room isn’t the only place the young Burton is doing some learning. That happens every weekend at the race track as well.
“It’s all about learning for me at this stage of my career and it’s not like it’s my last race, so if I finish third and I learned a lot that’s an okay day,” he said. “Obviously we are going to try and win as hard as we can, but sometimes you’ve just got to step back like that and say, ‘well hey we didn’t win, but what else good came out of this weekend,’ so that’s what’s really helped me the most.”
And as Burton approaches the three remaining Southern Super Series races on the schedule, he hopes to continue to learn and compete with the top series contenders.
“Racing against those guys every weekend is a big boost for me as a driver,” said Burton. “I get to learn from the best Late Model drivers in the country and I try to feed off them. They are good for a reason, so I’m trying to figure out what makes them so good. Obviously that means we have to compete against the best, which also makes me a better driver, I think, racing with guys of that caliber.
“Guys like Chase Elliott, Bubba Pollard, Daniel Hemric, Augie Grill, they’re all so good and perfect at what they do, so it’s really hard to race against them. It’s a big learning curve to race guys of that caliber, but I think it will help me in the future.”
-Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com