Mooresville, NC — Maryland-native, Michael Hardin, hasn’t always exactly dreamed of being behind the wheel of stock car, but thanks to his family tradition, it was almost inevitable.
Hardin’s grandfather was the patriarch to the family tradition of stock car racing. He raced across the northeast on asphalt tracks, such as Old Dominion Speedway, in the Sportsman Division. Hardin even put his driving ability to the test on a handful of dirt tracks, like the famed Belleville Speedway. When it was time, Hardin’s grandfather then passed the family tradition to his son, Jim Hardin.
Jim Hardin, Michael’s dad, took the wheel of the family-operated team around 1979. He was in weekly competition in the Grand Stock division at Old Dominion Speedway. After several years, the Old Dominion Speedway veteran finally claimed his first win, as well as the Redman Fleet Service Grand Stock track championship in 2001.
Shortly after Hardin’s track championship, it was time to pass on the family tradition once again. Next in line? Michael Hardin.
Hardin started his racing career at the age of 13.
“Dad came to pick me up from soccer practice one day and had a go kart in the back of the truck. What the heck is that?” he said. “His answer- we are going racing this weekend and that was when it all began.”
Hardin raced go karts for a couple of years before following in his father’s footsteps and moving up to the Grand Stock division.
“We actually almost won the Grand Stock track title at Old Dominion my rookie year,” he said. “I think that’s when my dad realize that we were going to be spending a lot of time and effort in my racing career.”
In 2006, Hardin continued to pursue racing and moved up to late models. He started the season running a limited schedule at Old Dominion Speedway, just as his grandfather and father did before him. The following year, Hardin set out to run a full schedule at Old Dominion Speedway and to contend for the track championship, and he did exactly that.
Ironically, the same year Hardin won the track championship, he began a full-time job at a mechanical contractor company. Therefore, the balance between work and racing came into play.
Despite the workload from his full-time job, Hardin and his family still made it to the race track as much as possible. Hardin has since recorded a multitude of wins, top-5s, and top-10s in his career.
Fast forward to 2017. Ten years later, you can still catch the Hardin Racing Team at local tracks across the northeast. Hardin is still behind the wheel of the family-operated team, as he is waiting for the next in line to pass on the family racing tradition.
However, out of all the tracks Hardin has traveled to, Dominion Raceway is at the top of the charts.
“It’s fast and as of right now it’s probably my favorite because you have that reckless feeling out on the track,” he said. “You can drive that car as hard as you want every single lap and it’ll stick, it’s just a matter of getting your set-up right.”
“We’ve been all over the place waiting for a home track to show up,” he said. “Dominion opened up last year and it’s not that far from home, so we were pretty happy about that. We decided that was the track we were going to call home.”
As the CARS Tour and several competitors travel to Dominion Raceway this weekend, it’s only fitting that we present Michael Hardin with the Staubli Hometown Hero Award. A $150 cash bonus for being the highest in track points to compete in the CARS Tour event at his home track of Dominion Raceway.
“There’s a lot of people to thank- Bob Unczur is the car owner and I really couldn’t do this without him. When I destroyed my primary car a few years ago, Bob (Unczur) offered a backup car and we’ve been together ever since. He likes my style of racing and we bring it home in one piece every week. I really appreciate all he’s done. My father, Jim, who has put so much into my racing. We’re having so much fun and it’s such a family team building experience for us.”
Hardin would also like to thank his wife, kids, and family, as well as Billy Banks Engines and Creech Chassis for building top-notch equipment.
Catch Dominion Raceway regular Michael Hardin do battle against all the CARS Late Model Stock Tour stars, as well as the CARS Tour Super Late Models this Saturday March 25th at Dominion Raceway in Thornburg, Virginia. Gates open at 1:30 and racing starts at 3PM. Tickets and information available at www.carsracingtour.com.
-CARS Tour Press Release. Photo credit: In the Pits Media