LM Legend Mike Duvall Still Stands on the Gas
Duvall, 54, races his famous Flintstone Flyer weekly at Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, N.C., and Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, S.C., in addition to making occasional starts on the Xtreme, Southern All-Star and Carolina Clash series circuits.
The Cowpens, S.C., resident also operates one of the most prestigious dirt-track driving schools in the country, training drivers and crews from a 24-page book that for many has become the bible of dirt-track late model racing.
Duvall started racing in 1968 and won 17 races in the rookie class before moving up to the sportsman cars and then the powerful late models. In 1979, his career took a turn skyward when he contracted with Dick Murphy to run five races in the nomadic National Dirt Racing Association. When the two teamed up the following year, the Flintstone Flyer was born.
¿He had that on the car when I drove it at the end of the 1979 season,¿ Duvall said. ¿We talked about it and decided to go with his color and my number and put Flintstone Flyer on the door. That¿s how it all started.¿
With a cartoon character on his car, Duvall instantly became a favorite with fans young and old. But it was his attitude toward the fans that put him in their corner for good.
¿When I was a kid, if a driver would take one minute and speak to me, I was tickled to death, but not many of them did that back then,¿ Duvall recalled. ¿I made up my mind that if I got the chance, I¿d talk to anyone and everyone who wanted to talk to me.¿
While Duvall is a lovable Fred Flintstone-like hero off the track, he¿s been a monster on the dirt. He earned the NDRA national championship in 1982 and topped the World 100, late model racing¿s premier event that same year. He has also been inducted into various Halls of Fame, including the prestigious Walk of Fame at The Dirt Track @ Lowe¿s Motor Speedway.
¿It¿s unbelievable what all he¿s done,¿ said North Carolina late model driver Ron Parker, who competes against Duvall weekly. ¿I don¿t understand it. I¿m 35 years old and I know I¿ve got more help than he does, but he still gets out there every week and does 75 to 80 percent of the work on his car. It¿s amazing.¿
Duvall is glad to still be able to climb into his late model and duke it out with the young guns.
¿That¿s all I¿ve done for 37 years,¿ he said. ¿It makes my week when I can out run them boys.¿
But Duvall is also very focused on his driving school, a business that has grown steadily over the past 11 years.
¿I like teaching,¿ said Duvall. ¿That¿s the way I make my living now. People have come from all over the country. I¿m not as good as I always was as a racer, but I¿m probably a better teacher. I like spending time with the young drivers and sharing what I know.¿
David Ifft, a former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chief who has promoted Carolina Speedway the past two seasons, is always glad to see Duvall¿s No. F1 pull into the pits.
¿He¿s tough, competitive and he drives as hard as anyone, but when he climbs out of that car he¿s a gentleman,¿ said Ifft. ¿He¿s helped us turn this place into the kind of track we want it to be.¿
While his driving and teaching schedule keeps him very busy, Duvall still enjoys making special appearances for groups such as the Shriners Hospitals for Children as well as area church groups.
¿Every day is precious to me,¿ Duvall said. ¿I want to do whatever I can to help children and to tell people what the Good Lord has done for me.¿
If purchased prior to May 12, adult reserved seats for both nights of the May 28-29 Jani-King Southern Showdown are just $16 per night and come with a free T-shirt. Tickets for children 12 and under are also economically priced at just $5. Tickets can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.