A Scoop's Insider Profile

Stephen J. Hartzell

April, 2003
David Harrison

David Harrison With His New Ludwig Motorsports Ride
Photo By Steve Hartzell

He has never won a track championship, and he has a handful of feature wins to his credit. Still, David Harrison is clearly a favorite of the fans at Fremont Speedway and Attica Raceway Park. Along with his aggressive driving style, much of the reason for this can be attributed to the genuine personality of the man himself.

David Harrison was born in Fremont on October 3, 1963, the son of Darl & Joyce Harrison. He had lived his entire life in Bettsville until a recent move to Fremont. With his wife Terri he is the father of 4 children, Josh, Jordon, Kylie and Mikena.

Being the son of the great Darl Harrison, his first memories at the race track were of watching his father run in the USAC series in about 1970. "When he was driving with Century Die, I remember we started going to the races about then. From then on, I was pretty much a race car addict. There was only one racing hero in my mind, and that was my dad. To be honest, I didn't even watch anybody else back then. There was only one guy I was interested in watching." 

"I remember the 1975 Little 500. Man, I had a good time. I sat with some of Cliff Cochram's people, and they just kept picking on me about how Cliff was gonna beat my dad. They ran first and second for most of the race, until Cliff caught on fire, and Dad ended up winning the race. That was a lot of fun!"

With his brother Jim, Dave eventually got into go-cart racing. "Jim actually helped me buy my first go-cart. We had that go-cart track in Bettsville, and we had 500 lap races out there. The first race I ever run, we ran second to John Ivy. That was a lot of fun, 500 laps. That's the kind of racing I like, long races. The short races, they don't last long enough. I just love to race."

Then came his first experience in a full sized race car. "I bought a car off of Dave Durnwald. I traded a welder, a 3-wheeler and $700 for my first race car. And I still have that car today, we're restoring it. It's almost the same as dad's Century Die car. I'd like to get that done in the next year or so. We went to Sandusky my first night out. We couldn't keep up with the super modifieds, obviously, but man, I had a good time. We won rookie honors that year."

Finally, Dave looked to dirt sprints when Al Harrison bought a 1985 Gambler off of Bobby Distel. "He's my cousin, I call him my uncle all the time. We went over to Findlay and ran tenth there my first night out with a 355 motor. We were very happy with that." Dave drove for "Uncle Al" for 14 years.

As was the case with many drivers, the guy he most looked forward to running against was Mark Keegan. "I remember the first year I raced we finished 7th at Fremont, and I was very proud of that fete. Mark helped us as much as he could, as he has a lot of people. He was probably the one that I wanted to beat the most because he was the best at that time."

"I've never really won any big races, but winning here at Fremont, in the home town a couple years ago was probably one of my best, and Attica in '92 was a pretty good one." He also won once at K-C, and has run in a some Little 500's. 

This season he is driving a winged sprinter for someone other that Al Harrison for the first time in 14 years, but there are no hard feelings. "Rodney Duncan kind of turned that team around. They've got some good motors now. Not that we didn't have good parts, and Al did do everything that he could. It's just that we didn't know what we were doing. A lot of it was my fault. I couldn't tell the mechanics what to do because I didn't learn the stuff from good people to begin with. Now we've learned, and finally 10 years later we're finally doing something." 

Doug Ludwig Motorsports announced at the PRI show that his new driver will be David Harrison, and he has assembled an impressive team in support of the new effort. The driver's name on the car says "Super Dave" Harrison, and includes a cartoon figure pushing a cart. "We're very excited," says Harrison. "He's given us everything we've ever dreamed of." Now Harrison is working with a veteran crew, including several who have worked with Frankie Kerr, and the future looks bright. "This race team we 've got here, I feel like we've got the best shot of doing anything than we've ever had in our racing career" The new ride is sponsored by Crown Battery, Blaster Racing, Snyder Floor Covering, United Expressline Trailers, Delco of Cinncinatti, and others.

Of today's promising young drivers Dave says, "I'll tell you, there's so many of them. Obviously Brandon Martin is doing pretty good, and Craig Mintz looks like he's gonna be pretty good. It's hard to say. I'm friends with all of them and I try not to be biased. Right now those two guys seem to have the best equipment and their running pretty good. I'll just have to see, hopefully they don't beat me anytime too soon."

Today, at age 39 David Harrison's priorities are a bit different than they were in his younger days. "Ten years ago all I thought of was racing, but right now family is number one, and of course God." 

Dave still has several goal that he would like to reach in racing. "I would like to win the Little 500 one of these days. I would like to win an All Star show, that's something I haven't done yet."

Harrison clearly remains a fan favorite. At the Tiffin Mall Sprint Car Show, his car outpolled runner-up John Ivy by a 2-to-1 margin. While some of that is clearly attributable to his popularity, he was quick to give credit to others. "I think it had a lot to do with, we're from Tiffin, and Doug's from Tiffin, and Bettsville, the Tiffin Mall is where they all go. In all fairness, I think that had a lot to do with it. It's probably a biased opinion, but that's the best looking car I've ever had. I think just being in that area helped us a lot, because a lot of our fans are from that area." Speaking directly to his fans he said, "I have to thank them a lot for their support. Without the fans, obviously the racing wouldn't be here. I get along with the fans, I'll tell ya. We see them all at the go-cart track, and we just have a good time with them. I can't remember everybody's names, and it's not that I don't know who you are, it's just that I have a bad memory. I meet so many people at the go-cart track, and racing, it's just hard to remember everybody's name, but I know who they are.

At 39, Harrison has't given much thought to the notion of retiring, and he feels that he has not yet reached his racing prime. "Josh is getting old enough to where he's gonna be driving, he wants to anyway, but I feel like I've got another 5, 6, maybe 10 years. It just depends on how everything goes. I feel we're getting better as I get older. I'm definitely getting more patient. I never was a patient man." When might he retire? "Probably when I can't get out of bed anymore."

Meanwhile, the fans and competitors can continue to enjoy the company and the driving style of one of the most likeable guys in our great sport.

© 2003 by Stephen J. Hartzell