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Walker to debut in season’s biggest race

Harrison Walker has long awaited an opportunity to get his own racecar and try his hand at auto racing.

Tuesday night, in the 50-lap Pure Stock race that will be part of the 200 NASCAR Whelen Late Model 200 racing program at South Boston Speedway, the 15-year-old Buffalo Junction resident will get his chance.

Walker, an accomplished go-kart racer, will make his debut with his No. 10 Nissan 240SX  in the season’s longest and richest Pure Stock Division race, and finally bring a dream to reality.

“I’m really excited and looking forward to it, but I’m definitely a little bit nervous,” Walker said Saturday, a day after he drove his car for the first time during a testing session at South Boston Speedway.

“I’ve been looking forward to this as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to race NASCAR. Since I was five-years-old, I’ve wanted to drive everything I could get my hands on.”

“If I said I wasn’t nervous I’d be lying,” added Walker.

“Watching it is one thing. Getting out there and actually doing it is another.” 

An accomplished go-kart racer, Walker won the WKA Junior Animal Sprint Light  Division event at VIRginia International Raceway last summer and placed second in the Junior Animal Sprint Heavy Division. 

He has also competed at Daytona International Speedway in the Animal Sprint 360 and Animal Sprint 385 divisions, faring well in both divisions.

Walker is a two-time division points champion in the Halifax County Middle School karting program and won nine of 18 races through the past three years. 

He is an honor student and is a rising sophomore at Halifax County High School.

While Walker has a lengthy list of go-kart racing accomplishments, his goal for Tuesday night is simple.

“I just want to finish the race,” Walker pointed out.

“I want to try to keep the car off of the wall and away from everybody else. I need seat time. I need to get out there and learn.”

Friday’s first test in the car was an experience in itself. 

“The first time around, I was scared to death and I was only going something like 40 mph,” Walker said.

“The longer I was out on the track the more used to it I got. Then, we had a mechanical problem and I had to park it for the day. I had gotten only about 20 laps in. I wasn’t quite up to speed yet but I started smelling something burning, so I had to come in and see what it was. 

“It was disappointing,” he added, “but it was something we could fix fairly easily so we can get back to the track and practice some more Monday.” 

For Walker, Tuesday’s Pure Stock race at South Boston Speedway will mark something of a culmination of a lengthy project that started back in December.

“I really didn’t think the car would be done at this point,” Walker pointed out.

“It’s really kind of a miracle. It’s amazing what Clark Daniel has been able to do to help us. Without him and the people that help him, I probably wouldn’t have raced this year.”

Walker said he will be relying heavily in the experience he gained from racing go-karts in the WKA, his having attended Camp Motorsport at VIR last summer, and from the knowledge he gained through the Halifax County Public Schools’ Motorsports Academy.

“I would never have gotten into go-kart racing if it hadn’t been for the Motorsports Academy program at the middle school,” he explained.

“The transition to the high school program has helped broaden my horizons. I was in the Motorsports Academy program the first semester this past school year. I’ll be in it again this year. To get into the classroom every day and have the opportunity to work on things helped me a lot.” 

For Walker, things will start coming together Tuesday when he takes the green flag for the season’s longest and richest Pure Stock race at South Boston Speedway.

“I have a lot of people to thank for all of this, especially my father and mother (Sam and Karen Walker) and my grandparents (J. Grey Walker of Buffalo Junction and William and Marlene Harris of Clarksville).

“My cousin, Chandler Walker, has been a tremendous help. J.E. Anderson, who has been in the Motorsports program for three years, has helped a lot. So have, Clark Daniel, Chance, and everybody at Riverview. I’m grateful to everybody, including our sponsors, who have helped make this opportunity possible.”