||Hey race fans, "The Cast Iron Junkie" here! Because of the generosity of the founders www.dirtfans.com, and
their desire to have the most informative and entertaining Dirt Racing web site on the planet today, they are
allowing me to share my love for the sport, and passion of the dirt racing up here in Northwest, Ohio , with you, the
I've got just a ton of things I believe are noteworthy to you, but I'm going to begin with someone I feel is one of the
top minds in the sport today, and hardest working individuals I've ever meet. His name is Chuck Noonan. He is the
owner and operator Performance Machining Racing Engines, and father, engine builder, and crew chief, for his son
Casey Noonan, one of this area's rising Stars in the Dirt Late Model division. I consider myself truly blessed to
have known Chuck, for over 30 years now, being a part time crew member, employee, and longtime family friend!
So, without any further delay, here is "Twenty Laps" with Chuck Noonan.
CIJ: Chuck, how'd you get started in racing?
CN: My Dad had a Micro Midget, and raced all around the area when I was a kid. I didn't go all the time, but I
remember those crazy SOB's flyin' around. Those guys were nuts! I knew right then I wanted to race something!
CIJ: So, what was your first race car?
CN: Oh, me and Ed Wilcox, a buddy of mine from auto shop (high school auto mechanics) went partners on a 61
Chevy, bubble top car, and we fixed it up and started drag racing it. We built up a little 283, I think it was like 301
cubic inch, you know. We called them little motors "peenie cubers" (laughing) It was a neat little race car!
CIJ: What was next?
CN: Well, I got a job at Seaport Automotive, and the guy who owned it, Dick Titsworth, had a Funny Car, and ran,
what at the time, was the hottest machine shop in town , and anybody who raced anything was over there at one
time or another. Dick was really smart, an awesome fabricator, and one hell of a machinist. I learned a bunch from
him, and he taught me about everything he knew, and I just sucked it up like a sponge! I met a bunch of good racers
over there...... anyway, I bought a rear engine dragster, and built a big block Chevy, and started running it up at
Milan Dragway. (Milan, Michigan)
CIJ: Did you have any success with that car?
CN: Oh yeah, It was a really good car, and Dick helped us a bunch, and we got that thing where it was pretty fast,
but it was one of those deals, you know, we were doing the IHRA deal, running A Econo Dragster, but back then we
might have to run 13 second car, hell, they'd be out there at half track, before I could leave. That was some scary
shit! Chasing down a car that’s got a 600 foot lead. It was nuts! That old car ran 7:70's and 80's, so I'd be closing
down on them in a big hurry, you know. I'd be running a car that went 100 mph, tops, and I'm coming about 155, 160
mph it was just ridiculous! (laughing again)
CIJ: With all the drag racing and engine building, how you get turned on to the dirt?
CN: Well, I knew a couple guys, that heard about Oakshade, and said “you’ve got to see this", so we went out
there to see the sprint cars. I knew when I first laid eyes on the place , and seen them sliding sideways, just
standing on the gas, with injectors hanging out of the hood, screaming around there...... that was it! I was hooked!
CIJ: So, what was you first dirt car?
CN: I built a motor for a guy who ran a Late Model, down south, and was doing pretty good, and he was getting a
new car, and that car became available, so we made a deal, and I got the car.
CIJ: Do you remember what kind of chassis it was?
CN: Yeah, it was a Zeek Zimmer car. Wow, that old boy knew his stuff. Excellent fabricator, it was a really neat
CIJ: Man Chuck, I remember, when you got it home, it was cool! That thing had that big tunnel down the middle
and openings in the deck for the air to go thru the body.
CN: Yeah, it was neat, but it didn't go over real big up here! (laughing again)
CIJ: Tell me what you mean.
CN: Well , you remember, you were there, we took it over to Millstream(in Findlay, Ohio) , and qualified like 4th or
5th quick, first time out.... we didn't know squat about turnin' left, so we thought that was pretty good! But that
track was a UMP deal and they told us that tunnel's got to go! (laughing again)
CIJ: Well, let me tell you, it was pretty good. I'll never forget it, me and your brother (Craig Noonan) were pumped!
I guess I've got you to blame for this dirt racing sickness I've got!
CN: I suppose so.... ( laughing again)
CIJ: How'd you get hooked up with Bob Andrews, and what made him your choice for a driver?
CN: I knew him through some guys I built some drag motors for, I knew he was a good racer, and I knew he was
the track Champ up at Butler in them upright modifieds. And we just always got along.
CIJ: I remember, you got the next car from Dale DeLong. An Old Rayburn leaf car wasn't it?
CN: Yeah, I was building the motors for Karl LaPointe, who was furnishing the motors for Rick DeLong, and they
were running pretty good, and we kind of got a deal on it, and there were alot of fast guys running them old
CIJ: I remember that car. Do you remember, not to long after you got that car, we were running second in the
feature at Oakshade, and we were running down old Jim Flemming, for the lead, and Rick DeLong couldn't get
around us, so he just slammed Bob in the back? He hit him so hard, it spun Bob so fast, the two cars locked front
bumper, to front bumper?
CN: I remember you were so pissed; you got the torque wrench, and took off running, damn near in tears!
(laughing out loud)
CIJ: Yeah, I didn't think it was that funny! I worked my ass off on that car that week! I guess I just wanted us to
win, and I thought that was a dirty ass move!
CN: Oh' no doubt, it was a dirty move!
CIJ: Old Bob knew I was pissed and tried to settle me down, and promised he'd get him back, so I let it lay. I really
wanted to split that dude's head open! I don't like him, still to this day!
CN: LOL! You ain't changed a bit! LOL!
CIJ: Yeah, well, I have mellowed a bit, but I still get the same feeling watching your car go to the front! I'm horse
today, from yellin' when Casey was battling tonight, sometimes 3 wide, and at some point 4 wide when the 2,3,4,5
pack, came on the lap cars! LOL!
CIJ: You and Bob seemed to work pretty good together, what caused Bob to quit the dirt racing deal?
CN: Oh , he lived a bit far, he was getting older, and had a chance to get a real good drag car, so I ended up buying
CIJ: You did drive the car quite a few times over the next two or three seasons after that, but it seemed you just
never got comfortable. How was it driving?
CN: Not so good! LOL! I could drive it OK, but I'd always be listening to the motor, because I built it, and I don't
think I could give all I had to the driving...... I'm to much an engine builder, and I make my living doing that, so that
was always on my mind.
CIJ: Well, by that time you started on a Sportsman car for Casey, and still had the Late Model. How’d you find the
time to do all that?
CN: I just made time. The Late Model wasn't that big of a deal to me right then we were just having some fun, and I
wanted to get Casey started...... and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. He took to it like a duck to water.
He listened real well, and worked really hard to drive better, and really started to understand the mechanics, so it
was a cool deal.
CIJ: You won some races with that old car (the car I now own), and you were racing against some way better cars
and way more experienced drivers. What would you say allowed that to happen?
CN: Well, I felt like those guys were way overdriving them cars, and if we were smart about it, we could do pretty
decent, and run up front sometimes. So, we worked together, and I coached him, and he did just what he was
supposed to do, and it worked.
CIJ: Casey got the Rookie of the Year, that first year, and won 1 feature, and had a bunch of top 5 finishes. Then
the next year he got Most Improved driver, and won the big $500 to win deal, and started being a good consistent
driver. How'd he end up in the seat of your car?
CN: He just said "Dad let me try the Late Model”, and I thought, what the hell, and here we are.......
CIJ: Well, from my point of view, he's one of the smartest guys out there, for his experience, and he takes care of
CN: Yeah, he does. I'm really proud of him! Sometimes people don't understand why he does some of the things he
does, in the seat, but believe me, there is a method to his madness! LOL! But I think Paul Fletcher captured him to
a "T" in the DLM Magazine article, they did on us last year. He doesn’t brag, he just works hard, and works
smart. He drives the same way. People say he's so smooth; it's almost boring to watch. He doesn't put the car in a
compromising position, or he doesn’t force the issue. He'd rather set the nose down , and get another run on a guy ,
then to barrel it in there and take a chance of tearing up his stuff, or anybody else's
CIJ: After 5 years in the Late Model, you guys finally got your first feature win. What was that like?
CN: Well, we should have won way before that, but you know how it goes, not the exact right time, right place kind
of deal, but it was a big relief! He passed some really good cars, and ran the leader down to get that first win! It
was awesome! But, that opened up a whole new can of worms! LOL! Now we know we can win, and what used to be
a good run, just isn't quite as good, because we want to win. So, now were trying to get our program upgraded, and
get some good baseline setups for a few of these local tracks, and just try to learn something every time out. The
competition up here is fierce, and you've really got to be up on your game to run good, so we just keep pluggin'
away, we’re getting there.
CIJ: Well Chuck, I think you guys are doing a great job this year. What are the goals for the rest of 2006?
CN: Well.... stop that 91 car (Rusty Schlenk) from dominating! LOL! We'd like to win one at home, here at
Oakshade. We're struggling a little, just like everybody with these newer Rockets, with the" blue” front ends, but
we've found a few things, and the car is coming around.
CIJ: What about Eldora?
CN: Well....... we suck there! We did lead some laps there in one of the ALMS features last year, and ended up
4th. Casey got the Most Improved Driver at Eldora, and we were really surprised, anyone but our little clan even
noticed. It was a neat deal to win. We had a good run going back in April, qualified good enough to start on the pole
of the heat, got the lead, and the damned temp sending unit came out of the intake, and sprayed hot water
everywhere!. I've never seen that happen in 20 plus years of dirt racing! That sucked! We were in the same heat as
Tony Stewart, and he made his way up to second, and I just remember pulling him off of turn 4 and the caution came
on, and I seen smoke, and the boy pulled in. Then we were stuck way back in the consi, the flagman didn't get them
all lined up, and thru the green when the last several rows were 15, 20- car lengths back, we were done. Eldora is
one place we want to get better at. Matt Miller and Casey are pretty good buddies, and Matt's been a big help,
helping us get pointed in the right direction. I built all Matt's motors before they got the Russell Baker deal, and
really have alot of respect for Denny Thorton (Matt Miller's car owner) and the team they've built. They are a
legit top 20 DLM team, and they are super fast at Eldora...... $116,000 over the last season and half. They've really
done a great job, and we can't thank them enough.
CIJ: Other than Eldora, is there anyplace you like to race, that isn't part of the ALMS series.
CN: Florence! We like it down there! I think you are the one who told me how good the racing was down there, and
how you thought Casey's driving style would be really effective there. You were right!
CIJ: Thank You, Sir.
CN: Anyway, last year we went a couple times. We went to the North/South and we just fell in love with the place
we didn't make the feature, but we learned alot, we felt we could use the next time we went. And we were right!
We went back in October, for the Battle of the Bluegrass Fall 50 deal, and had some success. We just missed the
invert, and had to start 5th in the heat. We got up to third, and a transfer spot, and he made one little error, and
finished 4th. That put us on the outside of the front row for the consi. John Gill had the pole, and Mike Jewell was
starting third. I was pretty nervous, as would anyone be with those two guys up there! But, I thought if he could get
to the bottom, and let the car do the work, we'd be OK. Hell, we were better than OK! LOL! Case got a good start,
and got to turn 1 first, and he never looked back! Man those guys were like a pack of hungry dogs! Gill tried him on
the highside, really runnin' her in there deep, but Casey drove smart, getting out of the throttle early, get the car
turned, and get back to the gas sooner, and it worked like a charm! He was killing them off the turns at both ends! I
guess Gill got a little flustered, and he ran it into 3 super deep, and got up along side of him, and that thing pushed
up the track and that let Mike Jewell get by him for the transfer spot. Now it was Mike Jewell dogging him, but the
kid stuck to the game plan, and Jewell couldn't gain on him. I'll be damned, if he didn't give up trying to go around
him, and tucked in behind him to see if the couldn't rattle him, and make him give up the bottom. He did get close,
and actually give him a little shot in the shorts, going into 1, but Case was smooth, and the car was hooked up, so we
won it! Casey isn't one to overdrive the car, and that style really pays off down there.
CIJ: Well we were up in the stands on the backstretch, right in front of the "Drunken Race Fan" and JTodd
LeFevers, and we were going nuts! Casey was killing those guys off the corner, and we were saying "where's the
white flag"! It seemed like it was 25 or 30 laps! LOL! What an awesome job! If you remember, we came down to
your hauler and I said "you got some national attention there"! "Sent John Gill home and gave Mike Jewell a
CN: Oh yeah, I remember. It was a pretty neat deal, cause both of those guys are awesome racers, and it felt really
good to run with them!
CIJ: Well it's now about ten days before the 2006 version of the North/South, and you're getting ready to try it
again. Got anything special in the works, to be better prepared to make race of that caliber?
CN: Yeah, we're trying to get a new motor together, it's the best one I've ever had, and we're hoping is going to
make us a little better. You know a little closer to the top guys, and at these big events you need all the help you
CIJ: Well, you know how I feel. Noone I'd rather see have success! I don't think that there's anyone who deserves
it any more than you guys do!
CN: Well I really appreciate that Jeff. I think it's great, what you are doing, bringing a little publicity to our area
and drivers. Thanks for all the support over the years.
CIJ: I'm honored to do so, Chuck. You know we're gonna be down there to give you a hand, and do what we can to
help you guys get the job done!
CN: Well I appreciate that to! You can never have enough help!
CIJ: Hey, Just let me say, thanks to you, for everything you've taught me, and all the stuff you do to help me have
a good competitive race car, and be a better owner and driver.
CN: Well, you're welcome.
CIJ: OK Chuck, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.
CN: Yeah, get outta here, so I can get something done! LOL! No, seriously, thank you for believing our story is
worth writing about. I see about all the stuff you post on the different message boards, and I think you write very
well, and your enthusiasm shows! Let me also say what a great thing we all think www.dirtfans.com is, and they are
lucky to have you, cause I'm sure the articles you produce will be excellent. Not too many guys up here have the
talent or the inclination to do this kind of thing, and we appreciate it!
CIJ: Coming from you, it really means alot! Thanks again Chuck!
I hope you guys and gals enjoyed that, because it was a ball for me, getting to interview what I believe to be one of
the nicest, most talented, and hardworking guys in the business.
Thanks to JTodd and Jody for giving me an opportunity. I'll work really hard to bring you the best quality work I
Talk to you soon, Jeff Cornes, aka "The Cast Iron Junkie"