ROSSBURG – Devin Moran knows all about Late Model racing and the legendary Eldora Speedway. Even before he could walk or talk, he was in the shop or out at the racetrack watching his father.
“I haven’t changed my lifestyle yet,” Devin said with a laugh. “It’s pretty awesome. I loved going to the races when I was younger. We always had a camper. With a big family of mine – I have four siblings – it was all of us and Mom and Dad in the camper, and it was a blast. They homeschooled us just so we could go racing, and it was great. I can’t really think of words to describe it. Everything that we did growing up was just amazing. I was blessed by the good Lord to be able to do that.”
And not only was the young Devin blessed to grow up in such a close-knit racing family, but he also was fortunate to get to grow up learning from one of the best Late Model drivers in the country – Donnie Moran “the Million Dollar Man.”
Devin’s father earned that nickname by taking the checkered flag in the richest dirt race in history when Earl Baltes decided to offer $1 million to the winner in a race held in place of the Dream in 2001. Donnie also has one Dream win and four World 100 wins to his credit.
After a 35 year racing career, it was time to pass the torch. Donnie retired from racing two years ago and now spends his time helping out his kids. And just as it’s always been with the Morans, it’s still very much a family affair with Donnie’s son Devin doing the driving, son Wylie serving as crew chief, his wife helping out with the bookkeeping, and his other two kids often helping out as well.
“Like I told my wife, it was after we got back from Florida, and we were in here on a Saturday,” Donnie said. “Four of my five kids were in here on a Saturday afternoon. We were sitting around in the shop. My wife was doing a little bit of bookwork for me, and I told her, ‘Honey, can you believe that we have a son who’s 21, a son who’s 20, one who’s 18 and a daughter who’s 14 – and Saturday afternoon when they could be hanging out with their friends, they’re in here in the shop with their family and doing this?’ That’s just priceless.”
Now the family sets its sights on Eldora as Devin looks to join his father as the winner of the Dirt Late Model Dream presented by Ferris Mowers. The 21-year-old from Dresden has been running strong lately with five wins, eight top five finishes and 13 top 10s through 23 starts this year. And he’s hoping his skill combined with the advice of his mentor can help him find victory lane this Saturday.
“My Dad’s taught me so much in racing, almost everything I know,” Devin said. “I have guys like Keith Berner from Accu-Force shocks and Dynos who’s helped me out a lot as a driver. But Dad by far has helped me out more than anybody, and I can’t thank him enough.”
With a new points system that rewards good runs on Thursday and Friday with good starting spots in the heats on Saturday, Devin knows he will have to be quick at the Big E right out of the gate this weekend.
“We’ve got to make sure we run good the first night, then have the same thing the second night that’ll lock us into the front couple rows of the heat races since they changed the format this year,” Devin said. “Then in our heat race on Saturday, we have to make sure we have the car right and drive good just to get into the race. If you get into the race, you can win from anywhere.”
Both agree that a lot has changed over the years from the time Donnie was running to now with Devin racing. But while the technology and the cars have changed, they both say the prestige of winning one of the crown jewels at Eldora will always stay the same.
“When I raced, that was the place to win a race,” Donnie said. “If you could win at Eldora, then basically you were on top of the world. And that was before they had the Dream and the Million. That was kind of my motto in the beginning. If you could win the World 100, that meant you were on top of the world. But with them having the Million and the Dream, you know, you’re still on top of the world.”
With $100,000 on the line, it would be easy for a young driver to get distracted by the potential paycheck. But Devin says that in his eyes, the money isn’t what sets this event apart.
“The money isn’t really what I approach different. Going to Eldora is what I approach different. When you go to Eldora for the Dream and the World, it’s different than any other week of the year. Just the fact that you want to be the guy standing up on the stage at the end of the night. With Dad’s success, he knows how that is, but I don’t really know that yet. I’ve been up there with him a couple times, but I don’t really know that myself. That changes the game. When you know it’s Eldora weekend, you want to be the guy standing up on the stage on Saturday night. It just changes everything.”
Single day tickets start at just $20 with children (12 and younger) admitted free to general admission all three days of the Dirt Late Model Dream. Tickets and camping information is available at 937-338-3815 or www.EldoraSpeedway.com.