Tommy Noblin was born in 1940 in Clifton Mississippi. He went to his first race in 1958 and two weeks later he had his own car. As with all of the Scott County Gang, racing got in his blood quickly.
I’ve been told that Tommy could race thirteen months out of a year. He teamed up with car owners Rubin Finch and mechanic Udall Sessions and quickly made a name for himself as an initiator in the sport. Tommy knew that the lighter he could make the car, the faster it would go. He was always looking for ways to remove weight.
In the mid 1960’s, racing in central Mississippi went through a huge change. The asphalt tracks started drawing the larger crowds and faster cars. Asphalt tracks in Montgomery, Jackson, Laurel and Pensacola took their toll on the local dirt tracks. Tommy bought a car and tried asphalt racing for a short time but dirt track racing was his passion. One of the tracks that managed to survive the changing times was Whynot Raceway located southeast of Meridian Mississippi. Tommy started driving for car owner Richard Webb and they started winning races, quickly becoming a fan favorite.
Tommy loved racing and he also loved kids. He knew that the future of the sport was in the children and he always made time for his younger fans. One of those youngsters was Jody Walters. These days, Jody is a racecar driver from Meridian MS and has to be Tommy’s #1 fan. Jody always had a sign in the cockpit of his car that read “ Be a Hero to a Child – In Memory of Tommy Noblin”. Several years ago, Jody gave Tommy’s son that sign.
Tommy, like most drivers, had many tricks up his sleeve. One was also in his shoes. Tommy always wore an old pair of Hushpuppies to the track. He would walk the track in his Hushpuppies and they would give him a feel of how to set up the car for the race. I’ve been told that the more the track stuck to his Hushpuppies, the larger his smile.
1973 and 1974 were Tommy’s most impressive years. In 1973, Tommy won 15 of 16 races at Whynot in the sprint car class. The only man to beat him was Bubby Jones of Dansville IN. In 1974, he continued his winning streak. A $500 bounty was placed on Tommy to be given to any driver that could beat him. Marty Broadus was the Gulf Coast Sprint Champion in 1973. He came up from the coast to see if he could collect that bounty. He finished 2nd to Tommy that night. Others to come to Whynot and try to collect the bounty were Terry Broadus of Long Beach, Sammy Swindell of Bartlett TN, Bobby Marshall of Dallas TX and Jim McElreath of Fort Worth TX. All came up short. Tommy went on to win 16 of 16 races at Whynot in 1974 and collect the $500 for himself. The only man to beat Tommy at Whynot in 1973 and 74 was Bubby Jones. Tommy and Bubby went on to become lifelong friends.
Tommy’s abilities behind the wheel turned heads all over the nation. In 1974 he took his car to a Championship Race in Phoenix AZ. He qualified his car 4th of over 70 entries. Unfortunately he crashed his car in turn 1 after qualifying and could not make the race. Car owners started lining up to ask him to drive their cars in the big race.
Tommy discovered how to run Firestone 500 drag racing tires on his sprinter. He went to a Championship race at the Talladega short track and just walked all over the field. The next week he received a new set of Firestone 500s from Firestone. He called the company to let them know that he had not ordered any tires. They told him that they had sold over $40,000 worth of tires because of his showing in Talladega. They just wanted to say thanks !!
In 1975 through 1979, Tommy drove several cars for owner Bobby Davis and also for owner Bob Gillentine. These owners provided Tommy many opportunities to drive quality cars in big races all over the nation. In 1975 Tommy won track championships at West Memphis, Little Rock and Greenville. He also won big races in Kansas, Indiana, Texas, and Ohio. During this time, a group of Tommy’s racing friends started developing the foundation of what we call today “The World of Outlaws”.
On August 13, 1979, Mississippi racing lost a great driver. While driving an 18 wheeler from New Orleans back to his home in Birmingham, Tommy ran into the rear of another disabled 18 wheeler stranded in the middle of Hwy 98 near Tylertown MS. Tommy was buried in Birmingham, dressed in his race suit and helmet.
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