Orange County High School sophomore Corey Tolbert doesn’t have an official driver’s license. But he’s been driving and racing since he was five, and will test his skills this summer in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series at Dominion Speedway.
When Corey was very young his uncle bought him a go-cart, and Corey’s first observation on driving was that he wanted to go faster.
“Dad used to watch NASCAR a lot when I was little, and I never watched it with him until I started driving, and then I finally got why he liked it so much,” Corey said.
“He’s loved this since he was a young kid,” said his dad Allen. “As parents we never thought this would escalate to this level.
We just took it race by race, day by day, but his dream was NASCAR.”
He’ll take the next step toward that dream in the UCAR division at Dominion Speedway at Thornburg.
UCAR stands for “U Can Afford Racing.” It’s a division of short track racing that has gained popularity with fans and competitors in recent years, with drivers ranging in age from 14 to 50-plus.
UCARs are slightly modified front-wheel drive cars fitted with safety measures like roll cages and a racing seat.
Allen said the UCAR division brings back the old stock feel, of “race what you brung” and it gives drivers more experience driving in bigger fields, at higher speeds and on bigger tracks. “It’s driver development, basically,” he added.
Tolbert Motor Sports is a family affair, with Corey’s dad Allen helping out with mechanic work, testing and transportation and his mom Jennifer working on finances, business, marketing and photos.
Allen said Tolbert Motor Sports is still in its infant stages. “We’re still growing and learning,” he said. “This is Corey’s rookie season in the NASCAR series, and we’ve already made quite a few laps with the car. We’re doing a lot of testing; the car is handling very well.”
Corey’s car is a 1993 Dodge Shadow with a black and neon green paint job.
The color combination has a history. When Corey was four years old he was inerested in monster trucks, and Grave Digger was his favorite, and that’s where the colors originated. As time went on, and he started racing carts, his cart was always black and green.
The number 80 also tells a story, as it was Allen’s number when he played football at OCHS.
The stickers on the front end of the car denote NASCAR sponsors. Stickers behind the door posts are sponsors of Tolbert Motor Sports.
Allen said, “He needs a lot of help and we are always looking for more sponsors.”
It will cost, on average, $15,000 to run the car for a full season of 26 races.
Corey said racing is something he always wanted to do.
“It’s always been in my life and not one day goes by when I don’t think about what I’ll do in the future,” he said. “Of course I have “Plan Bs” just in case I don’t make it there.”
Corey wants to go to college for a NASCAR future.
He wants to earn a master’s degree in engineering, and drafting and design is something he’s been thinking about.
“I want to go to Universal Technical Institute in North Carolina so I can go into the NASCAR field and work on stock cars and also road automobiles,” he said.
Corey said most of his friends are supportive of his racing and he’s glad to see people come out and watch him drive, even it’s just practice.
He said others think there is no practical use for racing, and some of them think it’s too dangerous.
Corey’s advice to other young people interested in racing is, “If you love racing, then it’s great for you to do it. But if you’re iffy about it--don’t do it. This is a sport that you have to put your all into, and you have to be skillful at it.”
Corey also wants to remind his peers, “There’s a reason we have racetracks. The road is definitely not a place for fast cars. If you want to go fast, go to a racetrack and put on a seatbelt. Don’t do it on the road.”
Corey’s first practice was March 5, and he expects his first race to take place at Dominion Speedway before the end of April. Fans can follow his career at https://www.facebook.com/coreytolbert80
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