NASCAR Veteran Mike Harmon has seen 18 years of NASCAR Xfinity. That’s 18 years of qualifications, 18 years of practice and traveling across the nation to take his place in the lineup at the start of each Saturday race. Those 18 years have added up to 250 races this Saturday. For Harmon, the time seems to have flown by almost as fast as the cars on a track come race day. “I did not even realize it until it was brought to my attention,” Harmon said when asked to reflect on his career. While it may feel like a blur to Harmon, every story begins somewhere and for him, that means going back to the very beginning.
Before racing was even on Harmon’s radar, the foundation was set in family. According to the 60-year-old driver, without the support of his mother and sister in addition to his father’s guidance which made him “man enough to do this,” and pointed him in the right direction to make his journey in racing there may not be a 250th race to celebrate.
Harmon’s first taste of what it was like to be behind the wheel of a race car was on short tracks in the southeast which according to the driver brought great success, “We won a lot of races and championships, but I always wanted to run full time with NASCAR on the bigger tracks.”
That chance to begin his journey into the world of NASCAR came in 1995 when Harmon hit the track for seven races. Reflecting on those races Harmon said it was, “enough to know I really wanted to pursue my dream but I needed to go back to short tracks for awhile.”
After his short stint in NASCAR, Harmon took up ARCA racing for a time and has 100 races under his belt in that league. His 2001 return to the NASCAR Xfinity series stuck this time as Harmon saw all his hard work pay off in the form of 18 consecutive years and counting of experience that adds up to his 250th race this Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in San Bernadino County, California.
Harmon’s determination, his faith and support from family and friends have all been major factors in his lengthy career but in order to keep a well oiled machine running, there must be a business side to the practice. This is a part of the NASCAR career path that Harmon is no stranger to. “I have a limited budget that I can depend on each week. These race cars run on cubic dollars not cubic inches which is tough for 40 teams to maintain.” As both driver and owner of his own team, Harmon dedicates a large portion of his time to making sure his team is financially secure in addition to making sure he and his car are prepared to take the track every week.
For a portion of his funding, Harmon looks toward several sponsors every year to ensure his team is prepared for whatever each week may throw their way. Among his former and current 2018 sponsors are Shadow Warriors Project, Horizon Transport, KoolBox, Hitman RaceWear, RGB Imaging, Heroes Media Group, HANRO Engraving, AFM Graphics, Professional Printers Inc., and The Danny Dietz Memorial Fund.
“It just takes more funding to run competitive,” Harmon explained, “You have all these teams that have very smart people plus a lot of data from cup teams which makes it extremely hard for teams that don’t have that luxury. At the end of the day I expect from myself and my team to do the best they can for that race that day and you can walk out of there with your head held high.”
This Saturday’s race, marking 250 races for NASCAR veteran Mike Harmon will take place at 2:00 pm Mountain Standard Time in San Bernadino County, California at Auto Club Speedway. Upon completing qualifying, it has been determined that Harmon will begin in 39th place. The race will be featured on Fox Sports 1 and the Motor Racing Network as well as on the official NASCAR Xfinity website.
For all updates on Team Harmon, keep tabs on their official facebook page.