What were you doing when you were 14-years-old? I was probably playing GameBoy in my room with the music turned up too loud and eating everything my mother put in the cabinets. Rob Noaker, however, just spent his 14th year on Earth winning a professionally contested motor racing event, yesterday’s MX-5 Cup race at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.
After a race that was pockmarked by an early caution, Robert Noaker managed to keep his cool and slowly inch forward in a short 30 minute sprint race. He started 15th in a 30-car starting grid, making his achievements all the more noteworthy. In an exciting battle to the finish that you have to see to believe, Noaker took the point with about half of the race left to run. On his final lap of the track, however, he lost and re-took the lead of the race in an incredible three-way battle for position.
The runner-up, Hernan Palermo, age 44, won the Masters class, giving us a 30 year age gap between the winner Robert and 2nd placed Hernan. While spec racing is occasionally disparaged as boring, this race proves that it gives evenly matched racers an incredibly competitive outlet to show off their talents. After a race like that, it’s hard to imagine this will be the last time we hear Noaker’s name.
“I wasn’t expecting to win today – but I was hoping I would have a chance this weekend,” said Noaker. “I have done two weekends here at Mid-Ohio in Spec Miata. I was really trying to take care of my front tires because this track is really low grip, and a lot of the turns are downhill so you need to manage them. On the last lap, going down in to turn four, I was being really defensive to protect the lead and Hernan outbraked me on the outside. From then on, I was asking myself if I should try a risky move, or if I should settle for second. But then going through turn 11, he got sideways and that’s when I decided I needed to make my move.”