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Life is a ‘day job and race cars’
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For cousins Clayton Oliver, Noah Patterson
By Leigh Ann Rutledge
Cousins Clayton Oliver and Noah Patterson are carrying on the family tradition of racing.
They race in the local series at Midvale Speedway in the Compact Class (driving Chevys) and in the Midwest Compact Touring Series. The cousins grew up at the race track watching their dads compete and both were in the driver’s seat before they had a legal driver’s license.
Oliver, 23, is a graduate of Malvern High School and a third-generation driver. His grandfather, Dan Crislip, and his dad, Robert Oliver, both raced at Midvale. He is proud to say, he was born in December and attended his first race in April, at around four months old.
At age 14, he took his place in the driver’s seat of a 1994 Chevy Beretta his grandfather bought him. He won nine features that first year and was named “Rookie of the Year” in 2012.
“My grandfather took me to the storage units so I could learn to drive a stick shift,” Oliver laughed. “I stalled it a million times, but finally learned. It took a long time to figure out how to drive.”
He uses #19 to race under in both the local and touring series. Number 19 was his dad’s car number and he is carrying the number on. Robert passed way after watching his son race his rookie year.
Oliver doesn’t do mechanical work on the cars. He is quick to note, he was named rookie of the year because he had the best mechanic and pit crew.
“Without my grandpa and Uncle Tim (Oliver), I wouldn’t be able to do what I do,” he said.
Oliver won the Cavalcade at Barberton two-day event. Heat races are held Friday and the feature Saturday.
“I didn’t have the best car out there, but it was decent,” he said. “I lead about 25 laps out of the 30. When I got to the checkered, I had the biggest smile.”
He has also won the Mid-Season Cavalcade at Sandusky.
“Midvale has the best competition around,” Oliver said. “There are a lot of good guys who know the track. You have to follow them and try to learn their moves in order to pass them.”
His future plans include “conquering the compact class” then moving to street stock.
“My dad won a championship, then moved up,” Oliver explained. “I have his street stock to run.”
Patterson, 19, resides in Minerva. He began racing the local series five years ago because his dad, Jesse, raced a street stock. He began in the touring season last year.
He was always in the pits at the races. When he was 12 years old, he watched his grandma race his uncle’s car in a powderpuff race. She placed second or third.
One day, it began. He was driving his dad’s old compact car in a practice session the day before a race. He was hooked as soon as he got in the car. He raced the next day and was proud to say he didn’t finish last.
“As soon as I sat in the seat and buckled in, I thought this is for me,” said Patterson.
In good natured rivalry, Patterson said, “I’ve finished in front of Clayton a couple of times.”
Those times include the mid-season championship, where Patterson and Oliver, placed one-two.
“There is nothing like winning,” Patterson said. “It’s great. You don’t feel anything else like that. You have so much adrenaline.”
Patterson is in for racing as many races as he can get in a night. While Oliver says, “Racing is racing.” Patterson would rather be in the Honda because it is faster, but also safer. They average about 105-110 mph qualifying.
Patterson has been lucky he hasn’t had many accidents. His car jumped another car and he went up on the wall. After a moment of silence and, in a way only people who are close can communicate, Clayton says what about that accident. Noah laughs and says, “yeah.”
He was competing at Sandusky the day after New Year’s in the “Hangover Heat”. The event is held regardless of the weather. Patterson explained he won the heat and when he threw his hand in the air, his car hit a slick spot.
“I went over an embankment and down about 700 feet into a wall of tires,” Noah admitted.
In the touring series, Oliver and Patterson run Hondas because there is more that can be done to Hondas than a Chevrolet.
Participants can make whatever changes they want to the chassis and motor and are allowed to run race tires. Officials in the touring series are more about safety, noted Oliver. They require a full containment seat.
The Midwest Compact Touring Series is also a circle track lap race. Oliver and Patterson have traveled to Pennsylvania and Michigan to race. They recently competed at Lucas Oil Speedway in Indianapolis, IN.
“It was a blast. I qualified in the top 10. I had a good car all day and was competing in the heat with two to go when I got hit,” Oliver said. “I ended up fourth.”
He noted they ran the feature under the lights. Oliver started second and led 20 laps before the car shut off because the crank sensor broke.
In 2019, Oliver won one race, but placed in the top five weekly. “It was great to go back and win at my home track.”
Over 10 years of racing, Oliver has not joined the “upside down club” yet, but has been airborne, drove over the hood of another car and been up eight feet on the wall. Fortunately, all he has sustained has been a dislocated shoulder.
Oliver is the paint and body man for all the cars and works full-time at Deluxe Body in Carrollton.
Patterson can do some of the mechanical work and helps Oliver paint on occasion. Oliver is quick to add Patterson can tape up a car for painting.
Everyone involved pitches in and makes it all work. The family owned race team is sponsored by Malvern Metal Roofing, Dyno-Mite, Performance Tuning, Denny’s Towing, Story Motors, Patterson Motorsports, and Crislip Motorsports.
“Speed is everything for this family,” Patterson said.
“It’s a team effort,” Oliver laughed. “I give Noah a bump or two. Grandpa doesn’t like when we race against each other.”
Both Oliver and Patterson plan to continue racing, being “weekend drivers”. They agree, life is “a day job and race cars.”
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