Building cars, winning part of Boland's life
HAPPY WINNER Mike Boland gets help from his sons Jamie (left) and Bret (right) showing off a trophy after one of his big wins this season. Submitted photo
By Matt Barrett/The Meridian Star
Nov. 7, 2001
CUBA, Ala. When the recent dirt track racing season rolled around earlier this year, local driver Mike Boland set his goals high.
It was no idle dream for the driver who has thundered around dirt tracks across the South for nearly 10 years. After this season, he has captured the Mississippi State Championship Challenge six of the past seven years.
Victory lane has been familiar place for the Alabama man since he started racing nearly a decade ago.
Boland started his racing career with the help of long-time racer and businessman Ben Howse, a resident of Laurel. In 1992, Howse called Boland to see if he would be interested in building and driving a car.
After that race, Boland became a full-time employee and driver for Howse's Performance Industries Inc. Boland drove 80 miles to Laurel for work each day, and did nothing but generate success during his time with Howse. His victories Included the first ever $10,000 win in 1993 in the Magnolia 100 at Whynot Speedway.
The time that Boland spent with Howse was short-lived but very important to his career.
In January 1994, Howse told Boland that he was getting out of the racing business. "I was devastated," Boland said.
But he wasn't ready to give up on his dream. He had his own shop and line of racing products. In 1995, with the help of his former employer, Boland Performance was born.
In the 1995 season, Boland was working hard to get his business off the ground. Mike raced the 1995 season for Cliburn Tank Lines team and won the Mississippi Late Model Championship, a nine-race series that is run on three tracks. Boland has since won this series five times, including this year's 2001 championship.
Boland also credits his success to car owner Barney Bairfield. Boland drove for Bairfield from 1996 until 1999.
The only other full-time employee of Boland Performance is Rodney Wing. Wing is becoming one of the South's most successful drivers, according to his mentor.
Boland and Wing spend their time together, racing and building cars. The two can put out more than three cars in a month. In the winter of 1995, Boland cranked out an amazing 16 cars.
Boland's performance is located in a field behind his home in Cuba. He and his wife, Lynn, have three children, Jamey, Bret and Bonni.
It's non-stop for the drivers and their families, he said.
Matt Barrett is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.