Joe Doran: From Prepping Tracks to Winning Races

Joe Doran: From Prepping Tracks to Winning Races

“Topless” Joe Doran earned his first win last Thursday at Stuart International Speedway in Iowa. The road to that hobby stock victory started behind the wheel of a tractor.

“As a kid I was best friends with Boone Speedway owner Bob Lawton’s nephew, Trevor,” Doran, of Paton, Iowa. “Me being a farmer, I learned to do track prep with a spring-tooth or sheepsfoot packer, driving an old John Deere 4520 tractor that did not have windows or a roof. That’s when I got the name ‘Topless Joe’ from the track announcer.”

Doran never raced on dirt ovals until he bought a hobby stock last year.

“I did some tractor pulling from time to time, but since high school, I had this burning desire to go stock car racing,” Doran said. “Someday I knew I would be one of those guys on the track.”

Once in the car, Doran had his doubts.

“I thought I could be a good driver — I just needed some self-confidence,” said Doran. “It takes a driver not just a car.

“I was humble on the track. I didn’t want to mess up guys that have been there for a long time.”

Looking for advice, he reached out to two-time IMCA Super Nationals champion Mike Smith, of Lake City, Iowa.

“Mike and I hit it off,” Doran said. “He invited me to his shop to scale my car. He gave me valuable pointers for success in hobby stock racing.

“Mike drove my new car on a slick track. He showed me how to back down my entry and keep the car under me. He made my car naturally look like it was floating on clouds.”

After starting the season with the used car he bought last year, he ordered a new one from Jet Racing. With that car, he won at Stuart, but that victory didn’t come easy.

“There were 25 cars — all competitive … they have no slouches,” said Doran. “On the last lap, Skylar Pruitt had a good run coming. I saw the blue nose of his car. He tried to take it away, baiting me to move down to his line. Then he got outside on the white-flag lap. I edged him at the finish line.”

The win completed the transformation of “Topless” Joe Doran as the tractor driver to “Topless” Joe Doran the hobby stock racer.