BUCKHANNON – Dirt track driving is so much more than hitting the gas pedal and turning left. Upshur County is the home to a number of dirt track drivers who find themselves at Elkins Raceway week after week.
After 11 years of racing on the dirt, driver Michael Moreland has no plans on hanging up his racing suit anytime soon. Join My Buckhannon by reflecting on the past, present and future of the Moreland Racing Team.
“I have grown up and been around dirt racing for as long as I can remember,” Moreland said. “My father, Duane Moreland, raced regionally in West Virginia, collecting several feature wins and a couple championships in different divisions. My story is no different than many sons wanting to be like their fathers. I idolized him and knew from an early age that all I wanted to do was be a race car driver.”
The story of the Moreland Racing Team begins behind the wheel of a flat car in 2004. For two years, the team raced at Thunder Canyon Super Kart in Fairmont, West Virginia. There, Moreland valiantly took home a heat race win. However, at a later race, he flipped the kart over on the front stretch of the track. A rollover wreck may scare some young drivers away from racing, but this did not keep him from stepping on the dirt again.
“After lackluster success in flat karts, we moved up to the Pure Stock Division at Elkins Raceway in 2009, winning my first feature in just the second night out,” Moreland said. “Success continued that year with multiple feature wins and my first championship.”
Following the 2009 season, Moreland started his growing family and built a home with the help of his father, thus taking several years away from racing. Those life milestones took the highest priority above all else, specifically racing. However, the story does not end there…
After several years away from racing, Moreland returned to Elkins Raceway in 2016 and felt right at home. This time, it would be behind the wheel of a UMP Modified car. The next year, in 2017, he made it out of a “pretty crazy barrel roll” in that same car while maneuvering through turn three at Elkins Raceway. Once again, the wreck did not keep Moreland from driving.
After three seasons driving a UMP Modified car, Moreland sought an adrenaline rush in a roaring Edge Hot Mod car. He drove strategically in that class, which allowed him to have great success behind the wheel for three seasons. Moreland made a home in Victory Lane at Elkins Raceway after several feature wins, plus his efforts landed him two championship wins.
After seeing success in the Edge Hot Mod class, he had his eyes locked on a FASTRAK Crate Late Model car for the 2022 racing season.
“The first year in the crate class proved to be super tough and competitive,” Moreland said. “Finally, in 2023 – after a season drought of not getting a win – we managed to win our first crate late model race, which I consider my most prized win because the class is so tough to be competitive and run up front.”
For a prospective driver of any age, Moreland suggests keeping your chin up, even when things don’t always go your way.
“My advice to any racer is to not get down on yourself,” Moreland said. “Racing is a very humbling sport. When you start winning or being competitive and think you have it figured out (which you never will), racing knocks you back down to reality. Keep pushing and keep fighting through the low times, because it will pay off in the end and success is just around the corner.”
Moreland’s success could not be possible without the support of racing fans, family, friends and sponsors.
“I would like to thank all the fans who support me through my good runs and my bad runs. We have had a lot of success, but also a lot of times we would like to forget about,” Moreland laughs. “I would also like thank everyone throughout the years who have bought my racing apparel and supported our race team.”
In addition to the Elkins Raceway fans, Moreland would like to thank his loved ones, pit crew and fellow drivers for their ongoing efforts.
“I would like to thank my parents Duane and Tina Moreland; without them, I wouldn’t have a racecar or be where I am today,” Moreland said.
When asked who his biggest influence, Moreland said the choice was easy.
“My biggest influence to race is easy, my Dad,” he said. “If it wasn’t for my father, I wouldn’t be competitive or even have a racecar to begin with. He hung up the helmet in the prime of his racing career to let me start mine, and for that, I will be forever grateful. Not only does he help me, but he helps several guys at the track, because his knowledge on these race cars is second to none.”
Moreland would like to express his gratitude to his fiancé, Abigail Poling, for her continued support of his racing and “the rollercoaster that comes with it;” his pit crew members Chris Tenney and Rodney Biller; and a special thank you to Dusty Harper and Daniel Helmick for their assistance in keeping the Moreland Racing Team on the dirt.
Michael would also like to thank all current and former sponsors: Tim Leggett of Leggett Motorsports, Hulls Contracting, Joseph Dean of Fisher Auto Parts of Buckhannon, Jim Wagner of Wagner’s Services, H&H Housewashing, Don & Joyce Mitchell of Tools, Etc., Forever Snapshots, Moore Bros Hardware, Rick’s Hot Rod Garage, Slicker Graphics, All About the Details, BKP Art, and any previous sponsors of the Moreland Racing Team.
Looking ahead at the future of his racing team, Moreland hopes to continue racing at tracks across the region, but knows that success will not come easily.
“Racing is my passion; it’s all I think about,” Moreland said. “Racing can be frustrating when things don’t go your way, and trust me they won’t sometimes, but you just have to persevere and keep your nose to the grindstone and race anyway. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t involved in racing; it keeps me halfway sane.”