Mark Noble – Driver

By Chad Meyer

Mark Noble’s goal in life was simple. He clearly remembers that, “All I ever wanted to do was race.” He started in 1973, pulling a 1957 Chevy racecar that was in his father’s salvage yard into the garage. “My dad pushed back, he didn’t want me to race initially. But when I started working on the ’57 he told me we were doing it all wrong and told me to bring it into town so he could help,” Noble remembers.

“My dad was the most influential person in my career,” he said. “All I wanted was to be as good as he was.”

Noble’s first race was at Morristown, MN, a track long since defunct, with the ’57 Chevy. He recalls starting 24th in the B-main and winning it. Noble later finished fourth in the main event.

Chateau Speedway in Lansing, MN holds a special place in Noble’s heart. On his second night out, we won the feature there. Years later, Chateau was the site of his 600th victory.

Noble has raced everything from hobby to street stocks and late models, including a stint in asphalt late models to big rigs in 2018. It was in the modifieds, that he made himself a household name.

“It was 1985 when I bought my first modified, one built be Lou Fegers. It was pretty stock at the time and cost me $685. I got a $500 sponsor to help pay for it,” he recalls.

“My first race at Algona was in 1990 and I finished second to Denny Hovinga. We were pushing, shoving and rubbing,” he laughed. “We started going to Algona because they paid more money than Chateau did on Saturdays. It was an  easy place to race at because everyone made us feel so welcome and it was very racy.”

Noble says that his favorite tracks were Chateau and Algona, plus the big tracks such as Fairmont, Jackson and Denison.

He started racing weekly at Denison, Iowa in 1999 under the NASCAR sanction, finishing second in points. In 2000, he continued running there weekly, chasing the NASCAR Short Track Series points.

“The track paid $400 to win and it was four hours there. But the track championship paid $7,000, the region $40,000. If you won the national title, it paid $150,000. That got our attention.”

Though he won 18 of the 22 features at Denison that year, he fell out of two events, which cost him a chance at the region title. “Joe Kosiski beat me by a very small margin. I still won $20,000 for second, though.”

He made his name equally in both the IMCA and USMTS/USRA sanctions. He earned his 100th IMCA win at the Hancock County Speedway in Britt June 5, 1998 and to date has 113 victories in IMCA, tied for 40th all-time. He is a 15-time qualifier at the IMCA Super Nationals, earning championships in 1988, 1994 and 1997. Noble also has runner-up finishes in 1987, 1992, 1993 and 2000.

“My first Super Nationals I won the second-night qualifier and in the main event the track dried out and came to me,” Noble remembers. His second win, he showed the flair for the dramatic. “We had a great car on the first night. I was up front, but had trouble and had to go to the back. I raced back to eighth, but thought I finished ninth.”

It was what happened next that built the legend of Mark Noble. “I pulled off the track thinking I was ninth. Everyone yelled at me to go to tech, but I was so made I told them to pull my qualifying spot.”

The next day he drew last in his heat. It didn’t matter as he went on to win the heat and the qualifier, before besting the field in the Saturday championship.

Noble has nine IMCA track championships, earning the first two in 1986 at Chateau Speedway in Lansing, MN and Fairmont Raceway. In 1987, he became just the second driver to post four track championships in one season, capturing them at Fairmont, I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Independence, Iowa, Speedway and at Raceway Park, Shakopee, MN. He is credited with track titles at Jackson, MN, Speedway – 1988, Fairmont – 1991, and at the Cresco, Iowa, Speedway in 1994.

Other notable wins include the 1996 Harris Clash at the Knoxville Raceway, the first year held at that track.

Noble’s career stats are impressive and this list is far from inclusive. He posted what is his first win at the Kossuth County Speedway in September 1990 during the Fall Fling Nationals. He stayed hot at Algona the next season, earning the season opener, plus seven more features. Other notable 1991 victories included the Kossuth County Fair, season championship night and the Labor Day special.

He won both nights of the Wetherell Frostbusters to open 1992, plus Race Days and the Mid-Season Championship. Noble was crowned the overall point champion the same year. Other big wins at Algona include the Fall Nationals in 1993 and the Schattschneider Memorial in 2001. His last win in Algona occurred May 25, 2013, bringing his total to at least 23 wins at the track.

A couple of his fondest memories are races that are not included above. “I had a hobby stock, but wanted to race with the late models at Owatonna. I put big tires on and put in my dad’s big block. The feeling of driving past my heroes to finish second that night was amazing,” Noble remembers fondly.

Later he was driving a late model for Bill Moyer, Sr. “I passed Todd Cooney for the lead in Des Moines and was going to win until the battery shorted out. The next week, we won an IMCA late model show in Memphis, MO. That was an amazing feeling running that level of equipment.”