Race car driver and car are together again

Phillip Walker, of Hillsborough, holds a photo of his the Nova he raced during the early to mid-1980's. In the final race of the 1985 season, Walker wrecked the car and later sold what was left. Dwayne Smith, a friend and fellow racer, recently found Walker's No. 7 car and returned it to him.

It was a call Phillip Walker wasn’t expecting.

Wayne Smith, a friend and racer in the Vintage Sportsman Division, called and said Walker needed to come visit. 

Smith had been to an area junkyard looking for some parts for his vintage race car. The junkyard owner told Smith that he had an old racer for him to look at. Smith immediately recognized it as Walker’s old Nova race car and made a deal to buy it. Smith said he didn’t need the car, but wanted to preserve some vintage local racing history. He then contacted Walker about his surprise.

“He had found something to show me,” Walker said. “He wouldn’t tell me what it was. Diane (his wife) and I went up and saw that he had found my old Nova race car that I had raced in 1984 and 1985. I won two championships with that car, and wrecked and destroyed it during the last race of the season in 1985.”

When the couple got to Smith’s place, they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. 

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Walker said.

Walker, who owns Phillip Walker Auctions in Hillsborough, ran his first race in 1975 at an exhibition race at a dirt track in Stem, N.C.

“I was hooked after that,” Walker said.

He began seriously racing at the old Trico Speedway — now the Orange County Speedway — in Rougemont. He later branched out to Fayetteville Motor Speedway, Southern Speedway (now Ace Speedway) in Altamahaw; Rainbow Speedway in Reidsville; South Boston, Virginia Speedway; and Wake County Speedway in Raleigh through the 1983 season.

Walker would sell his dirt track racer and bought a chassis and body from another racer. He made his asphalt track debut at Orange County Speedway in 1984. 

The Nova was a solid car and a strong racer. Walker would drive it to win SS Championships at Orange County Speedway in 1984 and 1985. He led the points at South Boston in 1985 from May until the final race in October. It was during that race that the Nova was destroyed in a t-bone accident. Walker would end up finishing third in points.

He started Walker Racing Parts in 1986 to help cover racing expenses, and later the Piedmont Racing Expo & Auction.

Among his racing accomplishments, Walker won the first ever feature race at Ace Speedway when it reopened as an asphalt and NASCAR sanctioned track in June 1990. He won the Sportsman Division Track Championship that year.

He continued racing at Orange County, South Boston, Ace Speedway and East Carolina Motor Speedway in Robersonville, until retiring in 1994.

Walker said he had sold what was left of the Nova to a man in Hillsborough. The guy had replaced the frame rail and a few other components on the car. He had also installed a placeholder engine. Walker doesn’t recall the name of the man he sold the car to, but he is aware that he passed away last year.

“He had the car stored in a barn. Somehow the car ended up in the junkyard where Smith found it. I made a deal with Wayne (Smith) to get it back. I plan to restore it as time permits so I can have something to play with and carry to some racer reunions.”