Breanna Ringersen


Charlotte Nights: The Ballad of Dylan Lupton

Dylan Lupton, an ambitious 21-year-old college student attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte lives a double life; half student, half professional Nascar driver. Lupton is a finance major born and raised in Sacramento, Calif. Currently placing in the top 10 for almost every race this season, Lupton competes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, which is one level below the Sprint Cup division. He can be seen from miles away in his bright yellow Zaxby’s sponsored car.

Lupton decided to go to college in Charlotte, N.C., due to the proximity of the NASCAR track, Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is approximately two miles away from the university.

His passion for the sport started at the age of 13 when Dylan’s parents introduced him to go-karts and dirt bike riding. Lori Lupton, Dylan’s mother and biggest fan, could not agree more. Lupton’s mother states, “The moment Dylan got behind the wheel of that go-kart, the speed, the thrill, he was sold. All this lead to two years of go-kart racing and two championships. One in his first year in the Jim Russell Arrive and Drive division and the second in the Tag Division. Soon after that Dylan found himself behind the wheel of a full body stock car at the age of 15, where again he won another championship including ‘Rookie of the Year’ honors. He’s been climbing the racing ladder ever since.”

Both of Lupton’s parents are very supportive of his career choice and make it a priority to be at all of his races.

Dylan Lupton races around the track in his No. 25 Zaxby's Chevrolet
Dylan Lupton races around the track in his No. 25 Zaxby’s Chevrolet. Photo courtesy Tribune News Service

Lupton is currently a senior with intentions on graduating in May of 2016. With only having classes Monday through Wednesday, the pressure is on to make good grades.

Lupton is only available to take classes three days a week due to his intensive racing schedule that requires him to be in a different city or state almost every other weekend.

Thursdays are his travel days, Fridays are his testing days, and Saturdays are his racing days. Lupton says, he wishes that he could have time to study on the weekends like most college students, but would never take for granted the opportunity that lies before him.

Named “Rookie of the Year” in 2013, winning multiple championships and consistently placing in the top 10 of his division, Lupton’s success continues to only rise.

Catch Fences, an online website that covers all divisions of NASCAR, captured Lupton’s first major win in this years XFINITY Series.

The article states, “From the moment the rising star climbed aboard his No. 25 Zaxby’s Chevrolet Camaro, Lupton knew he had a car capable of a good finish.” Not only was Lupton lucky enough to pull off a win this year, he was also chosen for the “NASCAR Next” program which showcases him to be seen in the Nascar industry. Roughly 10-to-12 racers each year are chosen based on pure skill and dedication to the sport. These racers are voted on within a panel to see who is the “next big racecar driver.” It is the first program that discovered Lupton back in 2013 when he won his first major race in Washington. At the time, Lupton was just a freshman in college when all of this success was taking place.

“It took like about a week or two for everything to set in and realize that I just won my first professional NASCAR race,” Lupton said with excitement.

Nascar may seem like a seasonal sport on television, but really NASCAR is all throughout the year. The pit crews, which help repair the drivers’ cars, typically work long nights and weekends. Even though Lupton only spends 1-to-2-days in his car, the rest of the week he is busy meeting with sponsors, signing contracts, and conducting day-to-day NASCAR business.

This may seem a little overwhelming to the typical college student. Lupton enjoys the challenge and his racing goals are what keep him stabilized and focused on the future.

Starting in the NASCAR industry at such a young age, Lupton has been able to grow up and become more mature than most of his friends his age. He remembers being 16 years old and walking in to his first business meeting that discussed thousands of dollars and not realizing how much money was really a factor when making contracts.

“It has definitely made me grow up quite a bit,” says Lupton.  “… But I think it’s definitely helped me realize what it takes to be successful in the real world.” Lupton confesses that at the end of the day, win or lose, all he wants to do in life is race.

Dallas Montes, Lupton’s marketing director, has high hopes for his racing career.

Montes says, “Dylan has the potential to be one of the best drivers in his series, with being a rookie and very limited starts he has made quite the impression on team owners. He separates himself from the competition with his work ethic and ability to work towards racing while maintaining a very busy school schedule.”

Montes has had the opportunity to watch Lupton grow as a racer and also as a businessman. The two used to compete against one another in the K&N West Pro Series many years ago.

Along with being a college student and a professional NASCAR driver, Lupton travels to speak to various middle and high school students in the United States about higher education. He encourages young teenagers to go to school and to be passionate about going to college and getting a degree.

Lupton speaks about the STEM program: science, technology, engineering, and math. He discusses how it is applied in NASCAR and in real life situations. He invites the students to come out to the track to watch him race, signs autographs after his visits, and he takes pictures with any fans in the audience.