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Today is July 6, 2022

Days of Thunder

Cole Denton Races his Dream

By Steven Ward

Days of Thunder

There’s a saying thrown around often in the world of car racing.

It’s not the car; it’s the driver.

The driver in this case is 11-year-old Nicolas “Cole” Denton of Pascagoula.


Cole is ranked No. 1 in the nation in his age division in Bandolero racing. Cole competes in the Bandit division of INEX, the international sanctioning body of the Legend Car, Bandolero, and Thunder Roadster. A Bandolero is a race car that’s bigger and more  advanced than a go-kart but smaller, slower, and half the body  size of a stock car.   

Cole wins almost all the time.

As of May 17, Cole had competed in 28 season races with 19 wins.

Cole’s father, William Denton, is a retired teacher and soccer coach from Pascagoula High School. He now serves full-time as Cole’s crew chief.

“People ask us why he wins all the time. They ask what they can do to their car to make it faster. I tell them, it’s not the car; it’s the driver,” William Denton said.

The Dentons are longtime Pascagoula residents and members of Singing River Electric.

Cole has been behind the wheel racing since he was 4 years old.

He started watching NASCAR racing on television with his dad when he was 2.

He saw the 1990 Tom Cruise racing film, “Days of Thunder” on TV for the first time when he was 3.

“I’ve probably seen that movie 40 or 50 times by now,” Cole said.

Ever since he started racing, Cole has adopted his love for the film to his racing life with his Mello Yello green, yellow, and black car and his longtime nickname at all the tracks where he races — “Cole Trickle.” That was the name of Cruise’s character in the film.

“Everyone knows him by Cole Trickle,” Cole’s mother, Tina, said.

The combination of those two events led Cole to telling his  parents he wanted to race.

William and Tina took him to watch races in nearby Mobile,  Alabama and Pensacola, Florida when he was 3 and 4.

In December 2014, Cole and his family were at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola watching the 300-lap Snowball Derby. 

“The people sitting behind us noticed how interested Cole was in the race and the cars,” William said. “They told us that Cole could start racing go-karts at 4 in Alabama.”

Cole started racing go-karts in 2015 at Sunny South Raceway in Grand Bay, Alabama. He graduated to Bandolero cars when he turned 8.

Since that time, Cole has raced on tracks all over the southeast, including the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Speedway, the Florida International Rally and Motorsport Park, and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.

Tina said she and her husband are immensely proud of Cole.

“The pride we have for Cole’s racing isn’t as much about his winnings but more about his patient, clean driving. He takes his time passing and never touches another car. He respects their equipment, as well as his own,” Tina said.

“When someone is faster, he gives them line and tries his best to catch them again. We are prideful that we have raised a respectful young man.”

Cole, who is home schooled, seems to have an innate ability  to know and feel what his car needs and part of that is utilizing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM skills.

“At every track, Cole must figure out the best, smoothest, and fastest way around the track. We have to change the setup on the car for that specific track and learn how the tires react to the surface on that track,” William said.

“Cole makes the calls as to what changes to make to his car whether it’s gears, the spring rate, tires, tire pressure, stagger, and wheelbase. All these things are about the physics of the car on the track to gain the most speed and traction. It’s a science, from the physical dimensions of the setup to the temperature and softness of the tires. Cole understands it all very well and knows how to communicate exactly what he needs and wants.”

Cole, who also loves racing scooters and flying his flight simulator, said he wants to become a NASCAR Cup Series driver and a pilot “so I can fly myself to  race tracks.”

“My favorite part of racing is learning a new track and figuring out the fastest line around the track. I like the challenge,” Cole said.

From the smells of the track to the sounds of the cars to the friendships he’s made in the circuit, Tina said Cole loves racing with all his heart.

“Racing is his dream, his passion, his everything. He is fortunate that our lifestyle allows him, at this level, to chase his dream,” Tina said. “Cole knows it takes many people to keep him in the sport and keep him competitive. His appreciation, gratefulness, and humbleness are the reasons we continue to do what we do for him.”

Tina said he is in his social element at a track, always with a smile on his face.

“But of course, he’s happiest when he’s inside his race car,” Tina said.



Winter Nationals Champion

Spring Nationals Champion

Furious Five Champion

19 wins (As of May 19)



2nd Nationally INEX Bandit Division

Mississippi State Bandit Champion

Crisp Motorsports Park Bandolero Track Champion

Crisp Motorsports Park Bandit Track Champion

Lanier Raceplex Summer Series Bandit Champion

19 wins



Mississippi State Bandit Champion

Top Dog Award Thursday Thunder AMS

8 wins



Mississippi State Bandit Champion

Sunny South Raceway Bandit Track Champion

4th overall Road Course World Championship

15 wins


For more information about Cole and his racing career or sponsorship  opportunities, visit his website at  His Facebook and Twitter accounts can be found at ColeNationRacing.

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