Bill Noble, one of the most prolific drivers in the history of the Sports Car Club of America, succumbed to a multiple-year battle with blood cancer on Tuesday. He was 69 years old.
A renowned Formula Vee engine builder and five-time FV National Champion, Noble was a bear of a man who had a gentle touch with both a torque wrench and a steering wheel. Bill came from humble origins and built a livelihood from his passion. He was instrumental in maintaining FV as one of the most popular SCCA classes. His "Engines by Noble" won countless races and an incredible 25 National Championships.
Despite competing in an extremely hard-fought class, only a handful of drivers have won more than Noble's five national championships. He was on the podium 13 times. He won the Valvoline ProVee Championship in 1994. Bill has received the Road Racing Drivers Club's Mark Donohue award and the Jerry Knapp Award from his fellow competitors at the Runoffs. In the Kansas Region there is an award named for him honoring his mechanical expertise and sportsmanship. For nearly four decades he was the mark by which you measured yourself in Formula Vee.
Bill was also an avid hunter and a first-rate marksman. He was twice runner-up for the USA Olympic Trap Shooting Team in his youth and remained very competitive in various shooting competitions throughout his life winning a world championship title in live fliers. He was avid outdoorsman and naturalist who loved to camp and fish with his family in the wild parts of North America.
At every race he ran, but especially at the Runoffs, Noble freely dispatched information and advice about everything from motors to alignment to driving technique. To quell the notion that he might be keeping the best for himself, he had a standard offer – anytime a customer wanted to trade his motor for Noble's, he would not only pull it out, he would help you put it in your car. It was not an idle boast, as it happened on more than one occasion.
Throughout his racing career, Bill always kept his family in the forefront. In the beginning, he and his step dad Harvey would go to the races together. Later, his wife Lisa became his world class crew chief and went on to join Bill at the sharp end of the Vee grid as a first rank driver, and is now on the SCCA Board of Directors.
Bill is also survived by his daughter, Dr. Jaime Gassmann, her husband, John, and a grandson, James, almost 2 years old.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter 1900 East Douglas Wichita, KS 67214 in recognition of the many volunteers who donated blood and drove the dozens of trips from Wichita to Manhattan to deliver the special blood products Bill needed.
Services will be held at the Milford, Kan., Cemetery on Saturday, Jan. 22 at 1 p.m.