Joshua Clemons takes the wheel

This article is the latest in a series featuring Harding student entrepreneurs.


Joshua Clemons of Newport News, Virginia, literally carries with him a symbol of his most defining trait: His hobby is cars; his passion is cars; his side hustle is cars. He’s a senior management major who’d like to find his future in the automotive sector. Even if you don’t know him personally, you may know who he is; he’s the guy carrying the steering wheel.

Why the wheel? “In Formula One racing, because of the way the seat is bolted into the car and because of the roll cage, it’s difficult for a driver to get out in an emergency or in the pits, so the steering wheel is designed to be removable. My car has racing seats, so my steering wheel is removable.”


He laughs. “It may seem a little weird, but it also gives me an opening to offer people a business card when they ask about it, and to explain what I can do for them. Plus, it’s harder to steal a car with no steering wheel.”

Clemons talks about cars the way some people talk about baseball. He doesn’t just discuss them — he obsesses over them. The design, the engineering specs, the statistics. One minute he speaks romantically and philosophically about a car — the next, he’s disdainful of some design characteristic he thinks was an unfortunate miss. He’s a car analyst, and his niche area of expertise is the Toyota Celica.


1991 MK3 Toyota Supra Clemons owned in high school

He currently owns a 2001 Toyota Celica GTS and a 1977 Toyota Celica GT Liftback. He smiles. “It’s the first and last generation Celica. I call them the Alpha and Omega.”

Cars helped cement a special bond with his grandfather, Harding alumnus Kenneth Noland of Newport News, Virginia, whom he calls Grand Ken. “If I hadn’t fallen in love with cars, I don’t think we would have the relationship that we have today. As it is, he’s one of the few people in my family I can actually talk about more complex car issues with.”

“Grand Ken acquired an emerald green ’65 Mustang GT Fastback when I was a kid. He bought it for $2,100 bucks with no doors, not running. He intended to flip it, but once he heard the engine run, he decided to completely restore it. It’s in beautiful condition now.” The Mustang has some multi-generational family history. “My Dad went to New Jersey to ask my mom to marry him. On that same trip, he and Grand Ken went to a parts swap to buy these rare GT wheels for the Mustang.” Clemons and Grand Ken worked on cars together as he grew up.


Clemons and the 1965 Mustang Fastback belonging to his grandfather, Kenneth Noland.

“When I was in high school, I’d help him flip cars. I guess one thing I learned from Grand Ken is there are things you can be really passionate about and really good at. That you can combine work and hobby. Over the years, Grand Ken has bought and sold many cars. He can do tons of work himself, and he has a guy who helps with what he can’t do.”

Clemons’ current ride, a 2001 Toyota Celica GTS 6-speed, was his first car. It looks nothing like it did when they bought it — and of course, there’s the magenta steering wheel you can frequently find beside his desk when he’s in class.



The before and after of Clemons’s 2001 Toyota Celica GTS.


With so much effort into tuning his car, is Clemons one of those car owners who park diagonally, hogging multiple spaces in the Walmart parking lot? He says absolutely not. He does have favored parking spots on campus, which we discussed at length, but we’re not telling.

“Sure, I’m pretty careful where I park it, but my car’s FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) approved, and after June 2 it will be pretty much a full-time race car.” So maybe it makes sense that he’s not quite so worried about a potential ding in the door.

He has a goal to begin racing in the GridLife Street Modified class. “This class is for vehicles that are street driven. If you go up to the next tier, the vehicles don’t have to be street legal. Gridlife racing is all across the East Coast — events in Richmond are held at Dominion Speedway. I’m part of an unofficial racing team of friends I’d like to see compete eventually.”


Dr. Mark Farley and Clemons discuss the parts that just arrived for some repair work on one of the Farley family vehicles.

While at Harding, however, he concentrates on whatever his local customer wants. “I’ll fix your hybrid, build you a race car, or anything I can do for you without a lift. Just this weekend I replaced a side mirror and straightened a door out for someone who had hit a deer. I do stereos and speakers. I’m doing a full build on a friend’s car: exhaust, wheels, suspension, front bumper, interior.”

“Tuning” is car speak for the modification of a vehicle for appearance or performance. “In the tuner world, you can either do show modifications or track modifications. My car is a track car. The modifications I’m doing to my friend’s car are purely aesthetic upgrades.”

So how does he eventually want to make his hobby pay? “My goal is to someday be able to combine my mechanical understanding with my business degree and perhaps eventually be a project manager for a car company. I think being able to talk technical to engineers as well as understanding the business implications would be a good combination. My absolute dream job would be to be on a product development team rolling out the next Toyota Celica.”


Clemons uses the Waldron Center’s 3D printer to make a delta-wing vortex generator for his car.

Clemons knows the dream job is some distance in the future and would consider any opportunity to get his foot in the door. The holy grail may be Toyota, but “Subaru’s headquarters is in Michigan, and Toyota owns 25 percent of Subaru, so there’s a connection there.” Or there might be opportunities at Ford, of course, in Dearborn, Michigan.

Clemons’ car interest will follow him everywhere, much as the steering wheel does these days. He returns to his automotive Zen vibe. “Cars are about much more than just getting from A to B. They’re about the journey.”

If you need repair or performance upgrade work done on your vehicle, you may contact Joshua Clemons at

If you are a student who is running a business while in school, the Waldron Center would like to hear from you too. Contact Patti Summers at









Dalton Drye Combines Academics with Practical Operations Experience at Searcy’s Oasis

The Waldron Center is fascinated by entrepreneurial journeys. Some people are gifted with a clear vision from the very beginning—a business idea that animates everything they do—but that’s rare.  It’s interesting to hear how the interplay of personality and circumstance drives entrepreneurship. Our previous student entrepreneurs have all been from places far removed from Arkansas. This week, we continue our series by talking with a hometown boy. 

Oasis Wash and Drye is a state-of-the-art car wash located at 700 E. Beebe Capps Expressway

Accounting major Dalton Drye is rooted in Searcy. He’s familiar with the business landscape here, easily identifying who owns various businesses and commenting on where there might be opportunity. And he knows a lot of people. He comes from an entrepreneurial family, and has the enviable advantage of some excellent personal mentoring. One thing is apparent from talking with him: Drye lays it all on the table. There is no hint of pretension; no attempt to artificially impress. He’s getting his education, and he’s got some goals, and he’s working hard and moving forward. 

img_4406-1After graduating from Harding Academy, Drye enrolled in the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He did Greek life with enthusiasm, but academics a little less so. He joined a fraternity and learned some useful lessons about poise and self-assurance and meeting people, but eventually decided to return to Searcy and enroll at Harding. 

Although he wants to gain broader experience in business, Drye has never envisioned being completely dependent on the corporate world for his future economic security. He once had a dream of opening a quality gun shop and shooting range in Conway. His grandfather, Charlie Adcock, offered an alternative: Adcock was considering opening a new car wash and was agreeable to let Drye help run it to get some experience in business operations. The result was Oasis Car Wash and Drye.

Adcock, a serial entrepreneur, was orphaned at an early age. He joined the Air Force. After retirement, he assembled a commercial career by starting a series of local businesses, building on skills he developed in the military. “He’s just business savvy,” Drye said, with obvious admiration. Adcock saw some of himself in his grandson, and was willing to work with him on the new venture.

Oasis opened last April on a parcel of high-traffic real estate on Beebe-Capps Expressway, a stone’s throw from the Harding Campus. It’s hardly the small town single-bay self wash you might imagine. The new owners did their research. Adcock and Drye were impressed with the Oasis car wash technology they saw on a site visit to the manufacturing plant in Galena, Kansas. They ordered premier touchless equipment for their future location, which also features multiple self-wash stalls and vacuums, as well as a dog wash. Heated bays allow it to remain “open 24/7/365.” They arranged to use the Oasis name and logo for the new facility.

 Drye covers almost full-time hours at Oasis most weeks; combined with his classes, it’s not unusual for him to work 80 hours in a single week. Right now, the staff consists of Adcock; another manager, who has mechanical and maintenance expertise; and Drye, who performs general operations functions and is the technology guy. “If it has electronics, that’s me. The kiosks or the bays go down because of electrical issues and so forth — that’s mine to solve.” He takes all the after-hours calls when something goes wrong. Drye is building equity in the business with every hour he puts in, whether in classes or at Oasis. His current situation is demanding and challenging, but he’s learning important lessons.

Drye always has his eye open for future opportunity. He’s engaged to Kelly Gordon, a student in Harding’s graduate Professional Counseling program. “She wants to eventually have a private practice in mental health. We’ll eventually do that. We’ll have the car wash.  I might be interested in real estate. We’ll see.” He’s always considering  ventures that might someday create a revenue stream. 

How does he evaluate himself these days?  “Well, I can handle myself better in time crunches now, and I know I have to prioritize. I’m not a 4.0 student, but if you have been involved in a number of other valuable things, that gives balance to your GPA on a resume.” He believes his practical experience in problem-solving in a business environment is something that can’t easily be duplicated in a classroom, and we agree. One of his teachers remarked that it was apparent Drye sometimes processed classroom content in a way that would be impossible for a student who hadn’t worked so closely in a business.

He’s also learning some valuable things about himself. “I used be a little hot-tempered, maybe quick to pop off.” He smiles. “But when you own a business, you have to learn to control that. I think I’ve improved. My grandfather once told me, ‘That’s one of those things you are going to have to learn.’ The other day he said, ‘You’ve changed. You’ve handled some situations that I could not have handled as well.’ ” Drye is satisfied that his early experience in small business is shaping him in ways that will make him a better employee and manager in the future, regardless of the venue. “When customers show up, you have to be ready to put a smile on your face and be professional.” 

He can be a self-described stressmonger; he’s taken very few days off since the car wash opened. And he acknowledges that working nonstop can have unintended consequences, a common concern among entrepreneurs. He’s mulling over the realities of the entrepreneurial path and what will be required of him someday as a husband and father.

One thing he knows: He wants to pass along the most valuable part of what he is learning to his children someday. “I want my kids to be able to do cheer, football, whatever activities they want. But regardless of what I may have financially someday, I will want my kids to learn to have a good work ethic. They need to learn to work hard — even when it’s no longer fun — and not to quit when the going gets tough.” Good advice. 

For now, Drye’s working 24/7/365. We wish him luck. 

You can meet Dalton Drye and get a an excellent car wash at Oasis Car Wash and Drye, 700 E. Beebe Capps Expressway.  Follow them on Facebook @oasiscarwashanddrye and on Instagram @oasis_carwash_and_drye.

If you are a Harding student running a business, the Waldron Center would like to hear from you, too.  Email Patti Summers