Fred Dillow was a race car driver — but more importantly he was a family man and a decent person, said Portsmouth Raceway Park co-promoter Chuck Greenslate.
Though he died of leukemia in 1990, his memory is alive and well — evidenced by the large crowd and high car count that turned out at Portsmouth Raceway Park on Saturday for the 15th Annual Fred Dillow Memorial.
The event, in part, gives back to racers with various bonuses being handed out at random.
The highest pay out of the night though went to Eddie Carrier Jr. who won his fourth Dillow Memorial late model feature for a $3,000 win.
"I was really wanting this one bad tonight because I think I'd be the only four time winner," Carrier said. "I know it might not be the biggest paying race but it's a big race for us here in the Ohio valley. My dad raced with Fred and I remember me and his boy playing in the stands up in Zainesville. That's one of my first memories of this."
Carrier took the lead on lap 17 after passing Zach Dohm. Dohm was driving the No. 17 car, the very same one that his father Tim drove to win the PRP MAC Series race Aug. 1. Carrier tried to pass Tim Dohm on that night but ended up slamming the wall on the front stretch.
The scariest moment of the feature occurred on turn one early in the race as John Melvin hit a rut and flipped his car multiple times to bring out the night's second red flag.
Earlier in the evening Steve Wagner slammed his late model into the wall near turn three. Both drivers appeared to be alright.
Jackie Boggs finished third in the feature but came back to dominate in the late model 15-lap shootout held after the modified feature.
In the modified division Greg Thompson earned his first win at PRP by taking a high line around lap 12 and battling his way to the front by lap 14. Tony Dehart was second and Doug Adkins finished third.
In the limited late model feature John Melvin returned from his earlier wreck and started at the tail but by lap eight he was hot on race leader Jeff Stevens' tail.
Melvin challenged all night but was unable to take over.
On what appeared to be the final lap, as Melvin charged a lapped car wrecked in front of Stevens but Stevens managed to avoid a collision and get through for what seemed to be the win.
The wreck however caused a caution moments before the finish to set up a one lap shootout, giving Melvin one more chance but Stevens held on for his first PRP win this season.
"When we had that caution with one lap to go I though 'Oh my goodness,'" Stevens said. "John's a great driver."
For those fans willing to stay late into the night the bomber feature was a thriller as well.
Jeremie Bretz battled Joe McGinnis and Justin Jaynes early on.
Jaynes dropped to third but as McGinnis and Bretz fought it out, the two blew each other's tires, causing both cars to drop significantly and allowing Jaynes to win his first ever feature at PRP.
"A lot of hard work was put into this," Jaynes said. "I saw them up there beating and banging and wasn't quite sure what was going to happen. It worked out for the best."
Next week is fan appreciation night and the usual cost of $12 per adult will be cut down to only five bucks. Regular fans should enjoy the price drop for a weekend and new fans can get a chance to take in the experience of dirt track racing — and maybe even enjoy a newly available deep fried oreo.
"It's the last big weekend before Ohio high school football season gets into full swing," Greenslate said. "I think it's going to be a big one"
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org