An event that has captured the hearts and minds of Mid-Ohio Valley race fans will soon reach its Silver Anniversary as once again the Fred Dillow Memorial will be contested at Portsmouth Raceway Park on August 17th. And yes, the title of this text is a fore bearer of information to come, but please read on further to fully appreciate the magnitude of this special event. One of the marquee events at the popular, sprawling facility located beside the Ohio river, the Dillow Memorial has played to large crowds since 2000 after the first five events were contested at the now defunct Southern Ohio Speedway. With the approval of the family, former SOS promoter Gary Cheek and fellow competitor of Dillow, Delmas Conley, created the race in 1995 to honor the popular racer who plied his trade behind the wheel of a dirt late model for over 20 seasons at venues in OH, KY, WV and PA. Dillow was a highly respected member in the racing community, and it was quite a blow to the region when he contracted leukemia in 1989 and subsequently passed away in 1990. More will be said on this fine gentleman later in this text, but the family would like to express both their gratitude to and their sadness concerning the passing of Gary Cheek earlier this year. His vital role in beginning what has become a yearly homage to the beloved patriarch of the Dillow family has earned him a special place in their hearts, and they wish for all to continue to pray for comfort for his family as they move forward without him.
Fred Dillow was a family man above all else, but also, even at the risk of using a somewhat worn description, was a “blue-collar racer.” He tasted victory yes and raced extensively, but always at the forefront of his mind was taking care of his family. Racing was a hobby, but it earned him a degree of respect normally reserved for professionals. Dillow always fought to maintain the integrity of each racer who paid their hard-earned dollars to compete even if they were a perennial back-marker. He believed in their importance and was an advocate for them being rewarded just the same as the winners and consistent front-runners. With that precept in mind, the family that maintains Mr. Dillow’s legacy with class, headed by his widow Ms. Edna and his children Sherri, Steve and Susan, have lovingly crafted an event that maintains the importance and appreciation of ALL who participate. Through tireless efforts, each year they recruit or very graciously welcome back sponsors that allow this event to be contested with no entry fees for the racers, and no increased tickets prices for racers, crews and fans alike. Couple that with the many cash bonuses and awards that are mostly secretive until the pay window opens, and the countless promo items given away to fans and racers alike, and it is easy to see that this event is special to all parties. The formula that has worked for so long will not be strayed away from and yet another wonderful racing experience and night of emotion awaits all who attend.
Any journalist worth his or her salt knows that it is important to grab the reader’s attention early. That rule has been broken intentionally here, aside from the teaser in the title, as it was deemed important to magnify both the importance, prestige and popularity of the Fred Dillow Memorial before making a bombshell announcement. With that said, the Dillow family wishes to make that very important announcement now. After much prayer, discussion and soul-searching, the family, with great trepidation and yes, even much sadness, wishes to make it known that this will be the FINAL Fred Dillow Memorial race. This will meet with shock and disappointment from many, but the expressed desire from the family is that this not be seen as a time of sadness and regret, but as a time of reflection on the happiness and good times the event has generated for a quarter of a century. The countless hours of work and preparation have been done diligently over the years as a labor of love, but the family has deemed it is time to let the memories and the good times linger on while they step aside and allow the event to come to a glorious conclusion. Like the old song says, “Let’s go out in a blaze of glory” is the desired outlook from the Dillows themselves. Any number of clichés could be inserted here, but none would do justice to the integrity and longevity of this event. The Dillows just feel that during the year that would have seen Fred’s 83rd birthday (his racing number was 83) and the fact that it is the 25th annual race, this would be the appropriate and fitting time to close this chapter of their lives. The family has even come up with a catchy sub-title for the race. They would like for the last hoorah to be referred to as the “Flyin’ Fred Finale” hearkening back to Mr. Dillow’s racing nickname. As the shock of this announcement wears off and the days dwindle down to the actual special night anticipated, it is hoped that the thousands of fans who have patronized this race in the past will make their way back to enjoy one last memory. And for those who have heard of this race but never attended, they will make the effort to take advantage of this last chance to enjoy a race that is unique and a classic unto itself. Take it from this author who has more than 50 years invested in racing, if you think you have “seen it all” and not been a part of a Fred Dillow Memorial night at PRP, there is a little bit of magic out there that you have not experienced and I urge you to not let that opportunity pass you by.
As expected, there are countless people that have contributed to the success and stature of the Fred Dillow Memorial that need to be thanked. Space would not allow a complete list, but those who have been there for the longest tenure understandably occupy the largest part of the family’s hearts. With the utmost gratitude and love, the Dillow family would like to thank Billy Moore of Graphic Impressions who has supplied shirts for the event from the second edition of the FDM forward. Each year, a beautiful souvenir and keepsake is produced to commemorate that year’s race. The other friend and sponsor who has also been a vital part of the event is Brad Paxton from Valvoline. A huge amount of merchandise and fan giveaways each year has come from this fine gentleman and company. Also held in the highest regard are Gary Cheek and Delmas Conley, any staff members of Southern Ohio Speedway, the entire Coleman family, PRP promoter Donna Rayburn, and Portsmouth Raceway Park and all its fine staff. The dedication of these individuals and businesses has made the arduous task of getting this event organized much easier and the friendships gained from them are worth more than gold to the family. And to all the other loyal sponsors, racers and fans who have been so supportive of the race, the Dillows wish to pass along their heartfelt thanks and appreciation for 25 years of dedication.
There are so many awards, bonuses, giveaways and sponsors involved with this race, it is almost mind-boggling. For as comprehensive as list of the actual event, please see below. One specific that does bear noting is that this year, ALL the winner’s checks will be augmented by $83 in honor of Mr. Dillow’s number for racing. Thusly, the Super LM’s will be competing for $6,083 while the Open Wheel Modifieds will be gunning for $1,583, and the Limited LM’s will be in quest of $1,283 while the Sport Mods will wage war for $583. This is just another nice little touch provided to make this edition of the race many have remarked they would forego the prize money just to have this win on their resumes.
As one final reminder, there is no entry fee and Portsmouth Raceway Park does not raise the admission prices for this prestigious event. $12 general admission ages 13 & up; $5 ages 7-12; Ages 6 & under free. Pit passes $25 – all ages). Gates open at 4:00 p.m., drivers meeting 6:00 p.m., hot laps 6:30 p.m., racing at 7:30 p.m. Also note that some prizes and awards are distributed according to the order at the sign-in, so make plans to be there early and get in on the winning before the green ever drops!
Special Awards for the 25th Annual Fred Dillow Memorial – The Flyin’ Fred Finale
40 lap BWC Trucking Late Model feature $6,083 to win plus a starting provisional for Carl Short’s 51st Annual Hillbilly Hundred paying $30,000 to win!
– Ryan “P-Funk” Potter Late Model Halfway Leader Award $1,083
– Bozo’s Just Give Me One Lap Late Model Fast Time $1,077
– Shain Custom Decals, Motorsports Graphics & Designs Late Model Feature Hard Charger Award $250
– The Impact RaceGear “Move of the Race” in Memory of Rick Christy $250
– Sgt. Tim Moore Late Model Dash sponsored by Graphic Impressions $233
– Sparky’s Pork Rinds “If You Ain’t First You’re Last” Award $183 2nd fast qualifier
– Josh McGuire with JMR Chassis & Consulting $150 gift certificate for a Scale & Front End Set to the first non-transfer position in the first Late Model B-Main
– In Honor of Phil Kinker, a driver running in an undisclosed position on lap 33 will receive a $133 bonus
– C103 Dirt Racing Tour B-Main Winner Bonus $103 (if two B-Mains are needed, the two winners will split the $103 bonus)
– Dowdy Trucking $100 Bonus to first non-transfer position in 1st late model B-Main
– Diamond Cut Lawn Care Late Model Feature Tough Break Award $100
– Best Appearing Late Model Award In Memory of Jim Morgan, Chasin Racin, $83
– DirtonDirt Late Model Heats $83 to win
– Bocook’s Garage 7th Fast Qualifier $50 in Memory of Bill Bocook & Billy Bocook
– #20 Perry Racing Lap 1 Leader Late Model Feature $50
25 lap Slicker Graphics/Tri-State Industrial Supply Modified feature $1,583 to win
– Ryan “P-Funk” Potter Modified Halfway Leader Award $583
– Dickess Christmas Tree Farms Modified Fast Time Award $200
– Walker Construction Modified Feature Hard Charger Award, in Memory of Linda Walker, $200
– Josh McGuire with JMR Chassis & Consulting $150 gift certificate for a Scale & Front End Set to the first non-transfer position in the Modified B-Main
– Whitley Gahm & Rayburn CPA’s Modified Feature Tough Break Award $100
– Best Appearing Modified Award In Memory of Jim Morgan, Chasin Racin, $83
– In Memory of Pappy Harshbarger Modified Heats $83 to win
– Dynamic Shock Service B-Main Modified Winner(s) $50 Gift Certificate
*LIMITED LATE MODELS*
20 lap Giovanni’s Wholesale Limited Late Model feature $1,283 to win
– Josh McGuire with JMR Chassis & Consulting $141 bonus to the last car on the lead lap of the Limited Late Model Feature
– Bradley Racing Apparel Limited Late Model Feature Hard Charger Award $100
– Ideal Wheels Limited Late Model Heats $100 to win
– Ross & Ross Racing Fabrication/Bob Ross Motorsports Best Appearing Limited Late Model Award $83
– Staker Machine & Fabrication Limited Late Model Feature Halfway Leader Award $83
– Lap 15 Leader Limited Late Model Feature $83 Bonus in Memory of Timmy Hunt
– Ross & Ross Racing Fabrication/Bob Ross Motorsports Limited Late Model Feature Tough Break Award $83
– Sinking Creek Kennels $50 bonus to highest finishing crate late model in the limited late model feature
15 lap B & B Recycling Sport Mod feature $583 to win
– Josh McGuire with JMR Chassis & Consulting $150 gift certificate for a Scale & Front End Set to the first non-transfer position in the Sport Mod B-Main
– $125 bonus to the last place car running on the track in sport mod feature courtesy of Cris Chaney
– Jordan Heating & Air Sport Mod Hard Charger Award $100
– Richmond’s Affordable Lawn Care Halfway Leader Award $100
– Yeley Builders Sport Mod Feature Tough Break Award $100
– Muddy River Campground Sport Mod Best Appearing Car Award $83
– B & B Recycling Sport Mod Heats $83 to win
– 3rd Sport Mod driver to sign in receives a Valvoline Gift Pack
– 8th Sport Mod driver to sign in receives a Valvoline Gift Pack
*MISCELLANEOUS – Includes All Divisions*
– The Long Haul Award winner receives $100 from Denny Trickett, $83 from Ryan McGraw and a $50 gas card from Pro Star Designs (includes all divisions)
– Mark’s Photos $100 Best Photo Finish Award (shortest distance between first and second – includes features in all divisions)
– Cash and prizes are placed randomly throughout the field in ALL features on top of PRP’s regular purse.