Final Fred Dillow Memorial ends dramatically

By Chuck Greenslate

An incredible 25-year run came to an end in dramatic fashion Saturday night at Portsmouth Raceway Park where a season-best 122 race teams filled the pit area, as the Dillow Family presented the 25th and final Fred Dillow Memorial.

“The Flyin Fred Finale” made many drivers winners in various ways, but claiming the feature victories Saturday were Late Model driver Steve Casebolt, Modified racer Austin Francis, Limited Late Model ace Billy “The Rosemount Rocket” Staker, and Sport Mod regular Luke Jordan.

This race began back in 1995 as a way to honor former Late Model driver Fred Dillow from Coal Grove whose life was cut short due to a bout with cancer. Since that first FDM held at Southern Ohio Speedway in Wheelersburg, the race has been a signature event highly anticipated each year by local dirt-track drivers and fans alike. With its increased payouts, prizes, and random bonuses the Fred Dillow Memorial had the ability to provide a financial gain to anyone, not just the drivers finishing at the front of the field.

The Dillow Family decided 2019 would be a good time to finally wave the checkered flag on an event that has given so much to so many for so long. Fred sported Number 83 for most of his racing career and that number has been interwoven into the Dillow Memorial since its inception often with bonus earnings being or ending with that figure. Ironically, if Fred were alive today, he would be 83 years old.

Fred’s children Sherri Willis, Susan Dillow, and Steve Dillow have worked diligently over the last 25 years along with their mother Edna and other members of the family to acquire sponsorship money for the race. They would always put every dollar right back into the purse and gave away all donated prizes to either drivers or fans. The last hoorah for The Fred Dillow Memorial saw the family obtain a record 134 sponsors, as over $50,000 in cash and prizes was collected.

Besides all the cars and winnings, there was some awesome racing as well. A lot of side-by-side action took place throughout the evening, especially mid-pack in all classes.

In the Giovanni’s Pizza Late Model Division, Steve Casebolt was dominant in the BWC Trucking 40-lap Feature. He led every lap. Casebolt built a rather sizeable lead early. R.J. Conley, who was running second up until having mechanical issues on lap 23, would chase Casebolt down, but then Casebolt would begin to pull away again and would never be seriously challenged.

Despite a few late restarts, no one had anything for this year’s Boone Coleman Memorial “Gator 50” winner. The Richmond, IN driver captured his third PRP win of the season holding off Columbus, IN racer Devin Gilpin for the victory. Brandon Fouts, Rod Conley, and Dustin Linville rounded out the top five. Delmas Conley climbed 11 spots to move from 17th to sixth. Mark Frazier, Kenny Christy, Walker Arthur, and Audie Swartz rounded out the top 10.

Forest, VA’s Walker Arthur claimed $1,077 for setting fast time in Bozo’s “Just Give Me One Lap” Late Model Time Trials, an event done in honor of the late Bozo Bragdon, who was the brother and crew chief of longtime Late Model driver Barry Bragdon. Dustin Linville claimed the Sparky’s Pork Rinds “If You Ain’t First You’re Last” Award which was given to the second fastest qualifier. Kenny Christy earned a bonus from Bocook’s Garage for being the seventh fastest qualifier.

Besides winning the feature, Casebolt also won Sgt. Tim Moore’s Late Model Dash. He earned a bonus from Perry Racing for leading the first lap of the feature and claimed The Ryan P-Funk Potter Late Model Halfway Leader Award. On the night, Casebolt collected $7,449 and for winning the A-Main earned a provisional starting spot in this Labor Day Weekend’s Hillbilly Hundred at Tyler County Speedway.

Rod Conley and Audie Swartz were the Late Model Heat Race winners. Winning the C103 Dirt Racing Tour B-Main was 77-year-old Delmas Conley. For climbing up 11 spots in the feature, Conley, who helped start the Dillow Memorial back in 1995, was The Shain Custom Decals, Motorsports Graphics, & Designs Late Model Hard Charger.

Linville won The Impact Race Gear “Move of the Race”. Swartz picked up a bonus for running 10th on lap 33. Larry Martin got The Diamond Cut Lawn Care Tough Break Award. Brent Cornett won a gift certificate from Josh McGuire with JMR Chassis & Consulting as well as $100 from Dowdy Trucking for being the driver to finish in the first non-transfer spot in the B-Main. The Chasin Racin Best Appearing Late Model Award in Memory Jim Morgan went to Dustin Linville.

In the R.W. Rental & Supplies Modifieds, Austin Francis from Prestonsburg, KY claimed just his second ever Modified Feature win and first ever at PRP. Francis held off Craig Christian to win the Slicker Graphics/Tri-State Industrial Supply Modified A-Main. Adam Stricker, Nathon Lone, Jeremy Rayburn, Michael Howard, Kenny Johnson, Brayden Berry, Justin Jacobs, and Eddie Carrier Jr rounded out the top 10.

Francis was The Ryan P-Funk Potter Halfway Leader. Kenny Johnson was The Walker Construction in Memory of Linda Walker Modified Hard Charger. He came up seven spots in the feature. Tommy McClain garnered The Whitley, Gahm, & Rayburn CPAs Tough Break Award.

Pappy Harshbarger Modified Heat Race winners were K.C. Burdette, Austin Francis, Adam Stricker, Eddie Carrier Jr, and Craig Christian. Dynamic Shock Service Modified B-Main winners included Mark Dickson, Seth Daniels, and Doug Adkins. Parkersburg, WV’s K.C. Burdette set quick time in The Dickess Christmas Tree Farm Modified Time Trials.

Brian Whiteman won a gift certificate from Josh McGuire with JMR Chassis & Consulting for finishing in the first non-transfer spot in the first Modified B-Main. Austin Francis earned The Chasin Racin Best Appearing Modified Award in Memory Jim Morgan.

In the O’Reilly Auto Parts Limited Late Models, Portsmouth’s Billy Staker won his seventh race of the year in taking the Giovanni’s Wholesale Limited Late Model A-Main.

It didn’t look like he was going to do it for the longest time. He started second and ran there for the first 12 laps. He would fall back to third before mounting his comeback. Staker retook second place on lap 15 and grabbed the lead with three to go. Making up the rest of the top 10 behind Staker were Joe Brewer, Jim Couch, Mike Meyers, Dakota Pennington, Alan Salisbury, Cody Walker, Larry Holbrook, Vincent Bender, and Lane Meredith.

Brewer was the Staker Machine & Fabrication Halfway Leader in the feature, as well as the lap 15 leader, which earned him a bonus in memory of Timmy Hunt. Larry Holbrook was The Bradley’s Racing Apparel Hard Charger. Kent Keyser got a gift certificate from Josh McGuire with JMR Chassis & Consulting for being the last car on the lead lap at the A-Main’s end. Jim Couch received a bonus from Sinking Creek Kennels for being the highest finishing Crate Late Model. The Ross & Ross Racing Fabrication/Bob Ross Motorsports Tough Break Award went to Kevin Terry.

The Ideal Wheels Limited Late Model Heats were won by Brewer and Staker. Couch won The Ross & Ross Racing Fabrication/Bob Ross Motorsports Best Appearing Limited Late Model Award.

In the EMC2 Party Rentals & Inflatables Sport Mods, South Webster’s Luke Jordan was the winner in the B & B Recycling A-Main. Derek Richmond, Jason Spillman, Cody Gifford, Danny Hamilton Jr, Mikey Howard, Zack Pendleton, Jimmy Adams, Stevie D. Thornsberry, and Derek Spencer completed the top 10.

Jordan was The Richmond’s Affordable Lawn Care Halfway Leader. Junior Spillman received a bonus from Chris Chaney for being the last car running in the A-Main. Jeremy Brady received The Jordan Heating & Air/Myron Shaffer Hard Charger Award. Joe McClain picked up The Yeley Builders Tough Break Award.

The Call’s Auto Sales Sport Mod Heat Races were won by Luke Jordan, Casey Jones, and Joe McClain. Derek Richmond received a Valvoline Gift Pack for being the eighth Sport Mod driver to sign in. Casey Jones got the same for being the third driver to register. The Muddy River Campground Best Appearing Sport Mod went to Stevie D. Thornsberry.

The Long Haul Award went to Late Model driver Walker Arthur, who drove five and a half hours from Virginia to race at PRP. He received $100 from Denny Trickett, $83 from Ryan McGraw, and a $50 gas card from Pro Star Designs. The Mark’s Photos Best Photo Finish Award of $100 went to Modified A-Main runner-up Craig Christian who finished .468 seconds behind winner Austin Francis.

PRP’s next race will be this coming Saturday, August 24th. The Ohio Pest Control 305 Winged Sprint Cars will be on the scene racing for $3,000 to win. Also on the card will be Late Models, Modifieds, Limited Lates, and Sport Mods. Gates will open at 4 p.m. with racing at approximately 7:30.

By Chuck Greenslate