TERRE HAUTE —
Every mother knows you can’t wash the smell of gasoline out of a kid’s genes.
Six-year-old Carson Dillion had his car spinning about the track of the Terre Haute Quarter Midget Association, churning dust into the air on a sunny Friday afternoon. The practice session had his father, Greg, a bit nostalgic, as he later explained his own start in racing was at the age of 5.
“Right here. Right here on this track,” the 33-year-old Terre Haute South Vigo High School teacher said as his son worked on timing.
Several generations deep, the family’s racing tradition continues with Carson’s recent string of championships and wins.
The track on South 13th Street has felt a lot of Dillion wheels over the decades, and Carson’s grandpa, Lee Dillion, recalled his own time racing modified midgets in the circuits around Charleston, Ill., Linton and Sullivan. Now 71, he got his own sons, Greg, Doug and Scott, into racing when they were about 5 years old, the earliest age allowed. Over the years, his sons have grown from the midget series to demolition trucks and just about anything else with wheels and motors, he said.
“I just always wanted to race, and we were raised poor and didn’t have the money to do it,” Lee said of his own childhood during the 1940s and 1950s. “When I got older, I decided I was going to go ahead and make it happen.”
A large red trailer emblazoned with “Dillion Racing” was parked near the track, and beneath a canopy sat four quarter midgets with “83” on their hoods. Carson’s three were red and sat beside a purple car with a picture of Minnie Mouse on the hood, which belongs to his younger sister Callista.
Carson, a Dixie Bee Elementary School student, recently set a new track record in the Terre Haute Quarter Midget Association’s “Animal Division” with a lap of 8.595 seconds.
Each lap, according to Greg, is about1⁄20 mile. Last season ended with his winning the championship in the Junior Honda and Junior Stock divisions of the 5- to 8-year-old class.
The 2012 season kicked off in February and the family hits the circuit of the Quarter Midgets of America Region 5, with stops in DuQuoin, Bunker Hill, Greenville and Springfield, all of Illinois. About 22 races remain for the summer season, Greg said.
Krissi Dillion, Carson’s mother, said her own family’s racing background goes back to her grandfather, Tom Raley, a 2011 inductee into the National Hot Rod Association Hall of Fame. Her father, John Hodge, raced dragsters.
For families who race, the camaraderie of the tracks is as much a part of the package as tool kits and timing mechanisms. Weekend races begin in the early afternoon and run through midnight, she said.
“So you spend a lot of time together,” she said of the kids’ families.
Hard-nosed competitors who trash talk from start to finish, then hug each other later, the boys and girls of the dirt bond deeply through racing and remain friends throughout their lives.
“It’s fun,” Greg said, remembering his own childhood at tracks throughout the region. “All the friends we made along the way … we still have friends from that.”
Greg insisted on a racing name for their son, who was nearly christened Cruz Dillion but for his mother’s red flagging the decision. But Cruz did wind up Carson’s middle name and has been incorporated into his car’s theme.
But racing isn’t for the faint of wallet, and Greg said a decent used car costs anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000, with top-quality machines priced closer to $6,000. Dillion Racing is sponsored by Atterson Tire, Anytime Fitness, Premiere Auto Source, as well as Carson’s grandparents and family members.
Krissi said the travel expenses do add up to an expensive hobby, but in the end it’s worth it for their family.
“We have fun, don’t we buddy,” the Chauncey Rose Middle School science teacher said, winking at Carson inside their trailer.
Carson said he loves to race, and there’s no question as to his favorite aspect.
“Winning,” he said flatly.
Meanwhile, his sister turns 41⁄2 soon, at which point she can begin practicing. At 5, she’ll begin racing herself. Bouncing around the trailer while her brother sat nearby, Callista already has her objectives in mind, and knows whom she’s out to beat.
“My bubby,” she said.
Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
6-year-old at home on the track, just like his dad and grandfather
TERRE HAUTE —
Every mother knows you can’t wash the smell of gasoline out of a kid’s genes.
Co-Op to Feed group delivering to needy
Three Terre Haute organizations are teaming up to deliver food boxes to “the neediest of needy” with specific health concerns on a monthly basis.
Field trips to take big hit next year
The Vigo County School Corp. plans to inform school staff of “deep cuts” in student field trips for the next school year, Superintendent Dan Tanoos said Friday.
Donation drive in Valley aims to send help to Oklahoma tornado victims
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ISU to stage public hearing on proposed tuition increase
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Trial date set for man accused of attacking Vigo County deputy
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Clay County sheriff warns of bank card scam
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State Police seek help with Sullivan County homicide
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District office moves north
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Day is done…
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Planning session aims to better Terre Haute
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Education funding boost won’t benefit all schools
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Park Board renames land around Memorial Stadium
Land surrounding Indiana State University’s Memorial Stadium on Terre Haute’s east side has been designated as Veterans Memorial Park, following a unanimous vote Wednesday from the Terre Haute Park Board.
Deputy suffers minor injury during incident
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Man accused of child neglect gets new trial date
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