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Dalton Dowdy Making Return Visit to Familiar Ground

Dalton Dowdy Making Return Visit to Familiar Ground

MARION, Ill. — The excitement in Dalton Dowdy’s voice is apparent as the 16-year-old Newsome Raceway Parts Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series regular reveals his next adventure behind the wheel of a race car. He’s right now in the midst of competing in the prestigious High Banks Hustle on June 15-17, 2023, at Southern Illinois Raceway in Marion, Ill., a tiny eighth-mile oval where he actually started his racing career.

It’s a repeat adventure considering the teenager’s past prowess in Micro-Sprint-type racing, where he won races and track championships at the facility before making the move to full-bodied race cars a couple of seasons ago. There has been a learning curve and many struggles during his early events in his competition forays with Chevrolet Performance 604-equipped machines, all while working closely with his cousin Mark Dowdy’s racing team.

The young man is steadily gaining experience and improving from race to race in full-fendered competition, but has not yet fully shown the youthful brilliance that emerged during his earlier days behind the steering wheel of Micro-Sprint-type machines.

“It’s where I started racing,” Dowdy said. “That was ’17, and I started in the Junior Sprint division. We moved to real Micro-Sprint-type cars in ’19, and won 11 races in the Restrictor division and the track championship. During the ’20 season we raced in the Class-A division, and won six races, while winning another track championship.”

The success pointed him towards 604 Late Models, and he’s been learning the ropes in that division while driving what was essentially considered a team car in the operation, with Jason Markewitz as the primary driver in the organization. Dowdy recently elected to park his car after a long streak of inconsistency that carried more than its share of bad luck, and has placed his equipment for sale on his personal social media channels. Young Dowdy’s racing career will reportedly continue to blossom.

You can call his appearance at Southern Illinois Raceway as a re-blossoming, considering his past success at the track.

“There was 107 cars registered in advance this weekend already, and it’s a three-day event that will only allow 24 cars in the A-main,” Dowdy said. “It’s a really huge event for these cars, and the best drivers are all there. I’m pretty excited about getting a chance to be here, and would be even more excited to make the show.”

Dowdy almost did that one year and was holding a transfer spot and well on his way to the A-main from a preliminary event, and his opportunity drifted away in fumes when he ran out of fuel.

He jokingly blames his father Dale for “running me out of the show.” The elder Dowdy, who works full time as a career firefighter, was responsible for fueling his son’s car, and his calculations came up just short due to a multitude of unexpected caution flags that extended the race.

“I’m calling this my revenge race because of what happened that year,” the younger Dowdy said. “Ole’ Dad ran me out of fuel, so now I just wanna go back there and get back in the A-main.”

His father works closely with the youngster at each event as they travel with the Adam Stewart-managed touring series for full-bodied machines. It’s been a learning process from the start, but there has been improvement.

“Last year the first couple races I really struggled making adjustments from Micro-Sprints to the dirt Late Model-type cars, but I felt like I was able to more steadily get used to it through the season,” Dowdy said. “The power-to-weight ratio is a lot different between the two types of cars, and that was an adjustment that took me some time. It’s been a big step up for Dad and me, and we’ve had to learn it together.”

The process continues, and this year has been a noticeable step in the right direction as the young man steadily learns his craft.

“We try to watch a lot of videos to learn, and when we started in Late Models, we basically had to start writing down a whole different notebook than we had with the Micro-Sprint stuff,” Dowdy said. “Everything we had to do was different, and you have to start keeping notes all over again to keep improving from week to week. I feel like from last year to this year, we’ve made a lot of progress. You have to hit the right setups perfect, and sure we’ve had some good days and some bad days. Sprint Cars have a lot less weight, and I’ve had to get used to that adjustment.”

Veteran drivers have done their part to assist, giving advice and tips to Dowdy along the path from race to race and track to track, many of them facilities that Dowdy had never previously seen—let along turned laps on them.

“Outside of my own teammate [Jason Markewitz], some of the other guys have helped me frequently,” Dowdy said. “Jason Welshan has given me some tips, and Jake Knowles has been willing to help, and there’s others who have offered or talked to me and explained things, and especially last year when we hadn’t seen many of the racetracks. This year we’re going back to places we’ve now seen, and that’s helping. I feel like we’ve made progress.”

For now, it’s a return to familiar territory, if only for one giant weekend. He’s wheeling a Driven Performance-chassied, Yamaha Motors-powered machine that carries sponsorship from Guhl Motors, CSI Shocks, Alabama Cabinet Inc., FK Rod Ends, Fragile Performance Systems and Big Wave Trucking.

“We’re also gonna make sure we put Crate Racin’ USA on the car somewhere,” Dowdy said. “I really feel good about this race. It’s going to be like going back home for me in a way. This is a big race, and you can’t make no mistakes because it’s a very small racetrack and you’re always in traffic. You can’t get too cocky out there because it’s easy to get into trouble, but I’m confident about our chances. The first thing you gotta do is make the race, because there’s so many cars there every year. We’ll give ‘er all she’s got, and see what happens.”


Roger Dabbs Chevrolet

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