Filed under: THE JACOBS FAMILY: A RACING DYNASTY | Tags: Bud Jacobs, Dean Jacobs, Dean Mast, Garrett Jacobs, Harve Jacobs, Ken Jacobs, Ken Jake Jacobs, Kenny Jacobs, Lee Jacobs, Mariann Jacobs, N.E. "Pete" Jacobs, Tina Heil, Wayne County Speedway
From 2003: N.E. “Pete” Jacobs was a man who loved racing. And his passion for dirt track racing was so great, and so heartfelt, that his passion lives on today through his grandsons and great-grandsons. As well as a piece of real estate known as Wayne County Speedway.
Pete Jacobs was the man who first conceptualized a race track on some farmland he owned south of Orrville, OH. Within months of his decision to construct a race track, Wayne County Speedway was in operation.
And not only was Pete the founder of the race track, he became the patriarch to a family that has now spawned three generations of racers and a family that has made racing their passion, and, in some cases, their livelihoods.
Pete Jacobs was born in Akron, OH on April 2,1903, and married Viola “Babe” Harlan on July 4,1928. They soon moved to Orrville where Pete and Babe raised two sons, Harvey and Kenneth.
Over the years Pete developed a real thirst for racing and began attending races frequently. He became a big Dean Mast fan and began following the open wheel ace, one of the Buckeye state’s best drivers. He eventually purchased a race car and hired Mast as his driver. When son Ken got out of the Army and began attending races he soon started pestering Pete to let him drive. Pete didn’t want any part of his son racing, so he declined.
Eventually, in 1961, Ken decided he was going racing one way or another and began looking for a race car to buy. He found one owned by Myron Werntz. For Christmas that year, Ken’s wife, Marriann, bought it for him.
Pete, ever the perfectionist, didn’t think Ken’s car was safe enough, and within time relented and put Ken in his car. The father-son team began running at tracks like Holmes Hilltop, Mansfield and others.
Back then purses were paid based on the front gate. Time and again the promoter at a certain track cheated the drivers until Pete couldn’t take it anymore. One night Pete confronted the chintzy promoter and told him next year there would be a race track in Wayne County that took care of the drivers, played fair and was honest.
That was late summer 1964. In late fall 1964 Pete enlisted his sons, Harve and Ken, tohelp plan and put together a group of investors. Using 20 acres of his own land across the road from his home, Pete soon had his two sons onboard as investors as well as Wellman Lehman, Gary Bossler, Bob Auten, Myron Werntz, Clyde Shoup, Stanley Huffman and Glenn Davisson.
On a warm Saturday afternoon, May 1,1965, Orrville mayor Nelson Douglas led a contingent of dignitaries and enthusiastically leaned on a shovel and tossed high the first spade of earth, marking the beginning of construction of Wayne County Speedway,Inc.
Witnessing the ceremony were original board members Pete Jacobs,President;Harve Jacobs, Vice-President; Wellman Lehman, Treasurer; and Gary Bossler, Secretary.
Opening night was June 26,1965, and the nearly 3,000 seats were packed, which prompted Pete to announce that additional grandstands would be constructed as soon as possible.
Earning the distinction of winning the first race was Eph Davis, who won the first heat and established the first track record at 21.36 in his open wheel modified sprint. The first feature event went to Myron Harris over Ken Jacobs, Eph Davis, Joe Carny, Dick Plew, Pee Wee Venables and Tom Ute.
The track experienced tremendous growth right out of the chute, both in fan and car counts. Some of the region’s biggest open wheel drivers descended on the track throughout its first season, including Dean Alexander, Royal Freed, Woody Holland, Dick Byerly, Pete Bonewit, Chuck Adams, Leroy Kendall, Jim Renner and Ed McClure. Jim Steurer claimed the first season championship.
In 1966 Pete began experimenting with running two nights a week. On Saturday nights they would run open wheel cars and on Sunday nights full bodied (Late Models) cars. The continued this practice for four years.
In the spring of 1970 Pete began experiencing declining health. On June 2 Pete passed away in Orrville. He was 67 years old. He was buried at Crown Hill Cemetary in Orrville with many, many members of the racing community in attendance.
Pete had nearly six years to nurture and establish his track the way he wanted a race track to operate. Although the bulk of the business and management was left up to Harve , Wellman Lehman and the board of directors, Pete had a vision and a concept that he lived to see realized.
Pete was a perfectionist and a detail oriented man. He was professional but had the proverbial heart of gold. One former track official told this writer that if Pete had his way, he would have let everyone in free.
Two years later, Pete’s wife, Viola “Babe” Jacobs, passed away.
The end of an era and the beginning of a new one came with Pete’s passing. The management reins were picked up by Harve and later the following year by Wellman Lehman. The board of directors added new members Rich Falk, Bill Condo, Clyde Shoup and John Malcuit.
A year after Pete’s passing the track hosted the PETE JACOBS MEMORIAL TWIN INVITATIONAL in honor of the track’s founder. This was the biggest race the track ever hosted up to that point and it offered the then unheard of (for 1971 standards) purse of $5,000 going to each of the co-headliners, Sprints & Late Models.
Harold McGilton won the 50-lap Sprint Car feature while Bob Cannon took the Late Model event. Most of the midwest’s top racers competed in the special event before a record crowd. It was a fitting tribute to the founder of the track by the fans, employees & drivers.
Pete Jacobs was a man respected….and missed!
Ken drove his father’s car, the #066, for several years, winning countless races in the open wheel machine. Ken also found himself driving other cars for owners such as Clyde Shoup, Harry Kane and Chuck Gossard.
In 1970 Ken went into Late Models and went on a tear. After winning his fourth feature in a row a bounty was placed on him at Wayne County. And if all his racing activities weren’t enough to keep him busy, Ken also worked full time as a truck driver and helped Marriann raise their seven children: Kathy, Kenny, Susan, Lola, Bud, Mary Beth and Dean. Ken continued racing until he retired in 1974.
“Racing was just something I always loved to do,” explained Ken, also known as “Jake”. “But the best I ran against regularly were Eph Davis, Jack Norris, Wimpy Yarman and Joe Carney. I preferred open wheel cars, but I won more races in the Late Models.”
In 1962, when Ken started racing, many tracks occasionally had Powder Puff races. Ken’s wife, Marriann, decided she wanted to give it a shot one night, so she approached Pete and asked about driving his car. No way!!! Pete’s attempts to discourage Ken didn’t work, but he definitely wouldn’t have any part of his daughter-in-law out on the track.
Marriann found a willing owner and she drove her first race. She eventually began winning at Holmes Hilltop and Mansfield. In 1966 Wayne County held their first Powder Puff race and Marriann finished second to Suzie Plew. Eventually Marriann would win more than she lost and often drove cars belonging to Jim Gentry, Tom Patton, Harry Kane and George Magyar.
What special memories does Marriann have of her own career? “Well, I remember competing in a demolition derby one time and two days later, I was real sore!” explained Marriann. “But the most special night was when Kenneth and I both won features the same night!”
On August 2, 1970, Ken won the Late Model feature at Wayne County and was also voted Mid-Season Sportsman of the Year by the drivers. When the Powder Puff rolled out, Marriann took command in Jim Gentry’s #14 Late Model and won handily. In 1973 she won the track’s season championship and points title. The following year she, like Ken, retired from driving.
All seven of their children literally grew up at race tracks. Throughout their youth all their children worked at Wayne County in one capacity or another, whether in the ticket booth or the concession stand or wherever else help was needed.
It wasn’t unusual to see grade school and junior high aged Kenny Jacobs in the water truck circling the track and giving it a good soaking. And it was a given that with four extremely attractive daughters (Kathy, Susan, Lola & Mary Beth), at least one would be a trophy queen. In fact, two (Susan & Mary Beth) did during the 1970s. Susan at Wayne County and Mary Beth at Lakeville Speedway. Today all the girls are married women with children.
The family’s racing talent didn’t end with Dad and Mom. In 1972, a then-17 year old Kenny Lee Jacobs, a wrestling star at Waynedale High School, pulled an old, homemade modified sprint chassis out of the weeds behind a barn on the family farm. A former car of his father’s, Kenny put the car together and began his racing career at Wayne County and Lakeville.
But age 17 wasn’t Kenny’s first time behind the wheel of a race car. One time when the track first opened, Ken let his son, Kenny, take some laps around WCS one night after the races ended. Kenny was nine years old.
As Kenny’s father explained, “I put him in and let him go. You couldn’t hardly see his head sticking up above the dashboard. He was doing pretty good, though, until my dad (Pete) happened to see who was driving. Boy! Did he ever chew me out!”
How did young Kenny’s first racing experience, at age 17, go for the future Sprint superstar? “I flipped in the first corner on the first lap of qualifying the first night I drove a racecar,” related Kenny. Things could only get better, and they did.
For the next six or so years Kenny drove for his father at area tracks. He practically owned Lakeville Speedway. In fact, one year he won 15 out of 17 races held there, winning against three of his best friends, Brad Doty, Ed Haudenschild and Jac Haudenschild. Brad and Jac started their careers a couple years after Kenny.
Kenny began branching out and running more tracks. In 1978, the first season of the World of Outlaws, he finished 18th in points. At the end of the decade the All Star Circuit of Champions was reformed and an opportunity arose for him to run the series when Ed Reno offered him a ride in his #4J. That was the birth of Kenny’s professional career.
Eventually Kenny had to decide whether to pursue racing on a fulltime basis or keep his job and race part time. With Reno’s backing, owner Butch Smith offered Kenny a full time ride in his #47. He has been a professional, full time racer ever since.
Over the years Kenny raced for many car owners, winning with all of them, including several years on the WoO tour. Some of Kenny’s more high profile rides included the Doug Howell #4, the Genessee Beer Wagon, the #29 Beefmobile for Bob Weikert, the Leon Wintermyer #1w, the Tom Wimmer #7TW, Dan Motter’s #71m, the Denny Ashworth #92, the Hughes Motorsports #94 and finally, behind the wheel of his own team, the Kenny Jacobs Motorsports #6.
Kenny’s accomplishments are numerous: all time leading All Star feature winner (86), Historical Big One winner, Williams Grove Open winner, and many, many more. He is also a former USAC Rookie of the Year for both Sprints and Champ Cars, a three time Eldora Speedway champ, and currently a multi-titled All Star points champion.
Today, Kenny, 48, is set to once again stir the Denny Ashworth owned #92. He is married to Kim and they have three children: Jennifer, Kendra and Lee. They reside in Holmesville, OH.
Gerald “Bud” Jacobs, the second son of Kenny & Marriann, started his racing career in 1980 after digging out an old race car that belonged to his grandfather. After putting the car in running condition, Bud and friend Mike Kerr used to take it across the road and run laps in it in the Wayne County Speedway parking lot. When the “racing fever” finally hit, Bud purchased a Late Model from Blaine Aber and started competing at WCS and Lakeville.
With his brother, Kenny, achieving success in Sprints, and with open wheel tradition in the family, Bud decided to give Sprints a try. During a race in early 1981, Bud received a lesson from his older brother. As Bud relates: “I was racing the old #066 Sidewinder that Kenny started in. In the heat race I must have been fiddling around, but Kenny was there watching and when I went into the pits he said, ‘when the green flag drops, stand on it!’ So, in the feature I took his advice. They dropped the green, I stood on it and hit the car in front of me who spun out. I hit him so hard I knocked the engine out of his car!”
During the next seven years Bud raced for his father as well as for car owners Ken Bodkins, Pete Smith, Tom Liedig, Ray Cordell, John Cotner, Karen Boston and Charlie Brown. Besides WCS, Bud also competed at Lakeville (where he won his first feature), Lernerville, Sharon, KC, Southern Ohio, Millstream, Muskingum County, Mercer and others.
During 1983 Bud won the points championship at Wayne County Speedway and also won the Most Improved Driver Award. That same year Bud finished second in points at Lakeville.
After discussing his career highlights, Bud remembers one stand-out night in particular. “The year Dean and I battled it out at Wayne County for first and second!” said Bud. “He just got lucky!”
Bud has lots of memories about his family’s activities in racing, especially his grandparents and parents. “I still picture Grandpa watching races and Calhoun (Glenn Davisson) watering the track. As kids Dean and I used to go over to the track the next morning and find money and whatever else we could drag home.”
“I still remember Dad winning a race and Grandpa handing him a trophy,” continued Bud. “Competitively, the thing I remember most was Dad in the #066 kicking butt. As far as my feelings go there wasn’t a better race car driver in the world than when my Dad raced.”
“Of course, Mom wasn’t so bad herself! She raced Jim Gentry’s #14 Late Model a lot. She won a bunch of races and I remember her winning quite a few in Gentry’s car, holding that checkered flag and that beautiful smile. She was probably the person who made the checker flag she was holding!”
Today, Bud, 41, has three sons: Gerald, Taylor and Ryan. He is employed as a truck driver. The return of Bud Jacobs in a Sprint Car is not out of the question.
Dean, 38, is the youngest of Ken and Marriann’s children and in recent years he has established himself as a contender, especially on the All Star Sprint circuit. His career began in 1981 after spending years watching his father and brothers race.
Early on Dean spent time on Jack Hewit’s pit crew. Dean began racing himself at Lakeville in Sprints in ’81. On the first night he raced at Lakeville he won the first race he was in, the B Main. His first career win came in 1983 when he won WCS’ Season Championship race.
He also began to travel more and began to race at tracks like Tri-City, Sharon, Lernerville and others. As he gained more experience he began to rack up wins…until bad luck intervened.
Dean was involved in an accident at Sharon Speedway and received severe burns to his leg, face and hands. After a length, and painful, recovery period, Dean resumed his career.
Over the next several years Dean got back up front and drive for a variety of car owners, including Ken Bodkins, Junior Holbrook, Pete Smith, De Genzman, John Toth, Jack Arnold, Dick Hostetler and his father.
Among just a few of Dean’s many accomplishments is the 1992 WCS Sprint points title and the 1988 USAC Rookie of the Year title. He has over 40 wins and a reputation as one of the smoothest, yet extremely aggressive racers who ride the rim.
After a couple year stint fielding his own team, the Frigidaire #1f, Dean hooked up with Denny Ashworth for most of 1998 before spending time with Junior Holbrook and other team owners. Today Dean is the driver of the Pullins Motorsports #29 team and is chasing the All Star Circuit of Champions title.
Dean and his wife, Tina, live south of Wooster, OH with their two sons, Trey and Cody. Dean doesn’t know if his sons will follow in his footsteps, but his oldest son, Cody, has become a popular fixture at race tracks all across the country for his flagging! He has a set of flags and tries to be seated behind the flagman.
Publicly, family members kid each other and give each other a hard time. But privately, they all express their respect for each other. When Ken and Marriann’s boys are asked who their heroes in racing are, they all name their father at the top of the list. When asked who they admire and respect on the track, they all name the other.
Today, Ken, 68, is a retired steel hauler and Marriann is a housewife and school bus driver for Orrville City Schools. They spend their free time with their 22 grandchildren and attend Sprint Car races all across the country. On February 21 Ken and Marriann will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
And the beat goes on……..
Another generation of Jacobs are all set to take the race tracks by storm. Garrett Jacobs, grandson of Harve Jacobs and great-grandson of Pete, started his Sprint Car career in 1999 driving the #75J owned by his grandfather, Harve. Garrett finished second in WCS Rookie of the Year points in ’99.
Kathy’s son, Pete Marthey, has expressed an interest in racing and Dean’s sons, Cody and Trey, have begun racing quarter midgets.
Kenny’s son, 20-year-old son Lee started his own Sprint Car career in 2000 by running the #2 Eagle Chassis owned by his father at Wayne County Speedway where Lee won the WCS Rookie of the Year title and won his career first feature racing with the BOSS 360 Sprint Cars. Lee currently drives for his father at regional tracks and with the All Star Circuit of Champions.
And all of this, three generations later, must make great-grandpa Pete a happy ‘ol soul!
©2003-2008 Doc Lehman/Dirt America
Filed under: Dean Alexander: 41 Years Of Winning! | Tags: Ashland Fairgrounds Raceway, Blaine Aber, Bob Wearing, Bobby Allison, Butch Hartman, Charlie Swartz, Chet Alexander, Coshocton Speedway, Danny Dean, Dean Alexander, Eph Davis, Jim Dunn, Jim Gentry, Keith Berner, Ken Jake Jacobs, Lakeville Speedway, Late Models, Mansfield Speedway, Modifieds, Olivesburg Speedway, Pennsboro Speedway, Ralph Quarterson, Rick Ferkel, Sprint Cars, Tim Richmond, Tiny Lund, Tom Jarrett, Wayne County Speedway
From 2003: There are dirt Late Model racers out there who, at age 41, wonder how many years they have left in their racing careers. That hasn’t been too much of a worry for 60-year-old grandfather Dean Alexander.
He’s raced for 42 years before calling it a day although he is still involved as a parts & chassis distributor and owner of Alexander’s Racing Bodies. And you never know when Alexander could slip the helmet on and strap in.
This story was written in 2003 during Alexander’s last active year as a racer.
It all started when a then 18-year-old Alexander climbed into an open-wheel ‘Modified’, a forerunner of today’s Sprint Cars, at Holmes Hilltop Speedway near Millersburg, OH. He had spent his younger years chasing racing with his father at the now long-closed Ashland Fairgrounds Raceway and Olivesburg Speedway.
“Back in ’62 we had one division and there were always 50-70 cars,” recalled Alexander, who resides near Orrville, OH with his wife of 42 years, Barb. “I was thrilled when I made the feature, but I sure was scared!”
Alexander continued racing at Hilltop, as well as Lakeview (now Lakeville), Mansfield and other venues. When Wayne County Speedway opened on June 26, 1965, Alexander was there. And he’s been there ever since.
Alexander raced open wheelers through most of the 1960’s. During the latter stages of the decade he began to race Late Models, as their popularity began to soar. Beginning in 1967, when Wayne County went two two nights a week, one night with open wheelers and the next with Late Models, Alexander raced in both classes each weekend. At the end of the decade when the track went back to one night per week operation, many times Alexander could be found competing in both divisions on the same night. And winning.
During this time Alexander began racking up the wins in both divisions. One night he set fast time, won the dash, heat, pursuit and feature. Before 1970 hit Alexander had established himself as one of central Ohio’s toughest dirt track competitors in any type of racecar.
During that era Alexander drove for owners like Newt Fergeson, Harry Kane, Clyde Shoup and occasionally Pete Jacobs, founder of Wayne County Speedway and father of famed Ohio 60’s racer Ken ‘Jake’ Jacobs and grandfather of currently well-known Sprint Car stars Kenny, Bud and Dean Jacobs. “Whenever Pete would get mad at Jake (Ken), he would put me in the car,” related Alexander with a knowing smile.
Soon after the start of the 1970’s Alexander began to race Late Models full time, although he competed in numerous Sprint Car events around Ohio, including many sanctioned events, until around 1975. The wins continued.
Over the years Alexander has raced with, and won against, the likes of David Pearson, Tiny Lund, Tim Richmond, Bobby Allison and Ralph Quarterson on the dirt in both Sprints and Late Models. He has raced in five different decades (and in two different centuries and two different millenniums!). And over the years he has also competed and won against dirt stars like Butch Hartman, Bob Wearing, Sr., Danny Dean, Bob Cannon, Charlie Swartz, John Mason, Brad Malcuit, Jim Dunn, Delmas Conley, Jim Gentry, Tom Jarrett, Glenn Gault, Blaine Aber and scores of others. During much of the 70’s and 80’s Alexander got around quite a bit visiting several of the states surrounding Ohio and was a regular fixture at Pennsboro during most of the 80’s.
During his career Alexander has accumulated nearly 200 wins and an incredible 16 point titles, mid-season and season championships honors. You want career consistency? Alexander has been in the top five in points 30 times at Mansfield, Lakeville, Wayne County and Coshocton.
So do any special wins really stand out when Alexander looks back on his long career?
“Every win is special,” he says. “One night over 30 years ago Joe Carney and I tied for the win in the feature and we both carried the checkered flag. But my greatest night is when my son Chet won his first feature nine years ago. I had to choke back tears.
Dean & Barb have two grown sons, Chet and Denny. Chet has had an extremely successful dirt Late Model career for nearly a decade now driving the entire time for long-time family friend, Mark Nussbaum. Chet’s oldest son, Chase, 16, serves as Grandpa’s crew chief, and is likely a third-generation racer sometime soon.
Dean Alexander and his famous #16 has raced at a wide variety of tracks over the years, including Eldora, Volusia, Pennsboro, Attica, Elkins, PPMS, Mt. Vernon, St. Clairsville, Atomic (KC), Coshocton and dozens more. He has competed in events sanctioned by NDRA, STARS, All Stars, UMP, PROS, USAC, Sunoco ALMS and MACS. He has seen the evolution of Late Models from the home-built, junkyard supplied racers through the wedge era to today’s version of dirt Late Models. And he has won in every incarnation.
And he is not without his opinions.
“I think the local tracks have to put an engine limit in their rules, like a 358,” stated Alexander. “A tire rule is good if you would limit the compounds to two choices. “What I dislike the most about racing is that the promoters will not get together and set rules to cut costs.”
In Ohio Dean Alexander means winning and history. He has legions of fans, always has, and one of his biggest fans is longtime historian, former Wayne County and Lakeville announcer, and current Race Director for the Renegade Dirt Car Series, Bret Emrick, who, like this reporter, grew up watching Alexander in action.
“Dean Alexander, man, around here in north central Ohio that name has been heard for years,” offers Emrick, with his trademark smile. “My first recollection of watching Dean race was at Lakeville Speedway when I was a kid. Dean, Jim Gentry, Lloyd Wirt, Danny Dean…. those guys were tough! I must admit I was a Gentry fan as a kid so I was always disappointed when the #16 (Alexander) finished ahead of the #14 (Gentry) (laughs)!”
“Back in the 60’s at Lakeville the crowd was either Dean Alexander fans or Jim Gentry fans. Sure, there were Danny Dean and Lloyd Wirt fans but Dean and Jim were the two favorites. And, those two had some classic battles!”
“I really never knew Dean until I started to do the announcing at Lakeville and then later on at Buckeye Speedway, now Wayne County Speedway. And, you know what. After meeting Dean and getting to know him the mental image I had of Dean as a kid was quickly erased. Being a Gentry fan as a kid I always thought Dean was the one with the ‘black hat’. You know, the bad guy. But, I can honestly say Dean is a great human being!”
“Sure, he wasn’t afraid to mix it up every now and then on the track. But, you had to give him his due. The man was one of the best racers this area has ever produced. And, he would do anything he could to help out his fellow racers and the younger kids who were just starting. And, even though he doesn’t race much any more he still does the same thing. I don’t know how many stories I’ve heard from the area racers of how Dean Alexander really helped them when they needed it. Parts, advice or just plain encouragement. He has helped so many of today’s racers from this area.”
Emrick is one of hundreds who can testify to seeing, hearing and experiencing what perhaps could be Alexander’s greatest skill: joke teller. Perhaps it comes with the turf of being a tavern owner but Alexander could have easily fit in with the Rat Pack in Vegas around the time he started racing. His encyclopedic memory of jokes is truly amazing. And legion. He could have been a success in Hollywood.
“Dean sometimes will stop by the office to chat and you know that the conversation is going to start with a joke,” chuckles Emrick. “Dean just absolutely loves to tell jokes. Since this is a family publication I can’t repeat most of them (laughs)! And, I’ve seen some of the practical jokes he’s pulled on people. Wow!”
“I really have the utmost respect for Dean Alexander. Great racer, great family man and just a plain, salt of the earth good person. I guess if you wanted to come up with a phrase to describe Dean Alexander the best would be: just a regular guy who was one hell of a racer!”
Alexander spent years confounding the “big boys”, like Moran, Boggs and Swartz, and the regulars at his current stomping grounds, Wayne County and Lakeville. And he has considerable respect for several racers. “Bob Wearing, Sr., is almost a hero of mine,” revealed Alexander. “He’s a friend, a nice guy and a winner. He’s got over 500 wins, after all.”
“Keith Berner is the smartest racer in the area, and a good friend.”
When asked who has been the toughest competition year in and year out over the course of his long career, Alexander never hesitating in responding with, “Eph Davis years ago and then Jim Gentry. Gentry is a real hard charger.”
Drivers from all across the region rely on Alexander’s advice. Besides being a tavern owner he is a Rocket Chassis distributor and proprietor of Alexander’s Budget Bodies, who adorn dirt Late Models all over central Ohio.
“You’re always learning,” reflected the friendly, and popular, driver. “I still learn from different people. I listen, but you have to think for yourself. Wearing, Bob Cannon and Bob Dickerson are a couple who I learned from.”
Despite having a 37-year streak of a minimum of two wins per season broken a couple seasons back, the wins still come for Alexander who has admittedly slowed down some off the track. These days it’s just like it was 40 years ago, all for the fun of it. Some nights he and Chase might haul down to Lakeville, or maybe wait and go to Wayne County on Saturday night. If perchance, at the anointed time to head out for the track arrives, and Alexander suddenly gets a hankering to eat a big steak with Barb at a nice air-conditioned restaurant instead, the racecar sits. But when Alexander gets his #1a Rocket Chassis on the track and the green waves, it’s thermo-nuclear throttle-stomping in one of the smoothest styles being practiced today.
He may be self-admittedly “old”, but the old guy is still hungry once the helmet comes on.
Alexander is pensive about retirement.
“As for how long, who knows?” states Alexander. “I really like spending time with my grandchildren and racing isn’t the priority it once was.”
For years a reporter would ask Alexander each season how long he would race, and usually the cagey Alexander would always imply that it was it his last year as a racer, year after year, and always with his trademark wink. The reporter finally came to the blunt and brutal conclusion that Alexander would quit racing entirely when they pulled his cold, dead fingers off the steering wheel. He isn’t really kidding anyone. Even if he doesn’t race week in and week out, people all across central Ohio could never get used to not seeing Dean Alexander at some track at some point in the season. It just wouldn’t feel “right”. Besides, Alexander has tons of fans at area tracks and sells tickets.
Alexander is pretty casual, modest and nonchalant about his long and impressive career that has seen dirt Late Model racing evolve from one extreme to another. But stop and think. He has battled the likes of Allison, Richmond, Lund, Pearson, Quarterson, Jan Opperman, Rick Ferkel, Kenny Weld, Lynn Paxton, Butch Hartman, Bob Cowen, Jim Dunn, Jim Gentry, Jeff Purvis, Larry Moore, Bob Wearing, Sr., Jack Boggs and Donnie Moran, among the hundreds of other local and regional racers over the years. And how many have raced against Charlie Swartz in both a Sprint Car and a Late Model?
There have been racers who have won more than Alexander but not many will be able to match him in cherished memories.
©2003-2008 Doc Lehman/Dirt America