Another notable that night was the fact that Drown’s infant son, Cale, attended his first-ever race and the ‘old man’ took the win driving his Wooster Glass Co/Poske Performance Parts/Hamlin Automotive/Malcuit Racing Engines/Mason Racin/Bert Transmission/Hoosier Tire/Lehman Motorsports Services/Genesis Racing Shocks Rocket Chassis Ford Mustang #12.
For a couple decades the Holmes Hilltop Speedway ran each week in Millersburg, OH until the end of the 1973 season when the track was finally shuttered, for what most people thought was for good. Few ever imagined the track would ever return but that’s exactly what happened this year when Ashland, OH businessman Jeff Norris, a second-generation racer, purchased the property and spent months and months revitalizing, renovating and remodeling the track.
“It was definitely a great feeling,” understated Drown, 23. “Obviously the guys prepared the cars well because it seemed like a lot of the guys were breaking something. The track wasn’t really that rough, it was pretty smooth and only had one hole in one turn.”
“But you have to hand it to them at Hilltop, they did everything to get that show in and the drivers all came out and helped. It ain’t cheap at $5.00 a gallon to burn racing fuel but every single driver came out and helped run the track in. Jeff took care of us, so we took care of him.”
“Definitely the car was awesome and it was exciting to win in a race like that, it came down to the second to last turn of the last lap so it was definitely a good win for the team.”
No one disputed how exciting the race was. “It was exciting as all get out and I don’t think there was anyone who was sitting down for that in the stands,” said Ed Fredericks, Race Director and Head Flagman at Hilltop. “Doug and Ryan did a great job in that race, it couldn’t have been more entertaining for the fans. It was a great way to usher in the new era of Hilltop Speedway.”
Drown’s win didn’t come easy as he had to fend off the relentless challenges of Ryan Markham. Drown and Markham spent lap after lap virtually side by side and it wasn’t until the checkered flag of Ed Fredericks dropped did Drown have the win in hand.
“I kept seeing his nose once in awhile and I thought pretty soon Ryan will let it all hang out and with coming around for the white flag he came flying in there and I went in there, and if he wouldn’t have jumped the cushion he probably would have went around us, but we held on,” explained Drown. “Ed Fredericks said he had never been on a flagstand and never saw a race that exciting. He said we put on a great show.”
“I think that’s the way it’ll be in Friday night down there. The track will be able to have that cushion and it won’t be follow the leader. I think they have a great thing going on down there.”
Drown won over Markham, Blaine Aber, D. J. Miller, J. R. Gentry, Eric Smitley, Mark Gardiner, Ty Myers, Charlie Duncan, Andy Fike, Michael Stiltner, Josh McMorrow, Jeff Wright, Travis Brookover, Jim Gentry, Tracey Fritter, Mike Stiltner and Mike Graber.
With inclement weather forcing nearly every other dirt track in Ohio to cancel last Friday, Hilltop management dug in and made every effort to get the show in. “I gained a lot of respect for them down there,” stated Drown. “I hate to admit it but I was one of the doubters who thought they wouldn’t get a race in until July. But they did it and its exciting racing. I was impressed and I hope the fans enjoyed it.”
“From the time we pulled in to the gates, people were waving and thanking us for coming. Where else do you get that at? They were all friendly. To me there is nothing bad you can say about the place. The races that night should have been cancelled but the guy showed he is there to race and that’s all we wanted to do.”
Another highlight of that night for Drown was the fact that his son, Cale, who was born this past October, attended his first-ever race with Dad and Mom, Courtney, and it was on a night that Dad took a very impressive win on a special night.
“I told Courtney that’s how memories are made,” commented Drown. “The first night out he goes to the races that we take him and we win and that’s something we can always share as a family together plus the grand opening night of that track. It’s sweet. It was great.”
“The track held up things so Courtney could get on down and Ed Fredericks held Cale until she got down so she could carry him over to victory lane. The whole crew, the whole family, it was a great time for all of us that night.”
“The car was great and I want to thank Mike (Farr) for getting our shock package (Genesis Racing Shocks) figured out. He helped us with that and got us straightened out and we picked up a win.”
This Saturday evening Drown will compete with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series when they make a visit to the King Family promoted Florence Speedway in Union, KY for the 20th Annual “Ralph Latham Memorial” race on Saturday night June 3rd. The race is a tribute to one of the all-time great drivers out of the Cincinnati, OH area who will be posthumously inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame at Florence on August 12th.
For more information on Doug Drown visit the website at: www.dougdrown.com