Do you remember the person who turned you into a race fan?
It's good to remember the people who introduced us to motorsports, those who first gave us a taste of what for many becomes an addiction. For some it's a friend. For others it's a a relative, usually a parent.
In my case it was my father, who departed in 2004.
Many of my earliest memories are riding on the gas tank of my dad's BMW motorcycle as he rode to Marlboro Raceway. I was only 2, but safely tucked between my father's legs as I held onto the handlebar, the helmet on my head as tight as it could be.
Dad was a corner worker back then for SCCA road racing events. Obviously it wasn't safe for a toddler to be at the corner workers' station, so I watched the races with family friends in the grandstands or in the tower. I saw both cars and motorcycles race on Marlboro's road course, but also got to see stock cars on Marlboro's oval.
Later Dad took me to Beltsville and Dorsey Speedway's in Maryland, as well as Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas. I went to all sorts of motorsports events, and before the age of 10 had seen sports cars, Sprint Cars, Midgets, indyCars, NASCAR's top division, Modifieds on both dirt and pavement, late Models on both dirt and pavement, airplane races, unlimited hydroplane boat races, motorcycles on dirt ovals and road courses, motorcycle hill climbs, motorcycle enduro, motocross, scrambles -- if it ran with internal combustion and people used them to compete, I saw it.
I saw many of the greats race in my youth, in all forms of racing. And I'm lucky enough to see many of the greats race today. I honor my Dad's memory by thinking of him every time I'm at a racetrack. As he used to say when we enjoyed races together, "It's a good thing I wasn't into tiddlywinks."
Clifford Dove, of Winchester, isn't into tiddlywinks -- in fact, he's one of the best racing photographers on the East Coast. A former track photographer at Winchester Speedway, I had the pleasure of working with Dove when I worked as editor of Dirt Late Model magazine, and in the past year have used Dove's photography in Late Model Racer. He's got the motorsports addiction, and like many of us, that addiction was passed down by a parent.
In Dove's case, that parent was his mother, Dana Dove, who passed away in 2009 following a long illness. According to Clifford, his mother attended everything from top NASCAR races, to local events at Winchester and up and down the East Coast. As a child, Clifford Dove tagged along and learned to love the sport enough that he is now an active participant as a photographer.
But Clifford does more than just remember his mother to honor her for passing along her passion for the sport. The third Dana Dove Memorial race will be held June 1 at Natural Bridge Speedway, a race for the touring Steel Block Bandits.
This will be the second Dana Dove Memorial at Natural Bridge. The race was held there in 2011 and was won by J.R. Overstreet, who had to fight off a hard-charging Booper Bare for the win. The inaugural event was held in 2010 at The Rock/Allegheny County Speedway and was won by Doug Timmons Jr.
Now after a one-year hiatus, the Dana Dove Memorial returns to the Larry Ramsey-promoted track in Natural Bridge.
I hope many of you will attend. Not only will you get to see one of the best dirt Late Model touring series in the region, but you'll be able to help Clifford Dove honor the memory of the woman who gave him a passion for motorsports. It is such a unique event, that those in attendance will be honoring all the people who passed down their love for racing.
In fact, it would be a great event to take a child. Bring your children, your siblings' children, or even invite the neighbors so their kids can learn to enjoy racing. Not only would Dana Dove approve, but so would the person who gave you the passion. Pass it along.