After 32 years of racing at the Western Speedway, Mike Dash finally won his first stock car racing championship – in the claimer class.
Dash first started racing in 1989, finding a love for the track as a kid when his father would do flying laps around the park. When family commitments forced Mike’s father to step back, Mike waited until he was 17 and raced for the first time using his father’s car.
Ever since then, Mike has been heading down to the track. He’s had success. His first weekend competing, he won a race and has raced on and off for 32 years. But he’d never won a championship. And he wanted one.
“The adrenaline,” he said when asked what keeps him coming back. “And the fact that I’m 49 years old and beating kids. Most guys, professional guys, they’re retiring at 40 to 45 years old, and I just seem to be getting faster.”
Mike won in the claimer class, one of the cheaper ones to enter. There are six races in the championship, but the catch with the claimer class is at the end of each race. Anyone can walk off the street and buy a car that raced that day for $300. If you get an offer, Mike says, you have to take it. The car Mike won the championship in isn’t even his anymore.
Mike said the people at the speedway have become like a family, and racing is a family affair for him.
Mike’s son Lucas Dash finished fourth in the points championship. Lucas says he was initially forced into racing by his dad, but now he has “got the bug.” Lucas’ younger brother Isaiah also races and is probably the most dedicated member of Mike’s crew.
“We’re still crawling out of bed, and he’s out here,” said Mike. “He’s out here tooling around with the cars. Make sure we’re getting them ready, making sure the tools are packed up.”
Mike’s two kids say they’re going to keep racing, although they will likely have to do it somewhere else than where their dad has been racing the past three decades — with Western Speedway set to shut next year. Mike said it was tough to take.
“I’ve been going there my whole life. My parents are even saying that I was in my mom’s stomach when they first started bringing me,” he said. “I was raised there, so I am losing a big part of me when it goes.”