Feature Article, Stock Cars, Washington — May 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Dennis Crawford (Issue 95)

by

By Steve Heeb

Dennis Crawford remembers watching dirt track racing when he was a kid in South Dakota, and logged some time karting there as well.

Dennis made the trek to the Northwest to work for The Boeing Co. in 1966.

“I was a jig builder in Plant 2,” Dennis says of working at Boeing. “I started with the first model 737 and built all the tooling for that.”

His father also was a machinist at Boeing.

“He was a whiz with his hands and his brain,” Dennis reflects. “You could ask him how to do something and if he didn’t know it, he would learn it.”

In the spirit of learning through experience, Dennis took a shot at drag racing his Z-28 Camaro at the Puyallup Dragstrip in 1968.

“I just did it for one season,” Dennis concedes. “It was too hard on the car that was my daily driver.”

A few years later he started a project restoring a ’37 Chevy pickup he picked up in 1972.

“My dad had one of those when I was a kid,” Dennis recalls. “I got it all torn apart. It’s still under a cover.”

He and his dad also built an airplane together.

“It was a Christavion from Canada,” he reminisces. “We built it from just the plans and it took us eight years.”

In the years that followed, Dennis took jobs at Kenworth, Caterpillar and Genie Industries, where he worked 23 years before retiring in 2009.

With one career nearing an end, Dennis began another after coming to Evergreen Speedway to watch family friend Cody Koroshes race about five years ago.

“We all fell in love with it,” Dennis explains. “I came to help out.”

Dennis became a regular at the track crewing for Hornets driver Ken Moi.

“Last year I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” Dennis says of watching from the pits. “I wanted to race.”

He drove in four races at the end of the 2010 season.

“Racing’s a lot harder than you think,” he says of joining the Hornets ranks. “Especially the Gs in the corners.”

He felt more aggressive by the end of the year, and even more so going into this season.

“He’s always liked car racing,” says wife Kathy. “This is like a second childhood for him. He just likes to go out there and race.”

“It brings out the little kid in him,” agrees granddaughter Shawna with a smile. “He’s the best ever.”

Dennis has his own favorite drivers out at Evergreen Speedway.

“I like Shane Harding and Jeff Knight,” he says. “And two-time Mini Stocks champ Chris Harris, whose wife Mindy also races.”

“He’s always been a big Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan,” Kathy says of her husband.

Dennis has his ’90 Honda Prelude painted red and runs the number 8 like Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Most of the cars in the Hornets division run multi-valve dual over head cam engines.

“My car is a single over head cam,” Dennis says. “But it’s fast enough for this old man.”

He may not be in the heart of the pack on the track, but Shawna is proud of her grandfather.

“He’ll help everyone,” she beams. “He loves it.”

Dennis encourages those considering racing to jump into an entry level class like the Hornets.

“Just get into it if you can come up with a junker,” he stresses. “In the long run it will be better.”

At 68 years old, Dennis certainly is older than most drivers but has respect for the younger competitors.

“More power to ’em,” he laughs. “This is the best experience they can get.”

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