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Living the Dream

Area drivers test skill against dirt late model’s best in $100,000-to-win event

They are going up against some of the best dirt late model racers in the country, but that hasn’t stopped a trio of Miami Valley drivers from dreaming big.

From Bradford’s Wayne Chinn to Hamilton’s Brian Gray and Eaton’s Rob Williams, the 100-lap Dirt Late Model Dream tonight at Eldora Speedway offers a chance to test their skills against greats like six-time winner and defending champion Scott Bloomquist. It also gives them a chance to chase dirt late model racing’s richest to-win payout of $100,000.

Chinn qualified for his first Dream feature in 2013 and finished 16th after getting caught up in an early accident. He’s also raced in the World 100 in September.

Gray is making his first Dream qualifying attempt.

Williams had never driven a late model before Thursday’s preliminary action.

“It’s been a dream of mine for 25 years of racing. I’m finally getting the chance to do it,” said Williams, who was an Eldora regular in the modified division prior to this year. “If nothing else we’re going to get a lot of practice time.”

With that in mind, Williams is realistic about his weekend. Making it out of a hotly contested heat race — some heats can have two or three former champs — is his goal. Heck, just making it out of the heat race with a car intact is often a challenge.

Just being on the track makes Gray’s weekend. A regular at Moler Raceway Park and Florence Speedway, he’s attempting more races at Eldora.

“I like that it’s so wide. It’s a sweeping race track to me — and a lot of people call them momentum race tracks,” Gray said. “When you’re out there you feel like you’re in an open field. It doesn’t feel like you’re restrained at all until you get up high against the wall.

“It’s fun getting up there. You have to have confidence knowing the car is going to stick. It just feels so much faster. But really I like being anywhere on the race track.”

Chinn has the best chance to make the Dream. He placed 20th in the World 100 in 2012 and fourth in 2007. He’s driving a Rocket Chassis and picked up a few set-up pointers from builder Mark Richards.

“The prestige of the race, the pride that comes with it, that’s what you’re really after,” Chinn said. “Nobody’s going to give the check back, but it would be awesome to get your name on the back of those (commemorative) T-shirts for the rest of time.”

Racing starts at 6 p.m. with hot laps followed by heat races. The main event is expected to unfold about 10.

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