DeWall humbled by Jackson Speedway HOF selection
JACKSON -- Jackson Speedway celebrated the induction of its Hall of Fame class of 2013 last Saturday, including long time car owner, crew chief and racing lover Doug DeWall.
"There are no words good enough to describe how I feel about getting into the Hall of Fame," DeWall said. "It is very humbling to be selected and inducted because there are so many people in the Hall of Fame besides my father who were idols to me. Those guys helped me learn a lot about engine building and were always willing to help me out. It is like a big family and I am proud to be a part of that family."
Adding another positive note to DeWall's weekend was the fact that his No. 16 sprint car, driven by Travis Whitney, beat every other car in the All-Star Racing circuit on the same day of his induction.
DeWall's passion for racing started at a very young age when he would join his father and fellow Jackson Speedway Hall of Fame Inductee, Marv DeWall, in his workshop to learn the ins and outs of cars and racing.
"In my opinion, boys like to be with their dads, so I was always in my dad's shop hanging out with him and my brother, Gary," DeWall said. "My family has been driving the No. 16 DeWall sprint car for almost 60 years now. My dad started out driving it and then my brother Gary got into it after my dad."
The No. 16 has been around since 1952, when Marv started racing and decided to give the car the No. 16 because it was his age when he met Doug's mother, Carolyn.
Marv got behind the wheel for the first time during a race in Clear Lake, S.D., when a driver was unable to make it to a race on time and Marv volunteered to get behind the wheel.
Marv won that race and went on to win many more races in his time.
"My dad drove all of his life and also owned his own cars for most of his life," DeWall said. "He drove for Dick Valentine Jr., for a while and even won the first Jackson Nationals race in 1979."
Unlike his father and brother, Doug never got into the racing side of the car business. He much preferred to build the engines that his family used in their No. 16 car.
"The economics of building and taking care of your own engines and cars was what led me to the engine side of racing," DeWall said. "It was really expensive to have someone else come in and take care of the car, and I was not going to pay someone else to do the work. So I just decided to acquire the knowledge myself."
The one things DeWall enjoys most about building engines is watching the cars he has created and fine-tuned race past every other car on the track on race day.
"I really like to watch my car go faster than everyone else's car," DeWall said. "When things go flawlessly with the car during a race, that is the best thing."
The motor Doug is most proud of building during his long career is the one he built for the 1990-1992 seasons. He had purchased a 350 Chevy block and then added a used block, rods and crank along with stock bottom end parts. The engine beat out many 360 motors with higher-dollar aftermarket parts.
"Attention to detail is the most important thing when it comes to getting the most out of an engine," DeWall said. "I'd love to say that the engines are so good because they are a labor of love, but that doesn't always count. The fastest motor I've built so far is the one I've got in the car now. It won the first race at Elko Speedway after they resurfaced it."
In recent years, DeWall has begun to help younger local drivers just getting their start in racing with their car engines. DeWall sees it as a way to give back and honor those older racers who helped him out when he was just starting out in the business.
"When I was younger, I had a lot of older guys around to help me," DeWall said. "So, if there is a local kid who needs help with with car, I'll help them out. It's my way of giving back to the community and the people who helped me."
DeWall plans on working as an engine builder and car owner for another five years at the most, but he knows he will never be able to stop tinkering with engines and cars as long as he lives. He also knows that none of the things he has accomplished would have happened without the help of his family, friends and the community.
"I'd like to thank my son, Jason, and my wife, Judy, for putting up with me throughout the years; they had to miss out on a lot of vacations to go to the races," DeWall said. "I would also like to thank the Jackson Speedway committee for nominating me for the Hall of Fame, as well as Kristy Konda, who was instrumental in putting the the whole ceremony together."