Ken Dickson Set to be Honored as Late Model Living Legend at 2019 Dream Race

By- Justin Snyder


PORT ROYAL, Pa- Ken Dickson is a competitor. Even after hanging up his steering wheel for good in 2002, Dickson has continued to bring the same passion and need to win to the track every week as the owner of his son Nick Dickson’s Super Late Model.


“If I leave the races satisfied with not running well, I don’t need to be there anymore,” said Dickson. “I showed up every night and I still do show up every night wanting to win and thinking we are going to be in the thick of things.”


“Ask my family. When I was struggling or when we are not running well, I’m not a pleasant person to be around at the house,” he added.


Port Royal Speedway is proud to have Dickson as the Late Model representative to be honored during the 13th Annual Living Legends Dream Race Saturday night. Joe Gravino will be the Sprint Car honoree.


This marks only the second time in the 13 years of The Dream Race that the speedway has honored a Late Model representative and the first since Scott Haus was honored in 2015.


“You know the Late Models have played second fiddle to Sprint Cars in Central Pennsylvania for all the 40 years I’ve been in racing,” joked Dickson. “So, I’m pretty tickled to be leading that charge for the late model guys on this night.”


While he may feel that late models play second fiddle in the area racing scene, it wasn’t often Dickson was second on the track.


A career winner of 54 victories at the Port Royal Speedway, Dickson is second only to Haus in the record books all-time. He also won four track championships in a five-year span, going back-to-back in 1990-91 and 1993-94.


In 1990 Dickson won 13 races at Port Royal and he topped that in 91’ with an unheard of 16 checkered flags. While wins were what he came for each week, it was the overall success throughout the year that he cherished the most.


“I think those four championships are what I’m most proud of,” said Dickson. “It’s one thing to win races, but to win championships means we were good all year. Those things are not easy to get.”


Growing up in a family that supported racing, Dickson caught the bug at an early age. Both of his uncles owned hot rods and his family could be found weekly in the turn four bleachers at Port Royal.


Dickson began racing in 1979. His brother and his friend owned a car together and after that partnership dissolved in 78’, he stepped in the following season. A year later, he bought the operation and operated it himself.


He would win his first race in August of 1984 at the Selinsgrove Speedway. Over the next few years he would pick up wins sporadically, but it wasn’t until the breakout season in 1990 that he truly blossomed.


Driving cars built by Larry Shaw out of Arkansas and with sponsorship form Silki Sportswear, Dickson became a force wherever he went. His #17 Late Model struck fear in his opponents every time he pulled into the track.


“We had good equipment and we just kind of stumbled on a combination that worked really well,” said Dickson. “We also had good sponsors that helped fund us and I just was really good for a while.”


He continued to find success over the years until his retirement in 2002. In a statement move, Dickson won in his very last race he participated in and abruptly retired in victory lane at the Port Royal Speedway. At the time he was the all-time division leader in wins.


“I don’t know too many drivers who win and are still winning and just decided to retire,” said Dickson. “I got out of the car and I said, ‘I’m Done’ and the announcer thought I meant for the year. And I was like, nope, ‘I’m done for good’”


However, Dickson didn’t leave the sport. He handed the reigns of the car to his son, Nick and he became an owner/crew chief. As of this year, it will be 41 years that Dickson has fielded a car regularly in Central Pa. On the night it was announced he would be honored, his son parked it in victory lane for a poignant celebration.


And he continues to do all the set-up work throughout the week on the chassis and is just as involved as he ever was. All of this while owning and operating a garage, Ken Dickson’s Auto Repair in Mcveystown, Pa throughout the week.


“Not too many guys stick around this sport as long as I have,” said Dickson. “I never imagined I’d still be doing this over 40 years later. Time sure flies by when you’re racing.”


He noted that compared to when he was racing, the innovation in equipment and constant change of the sport keeps him on his toes.


“You can ask anybody out there, if you are not on your game or away from things for too long, you’ll be left in the dust,” said Dickson. “Every 30 days they have something new or a change. It’s tougher today then when it was when I was racing for sure.”


While he’s extremely proud of his accomplishments and relishes the opportunity to be honored in front of a packed house of fans during a prestigious race, he’s not ready to slow down and smell the roses. Just like always, he’s planning on celebrating as a winner with his son in victory lane.


“There is a lot of people out there who maybe didn’t like me for one reason or the other, but I also made a ton of friends over the years,” said Dickson. “Looking back on my accomplishments and reflecting, that’s what keeps me going. But ultimately It’s about winning.”


“It’s nice to be celebrated, but I don’t know if I’ll be happy if we’re not running up front and contending. You spend a lot to be in this sport and it can be hard to enjoy things if you’re not running well. So just like always, I’m coming to win.”