For the Potomac News
& Manassas Journal Messenger
Back in 1975, rookie Late Model Sportsman driver Dickie Boswell Sr. had one of his many notable racing experiences at Old Dominion Speedway. He won the McDonald’s 200 before a sellout crowd of 9,000 at ODS, beating racing legends like Bobby Allison, Bill Dennis, Lenny Pond, Sonny Hutchins and Reds Kagle.
Boswell won five Late Model Sportsman races in his first year driving in the division. “It was a lot of fun,” recalled Boswell, who also raced in the Late Model division at ODS from ’89 to ’95, driving the cars of Sam Beaty and finishing second in points three times over a period of five years.
Boswell narrowly missed winning championships in Late Models twice at ODS. The first time was in 1989 when he finished 24 points behind Charlie Ford. The other time was when Boswell ended up only 28 points behind Brandon Butler in 1993. Boswell finished third in the division in ’90 and ’91.
“Now that I look back, I wished I’d run for the championships,” said Boswell, with a laugh. “When I was racing I had a family and always had to think about supporting them and never really got serious about racing. It was always just a good time for me. I never thought about it until Richard [Boswell III] started winning championships in go-karts.
“Now don’t get me wrong,” Boswell added. “I went out there to win every race.”
Before Boswell raced in the Late Model division, he competed in the series equivalent to the Busch series in the mid-80s. He raced at Charlotte, Daytona, Dover, Milwaukee and Rockingham, among other places, and even finished third in races at South Boston and Martinsville in 1984. In fact, Boswell almost won the race at Martinsville in ’84 and got the Miller trophy for leading the most laps in the race.
With 60 laps to go, Boswell was leading the field when the power steering broke on his car. Jack Ingram and Dale Jarrett were a lap behind Boswell but they ended up getting by him, with Ingram winning and Jarrett finishing second.
“It was a pretty neat weekend,” Boswell said of his third-place finish at Martinsville. “I loved the traveling in those days. Back then, we used to go to the race track and not have enough money to get home on gas. We counted on winning.”
Charlotte was Boswell’s favorite track. He qualified 10th the first time he raced there. And people were supportive at Charlotte in those times. John Moose, now deceased, used to help drivers who were short on funds and once persuaded Humpy Wheeler to buy a set of tires for Boswell so he could race.
Boswell still remembers the race when he qualified 10th at Charlotte. He was running fourth in the race in front of Bill Dennis, in fifth, when Boswell got sideways coming off the corner and hit the wall with the right rear. That hit didn’t hurt anything, but the car came back and banged the wall again with its right front.
“That race track just fit me,” Boswell said. “I loved it to death.”
These days, Boswell is crew chief, mentor, and spotter for his son Richard in Late Models at ODS. “I enjoy watching him learn,” Boswell said.
Two weeks ago, Boswell received a treat watching Richard finish fifth, his highest finish yet in Late Models. Six weeks back, Boswell and his son conferred and decided to try for higher finishes. Before that, Richard had been mostly riding, collecting seat time because the team was strapped for cash and young Boswell was still learning.
“Richard’s run a lot of go-kart races and knows how to race,” Boswell Sr. said. “It’s just being able to have enough money to turn him loose and say: ‘Go for it.’ Up until about six weeks ago, we wouldn’t do that because we were scared we were going to wreck and we wouldn’t be able to be out there the next week. That was important to him but it’s also important to him to run good. And he got tired of just riding around. So we decided to try and run good and if we tore the car up, we tore the car up.”
Boswell pointed out that he and Richard have quite a few sponsors helping them and they’re grateful to Tavares Concrete, Charles De Weese Construction, Eif’s Supply, Locust Lanes and A.H. Hatcher. “It looks good,” Boswell said of his list of sponsors. “And we’re appreciative of everything we get but we just don’t get a lot. We spend $600 a week if nothing goes wrong for tires and pit passes.”
Boswell also said that he’s grateful to Danny’s Automotive Service for providing gas. “It doesn’t seem like much,” he said. “But that drum of gas is another couple of tires and that keeps us racing. E&G Customs also does lettering for us.”
Boswell says that his racing days are not over yet. The last time he raced was Sept. 25, 1999 at ODS. He finished third in Jimmy Humphrey’s Late Model car. “I’d still enjoy racing as much as I ever did,” Boswell said. “I plan on doing it again.”