MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – Through the five decades he’s raced, the 11 car owners he’s competed for and the rise from nobody to National Sprint Car Hall of Famer, the gracious clockwork of Lance Dewease keeps ticking.
“Hopefully the success I’ve had hasn’t really changed me,” Dewease said in a sit-down interview with SPEED SPORT during the summer months. “I don’t see much of a difference other than [being] a little older.”
So, as he accepted Williams Grove Speedway track title No. 7 in Mechanicsburg, Pa., Friday night, of course he wore his hallmark smile. He didn’t lay hands on the spotlight either.
The meaning of his first championship since 2011 at Williams Grove, a place so dear to Dewease’s heart, goes beyond the statistics. He has won Williams Grove titles with five car owners across four decades, amounting to 16 track titles in Central Pennsylvania.
“It’s a welcome addition to get it for Donald [Kreitz Jr.] and Davey [Brown],” Dewease said. “With the Mechanic of the Year being in honor of Davey now, he should get that reward. So it’s just neat for all that.
“Actually, you know, this happening with five different owners kind of tells you how successful we’ve been with a lot of different owners,” Dewease said.
“Doing it in four decades, that means I’m old,” he added.
The feat was not on Kreitz Racing’s radar to begin the year.
Dewease shedded the label of weekly racer a decade ago. He’s raced more specialized, more around home, since his mid-40s and last track title in 2011. For Kreitz, he hadn’t put together a title-winning campaign since 1993.
As this year developed and as the No. 69K team became inadvertently ahead in the Williams Grove points race, they couldn’t avoid the weekly pursuit.
Purses increasing from $4,000-to-win to $5,000 and an extra $500 for occasional Diamond Series races were enticing enough.
“It transformed into, ‘We need to take a shot at it,’” Kreitz said.
Dewease and team showed up to Williams Grove four times between March and April. They scratched from two of those events and reigning champion Freddie Rahmer picked up where he left off.
They didn’t win their first race of the year until May 21, off the momentum of back-to-back podium runs with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car Series at the track.
“We made the decision [in May] to run through Pennsylvania Speedweek to work on some things,” Dewease said. “‘Why not go for [the title]?”
Dewease rattled off four wins in a five-race span and it was over from there. Post-PA Speedweek, he owns eight straight top-five finishes. On the year, the team hasn’t finished worse than sixth in main events.
It’s Williams Grove title No. 10 for Brown, the 87-year-old mechanic, and his first since 1991. Brown’s first championship came in 1961 with his high school friend, Johnny Mackison Sr.
“I’m happy for Davey,” Kreitz said. “He’s week to week. He loves going to the races, but you never know with his health. It’s a miracle he’s made it this long.”
The title became virtually automatic once the No. 69K team ran weekly, but Dewease doesn’t take anything for granted.
His appreciation for Brown, Kreitz and the origin of it all runs too deep.
“You know, everything about the Grove, I didn’t start racing the Grove until I started for [Walter] Dyer,” Dewease said.
“That’s when I got to showcase my talent, the ability to win races,” he added. “Up to that point, we would struggle to run 25-30 shows a year. We started in 1985, and basically until ‘91 I didn’t run many races.
“I mean, I might have raced at the Grove five times in five years before I started driving for Walter Dyer,” Dewease said. “To me, what I’ve accomplished at the Grove is meaningful because I didn’t race there initially.”