MONTICELLO - Darrell Dick of Monticello remembers crying when he watched his father’s race car head down the driveway after Dad sold it.
Foz had raced for about eight years, but came to an impasse.
“Back then you didn’t make a lot” of money, Foz said. “Me and my wife sat down and made a decision. She said, ‘We’ve either got to feed the family or feed the race car.’ ”
So the decision was made to sell it, and son Darrell was not happy. He enjoyed watching his father race too much. Little did he know it would be the start of a family tradition.
It’s in their blood. Darrell took up the sport. So did brother Chris, Darrell’s son Timmy and Timmy’s 11-year-old son, Hudson.
It seems the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Hudson “has won more features than I ever did” in his three years of racing, Foz said.
Darrell, who is 56, took up the sport as a late-bloomer. He was 30.
“I wanted to be racing a long time before that,” he said. “I just couldn’t afford it. It’s an expensive hobby,” noting the cost has probably quadrupled since he started. “Everything — motors, tires, bodies, suspensions — everything’s escalated. It was halfway affordable. These last few years, it’s gone crazy because there’s no supply, supposedly.”
Darrell said he has raced “in Farmer City, Macon, Charleston, Lincoln, La Salle, the Springfield Mile, Taylorville, Jacksonville. I even went to Iowa when we had COVID.”
Darrell started in the Sportsman class before switching a few years later to Street Stocks. He now races in B-Mod (modified). He estimates he’s won about 30 races.
Some high school graduates get cars as presents. Darrell gave son Timmy a race car, “and after that he was hooked.”
Timmy started out in Sportsman before moving to Street Stock and now is in Crate Late Model. He was champion at Farmer City last year and races at Macon, Kankakee and Spoon River.
Darrell’s brother Chris, who owns Illini Overhead Doors in Monticello, also races a Crate Late Model.
The Dicks all live in the Monticello area, except for Chris, who lives in De Land.
Darrell said it’s a family-oriented hobby. Darrell, Chris and Timmy have raced one another in the past.
Who is the best driver in the family? “Probably my grandson,” said Darrell, who said “my goal is to race my son and grandson. Then I’ll die a happy man.”
Darrell said he’s seen his racing abilities decline over the years, saying, “I’m not as aggressive as I used to be.”
“I don’t like to have to fix ‘em. When we have those 15-lap features, I’ve got to give it all I’ve got. I like them longer races because then I can take my time. I always told them they need to have an Old Man Class so I can take a break.”
Darrell has had his share of wrecks, some with injuries.
He said he broke his arm in a “baby rollover” when the G-force knocked his arm out the window and the car came down on it. He had a violent rollover at the Fairbury track, where he suffered a concussion, and caused a great deal of damage in a wreck at Springfield.
“I hit the inside guard rail, and it dead-stopped me,” Darrell said.
“Timmy’s had one rollover and Chris has had some. I’m the only one that broke something.”
The man who started it all, Francis, “Foz” Dick, got his nickname from a friend because a racer he backed was sponsored by Fosdick Poultry. The nickname stuck.
Foz and his late wife, Janice, are members of the Farmer City Wall of Fame for their involvement and support in racing and showing 4-H livestock for more than 50 years.
Foz said he didn’t have to convince any of his family to become race fans.
His daughter, Angela, is race fan and works the gate at the Farmer City track.
Even after he quit racing, Foz remembers his wife and their four children heading off to the race track.
“It turned out they all liked the races. They had their little racing suits. She brought boiled hot dogs and buns, and that’s what they had to eat,” Foz said.
The 78-year-old Foz, who has worked as a mechanic all of his life, is a Chevy man through and through. He raced the Late Model category, which today is called Street Car — “like a ‘56 or ‘57 Chevy, a ‘66 Camaro. The last car I had was a ‘70 Nova.”
He taught his children all he knew about fixing cars and how to race.
His advice on the track: “You go into the corner until you see God and then you mash the accelerator. I had to learn to finesse it into a turn. When you feel it in your rear end, you can tell whether the car’s loose or tight or pushing. When you learn that, you’ll be a good racer.”