IRL: Dismore, son make racing a family affair at Phoenix

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: DISMORES AIM FOR VICTORY AT PHOENIX By Dick Mittman PHOENIX, March 27, 1999 -- Pep Boys Indy Racing League star Mark Dismore says he may hide in his motor coach when his 18-year-old son, Mark...


By Dick Mittman

PHOENIX, March 27, 1999 -- Pep Boys Indy Racing League star Mark Dismore says he may hide in his motor coach when his 18-year-old son, Mark Emerson Dismore, makes his U.S. F2000 debut Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Mark Emerson - his Greenfield, Ind., buddies call him "Little Mark" - says he wants to be involved in the pits when his father races two hours later in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League MCI WorldCom 200 on the same 1-mile oval.

The Dismores are the latest father-son story in auto racing. The most famous, of course, were the Unsers, Al and Al Jr., and Andrettis, Mario and sons Michael and Jeff.

Also at Phoenix Sunday, rookie Jaques Lazier will drive for his father Bob, a former Indy racer, while brother Buddy, 1996 Indy 500 champion, competes with another team. Four-time Indy winner A.J. Foyt, will watch son Larry drive in the U.S. F2000 race before sending out his drivers, defending league champion Kenny Brack and Billy Boat, in the MCI WorldCom 200. Car owner Dick Simon will have sons Richie and Mark working in the pits with driver Stephan Gregoire.

But the Dismores have attracted the most attention this weekend. Father Mark qualified a career-best second in the MCI WorldCom Dallara/Aurora/Goodyear at 174.622 mph, while Little Mark qualified third for the U.S. F2000 event at 128.489.

"My kid's putting pressure on me," Father Mark said with a laugh. "Watching him racing makes me a whole lot more nervous than me racing. My race will be anticlimactic after standing there on the pit wall watching my son go around. I don't know if I'll watch. I told my wife that. I think I'll sit in the motor home, and she'll have to tell me what happened. Honestly, I don't really want to watch."

Young Dismore, whose voice is a vocal copy of his dad's, doesn't enjoying being a spectator at his father's races, either.

"I don't like watching," he said. "I'm much better at doing." So he'll join the crew in the pits, help out wherever he can, and feel he has a connection with what is happening on the track.

For wife and mother Donna Dismore, this will be the first time she has had to endure the double stress of watching husband and son race on the same day on a fast track. She accepts it with a surprising calmness. "They haven't got me shook up yet," she said. "I'm glad our daughter (Esteina) - she's 17 - doesn't drive.

"I trust both of them. I trust their ability, I trust their mental judgment, even in our son. So they make me feel pretty calm. It's just all the other drivers who make me nervous."

It was 8 years ago this May that the elder Mark Dismore suffered serious injuries in a crash at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The accident left an impression on young Mark, but it didn't end his desire to race. "Anytime you see anybody get hurt, it kind of bums you out," the son said. "But if you want to race or play football or whatever you want to do, you can't get held off by something like that. If you see somebody get run over by a truck doesn't mean you can't cross the street.

"You've got to live your life. Things like that happen, but you can't be stopped by them."

Donna had the daunting task of nursing her husband back to wellness. She still remembers his comments at the hospital. "You just pick up the pieces and go on," she said. Mark Emerson drives a car carrying the rare No. 13. His sponsor is, an Internet job search database. Father, like mother, believes his offspring uses good judgment and says his son understands U.S. F2000 is another learning experience. "There are not thoughts about going out there and whipping anybody," the elder Dismore said. "He's here to learn, and hopefully it's a long progress for him as far as his career goes. This is the first step. This is a school, that's all it is." His son agrees. He pointed out that new challenges are thrown at him regularly, and he must conquer them or step aside. Young Mark added that the only pressure he feels is his desire to succeed. He notes that people say he has reached his racing position only because of his father, but he doesn't feel that way at all. "I'm Mark Dismore, but I am also another person," young Mark said. "If I'm not doing good, I hate it. It's just something inside me. It's my competitive drive. It isn't anybody else's. So if I didn't want to do it, I wouldn't be here."

Father Mark helps his son in a quiet way, providing little suggestions on ways to improve his time around the track. But when together for the weekend, his concentration mostly is on his Pep Boys Indy Racing League career.

"I want to win just to get that first win," he said. "You knock down that first one, and the rest of them do come easier. It's been true in every series I've ever been in. So I just want to get the first win."

Son Mark has his own perfect scenario, but knows it most likely won't happen.

"First off, I want to win," he said. "I want him to win, too.

"If we both get to win and Scott (Sharp, the elder Dismore's Kelley Racing teammate) finished second in his race behind Dad, that would be a real good weekend for everybody.

"That's more of a dream than anything. A lot of variables go into that. But it would be really awesome."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Stephan Gregoire , Billy Boat , Mark Dismore , Jaques Lazier  , Kenny Brack , Dick Simon , A.J. Foyt