IRL: Texas Mark Dismore Takes a Bite Back

Dismore Takes A Bite Back 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Championship By Michael Burrell On May 10, 1991 the sky over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was partly cloudy, and the air was being split by the sounds of exotic...

Dismore Takes A Bite Back 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Championship

By Michael Burrell

On May 10, 1991 the sky over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was partly cloudy, and the air was being split by the sounds of exotic turbocharged Indycar engines. Rookie Mark Dismore had just completed a personal best lap of 216.611 mph at 5:07 p.m. At 5:09 p.m., this impressive rookie, from nearby Greenfield, Indiana, was lying upside-down with multiple leg injuries, a broken neck, and a broken wrist. His life was spared, but doctors agreed his career as a racecar driver was over. Indycar racing had "bit" Mark Dismore hard.

Eight years, five months, and one week later (October 17, 1999): Mark Dismore won the Mall.Com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Mark Dismore bites back!

Dismore's is a story of triumph over tragedy; a story of a common man with exceptional determination; a story of a love of sport and family. Mark Dismore is a story of true American inspiration.

After a long rehabilitation, Dismore found his way back to racing with Dan Gurney at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Co-driving with P.J. Jones and Rocky Moran, Mark and team won the North America's greatest road-racing prize, but the goal was still to race Indianapolis. In 1996, with the help of John Menard and the new Indy Racing League, Dismore earned a spot in the middle of the pack for the Indianapolis 500; however, "Diz's" greatest break in racing came before the 1997 Indy 500.

Ft. Wayne businessmen, Jim and Tom Kelley, signed on as sponsors for Mark at Indianapolis, and soon decided to field one of the IRL's top teams. Dismore became Kelley Racing's first employee, and quickly established himself as a contender by leading much of the 1998 season opener at Walt Disney World Motor Speedway. However, from there Dismore's luck would change. Accidents not of his own fault and engine failures haunted Dismore throughout 1998 and early 1999. Following a pole and late race crash at Dover, Dismore's engineer resigned; the 99' season seemed lost too. After deciding to engineer the car themselves, Dismore and the MCI WorldCom team set out on a mission to win at least one race in 1999. A third at Pikes Peak and a strong run at Las Vegas (until getting caught in an accident with lapped cars), proved to Diz and team that a win was possible, but only one opportunity remained.

Going into the Mall.Com 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, Dismore was 11th in points, but within striking range of a top five season ending standing. Although the MCI WorldCom team focused on a race setup, Dismore qualified second only four-thousandths a second off Greg Ray's pole speed. On Sunday, rains blanked the Texas Motor Speedway and delayed the race five hours; the temperature was a mere fifty-two degrees. Shortly before the race started, a crewman of Diz's asked him to be patient and let the race come to him. "Oh, you know me I won't do that, but I know what you mean," replied Dismore.

On lap 187 of 208, Dismore took the lead from Greg Ray, and never looked back. Mark Dismore crossed the line and won the final race of the 1999 Pep Boys Indy Racing League Championship; his final points standing was third.

Stopping short of victory lane, and spending extra time in the cockpit to compose himself, Mark Dismore still shed tears of joy in his post race interview. Being the unselfish man he is, Dismore dedicated the race to his father, who is fighting prostate cancer, and thanked his crew for standing by him through the low times. Dismore ended his interview with a prediction, "if I get on a roll like I did in Toyota Atlantics, we'll be in victory lane quite often from now on."

Today, this soft spoken genuine man returned to his Greenfield, Ind., farm knowing his talent can still match his determination, and knowing that he has taken "a little bite back" from the sport that nearly took his life. Tonight, Mark Dismore will sleep a little easier while the rest of the Indy Racing League has nightmares of the 2000 season being dominated by a go-kart salesman named Mark Dismore.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Mark Dismore , P.J. Jones