Temps Cool & Tempers Rise in Challenger Race at Dillon; Dalton Wins Thriller

Temps Cool & Tempers Rise in Challenger Race at Dillon; Dalton Wins Thriller

There was no sighting of a full moon in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina on Sunday night but the action at Dillon Motor Speedway proved evident that the lunar calendar of 2021 must have been incorrect. After an unthinkable night of carnage and controversy, the clock had rolled past nine pm before the Challenger AR division could make their first start.

Many fans had to leave with the specter of Monday’s work and schedule commitments looming large over many patrons. The temperatures dropped to 34 degrees just 10 units of measurement warmer than that of Portland, Maine. But the die-hards that stayed witnessed some of the most exciting racing a 15 dollar ticket could buy.

One could only hope that the flagman at the New Years Bash received a bonus for his 11-hour arm workout. The race finally went underway after the Mini Stock feature, the 11th annual New Years Bash Street Stock feature, and a wreck fest of a 25 lap U-Car event. The 50 lap event started with 35 Charger cars that had been sitting idle since their final practice that ended before 1pm.

Before the Challenger AR Late Models even made it on the track, young fans were already collecting parts from damaged cars from other races during the night at Dillon Motor Speedway’s New Years Bash on January 10, 2021. (Bridger Swinimer @bicubis Photo)

The action started early on as lap three Wayne Goss and Chad Webster got together, along with Toby Milligan, who would be embroiled in controversy some laps later.

After a Cody Dangerfield spin on lap nine, Ross “BooBoo” Dalton wrestled the lead from Michael O’Brien on lap 12. The freezing diehard fans were treated to an array of three-wide racing upfront, with about as much room for error as synchronized swimming in a jacuzzi. Michael O’Brien, Clint King, and the brightly colored black, pink, and yellow #50 of Dalton were able to fly in formation for multiple laps at the tight 4/10ths of a mile egg-shaped confines of Dillon Motor Speedway.

The familiar yellow cloth was displayed on lap 25 for an incident involving Scott Wenningham and again after an incident involving Dale Driggers.
The trio of contenders went three-wide once more; an unfathomable thing to consider with a weeper in turn four that was deteriorating the track conditions as the night grew longer and colder.

Lap 31, just like a flyover being called to cross back over a stadium, the front runners were three wide for nearly three laps in a row in front of the field. This time the stampede was hot on their heels and the front runners did all they could to keep from creating an even bigger mess.

Toby Milligan found himself being escorted from the track surface after his fracas with Stacy Matthews during the Challenger AR portion of the New Years Bash at Dillon Motor Speedway on January 10, 2021. (Bridger Swinimer @bicubis Photo)

Just when it appeared that the racing might settle in, on lap 37 a multi-car crash collected several drivers, most were able to get away, but Stacy Matthews and the aforementioned Milligan came to rest in turn one. Both cars suffered heavy damage. What happened next would have been more likely in an episode of COPS than on a live racetrack.

Milligan was steamed with anger as he hopped out of his totaled machine. Officials attempted to hold him back but Milligan had quite the size advantage on their grip. He and Matthews got into a shoving match, a blow was thrown, may have connected, as soon as the remnant crowd began to cheer and shout, Milligan was held down onto the asphalt in turn one by a Dillon County Sheriff.

As Milligan was escorted out of the track to the patrol car, red marks were visible on his head. “This ain’t the first time I’ve been tased,” Milligan quipped with a grin as he was moved into the back seat of a patrol car.

The amount of cleanup required by the crews for the entirety of the New Years Bash caused the wrecker to run out of gas. A forklift was spotted removing a car from the turn four banking. The concession stand must have cleared out the local Walmart for coffee, hot dogs, fries, and burgers. The 12 hour New Years Bash was nearly over however a battle to the end still occurred.

The King machine was on the rear bumper of Dalton, both drivers raced with fury. O’Brien ended second ahead of King. Ultimately it was Dalton that prevailed.

Dalton got out of his car nearly in tears. He gave a big hug to King and O’Brien.

Race winner Ross “BooBoo” Dalton (right) and Clint King embrace after a hard fought race in the Challenger AR division during the New Years Bash at Dillon Motor Speedway on January 10, 2021.(Bridger Swinimer @bicubis Photo)

“That was sketchy,” Dalton and teammate Jason Poole exchanged moments. “I’ve never won in a car with pink before. I just want to thank all the people that helped me.”

At that point, our camera equipment froze. It was so cold for so long that the apple device along with the attachable microphone couldn’t operate correctly because of the intense cold.

It was only fitting that the 2021 New Year Bash ended with something going wrong. Things went wrong for a plurality of teams in Dillon, SC. Thanks to a clinic of skilled and respectful driving from all three podium finishers, Dalton was able to emerge victoriously and the “Bash” was finally over.

Results for the Challenger AR division has not been posted by the track yet after scoring went down before the end of the event.

Cover photo by Bridger Swinimer @bicubis