Racing Is Part Of Special Bond For Dismores

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Mark Dismore shed tears of joy in Victory Lane last October at Texas Motor Speedway. Five days past his 43rd birthday, he finally had won an Indy Racing event.

Also crying was his wife, Donna. Only she knew what her husband had endured over the years to scale that mountain.

Dismore is back at Texas Motor Speedway for the Casino Magic 500 Indy Racing Northern Light Series race Saturday. Donna is never more than a pit stop away.

In the world of big-time auto racing, Donna Dismore is an anomaly. She not only accompanies her husband to the races, but she is a part of the team.

During practice, she is in the pits as an added an unofficial crewmember. She wears the headset to listen to Mark on the radio when he is on the track in his Kelley Racing Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone car. When he pits she slides the brace under the car on the left front and does other little helpful things. When Mark climbs from the car she takes charge of his helmet and gloves.

During the race, she keeps the sign man aware of Mark’s position on the track. When chief mechanic Glenn Scott completes his tire-changing duties and awaits to give his driver the go sign during pit stops, she pulls the air gun over the pit wall.

And when the race is over, she is there to help Mark celebrate or console him.

"It’s like being a bigger being than you are by yourself," Mark said. "I don’t know how to explain it to you, it’s like having a second soul with you. I mean, she’s there for me all the time, the good and the bad.

"She puts me in line sometimes, which I need, and keeps things in perspective for me. Especially after Indy when I was a rotten person to be around. I remember one occasion when I was not in a good mood, and I was taking it out on someone else. That probably was the worse thing a person can do. She put me in my place, and she was absolutely right and I was absolutely wrong.

"She keeps things in perspective. It’s just racing. I’m not curing cancer here. I’m just, as I put it, a high-speed entertainer. I’m no big thing to the world. None of us are."

Donna scoffs a little at the pedestal on which her husband places her. She says she has flaws like anyone else.

"I’m not the angel with the halo like he makes me look," she said.

Mark met Donna when she was 19. They were soon married. His father, Emerson, owned a kart business in Greenfield, Ind., and Mark was a star driver. She wanted to try driving, but he refused to let her, especially after son Mark Emerson and daughter Esteina were born.

She laughingly calls him a chauvinist.

"He’d let me play," she said. "He had no desire for me to drive. He didn’t want to be the major babysitter."

So she was in his pit, occasionally changing a tire and doing other mechanical tasks. It kept her involved. They also worked together at the kart shop.

When Mark was seriously injured in a crash in 1991 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, she nursed him to health. She helped him learn to walk again.

"That’s part of it," she said. "That’s why you get married. Good and bad, indifferent. He’s good to me, and I’m good to him.

"I’ve got a lot riding in his seat with him. He’s the love of my life, and it just seems pretty normal."

That’s why she flew with Mark on Friday night to Michigan Speedway from Texas for his appearance in the True Value IROC race at noon Saturday. Barbara Signore, wife of IROC director Jay Signore, even rented a larger helicopter in Michigan to accommodate her. Barbara is another who has spent her life at her husband’s side during his racing career and understands Donna’s desire to be close by.

Mark came to Texas a grumpy man. He still was fuming at himself for crashing his primary car at Indianapolis. The backup used in the race never got up to snuff. He qualified 11th and finished 11th, two laps behind winner Juan Montoya.

"I haven’t been the same person since Indianapolis," said the normally affable Dismore.

"I’m still disappointed in myself and no one else. I feel like I did a terrible job. I had a car that was good enough to be on the front row and maybe challenge for the pole. It was no one’s doing but my own.

"I’ll get over it, but it’s going to be awhile. I’m still not over it."

Still, Dismore has put himself in solid contention for the Northern Light Series championship. He finished 16th in the season opener at Walt Disney World Speedway and 16th at Phoenix International Raceway, but then grabbed a second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and added the 11th at Indianapolis for a total of 94 points. That puts him sixth place in the standings, 44 points behind leader Buddy Lazier.

"I think we’ve got a chance here," he said. "I think we’ve got a good race car. I think at the end of 300 miles, if we’re still around at the end of this thing, we’ll be in position to challenge for a win here."

And will there be tears again in Victory Lane?

"Nah, there’ll just be a lot of high-fives, hugs and stuff," he said. "I’m done crying. I got over the hump in this deal. Now if it’s Indianapolis, that’s a different situation."

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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