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In first Gopher 50, Hillson still racing 42 years later

Doug Hillson, Gopher 50, Blooming Prairie, Chateau Speedway
Blooming Prairie race car driver Doug Hillson is shown by #72, which he drove in the Gopher 50 last weekend. Hillson races weekly at the Chateau Speedway in Lansing. Staff photo by Howard Lestrud
Howard Lestrud, Contributing Writer

"Its still fun,said race car driver Doug Hillson of Blooming Prairie.

Hillson, a rather soft-spoken man, raced in the first Gopher 50 in 1980. He’s still racing in the Gopher 50, appearing last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley.

I was young and dumb when I raced in those early years,said Hillson.

He was 23 when he started and said he has missed a few Gopher 50s on the way to 2022.

Standing alongside his No. 72, Hillson said he was his own pit man in this years race. He said he often gets help in the pits from friends and family.

Asked if his wife Kim assists him in the pits, Hillson smiled and said, She says she works hard enough during the week.”

Other than entering the Gopher 50, Hillson says he is racing exclusively at the Chateau Speedway in Lansing on weekends.

Hillson finished third in points at Lansing last year. He said he has only raced seven times at Lansing this year. He drives an MB Custom vehicle that resembles a Chevrolet that powers up to 650 horsepower.

Hillson has worked in the auto repair and auto parts areas for a sum total of 45 years. He logged 30 years at Krejci Ford until it closed two years ago.

I miss the people,he admitted.

Hillson now works as a machinist at Heavy Metal, located on Highway 30 between Blooming Prairie and Hayfield.

“I wanted to try something different,he said.

Race director Jerry Ingvalson said it is always nice to see a local racer entered in the Gopher 50. He said accomplished stock car racer Mark Noble of Blooming Prairie did not race in this years Gopher 50, having retired.

During his racing career, Hillson said, he has raced against Mark Noble and Mark’s father David Noble. Hillson said he started out racing by helping the Nobles.

Mark usually got the best of me,Hillson confessed.

The first two Gopher 50s were held at Chateau in Lansing. The race then was moved to the Steele County Fairgrounds in Owatonna where it stayed until 2005 when it was moved to the Deer Creek Speedway.

This years Gopher 50 featured Lucas Oil late model Dirt Series and USRA modifieds. The purse was $50,000 for the three-day race on July 7, 8 and 9.

Jim Chisholm is the leader in 2022 Deer Creek Speedway Modified Point Standings.

Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill. is the leader in 2022 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Point Standings.

Johnny Scott of Las Cruces, N.M. is the point leader in 2022 Lucas Oil MLRA Late Model Series Point Standings.

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