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Dillon opens up about racing

October 05, 1998

Stan DillonBy TERRY TALBERT / Staff Writer

by: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




The publicity and advertising director for Hagerstown Speedway cannot be defined by that job alone.

Stan Dillon, 56, does other work, and has other passions. He believes in exploring life to the fullest.

"I always try the unknown," he said. "I just think life offers so much, physically and spiritually, to experience."

Dillon, who lives in Owings Mills, Md., works full time at a job he can't talk a lot about. He does intelligence work for the National Security Agency at Fort Meade.

"I'm in the satellite reconnaissance department," he said. "That's about all I can say."

Dillon's job has taken him all over the world. He said for security purposes he's polygraphed every five years, and people who know him are questioned about his activities.

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"We go through a lot more than what public officials go through, I'll tell you that," he said.

High-security work by its nature isolates a person, Dillon said. "It takes away a lot," he said. "I can't really tell my family what I'm doing. It's human nature to talk about your job and your accomplishments. I guess that's why I'm in racing - to satisfy my ego."

Dillon writes for an auto racing trade magazine, and pens a motor sports column on the Carroll County area for the Washington Post.

For fun, Dillon and his family "chase" steam locomotives. Dillon said he has an HO train layout that takes up a couple hundred square feet of his basement.

The family also chases roller coasters. "I think Cedar Point (Ohio) is probably the best amusement park to go to," Dillon said.

Thanks to his wife Lynn, Dillon said he also got "some culture." He developed a love for classical music, theater and opera when he agreed to go to cultural events at her request. "I knew she liked those things so I took her grudgingly, because she put up with my things," he said.

Dillon said the family was in Vienna, Austria, when they went to a classical music performance that awed him. "Tears came into my eyes because I realized how lucky I was," he said.

Dillon keeps busy living life. It's safe to say, however, that wherever else he goes and whatever else he does, his roots are fixed in the dirt at Hagerstown Speedway.

"It's been a wonderful time," said Dillon. "The owner - Frank Plessinger - is one of the nicest guys I've ever met. I work with a great bunch of people at the track. I can't say enough about them."

Dillon praised Plessinger for creating one of the best dirt tracks in the country, and opening the gates to kids.

"The track does so much for young people," he said. "The quarter midgets are great for them. And when they're at the track they can help work on the cars or work the concessions instead of hanging out somewhere else with nothing to do."

Appropriately, Dillon's love of racing began when he was a kid. His dad first took him to the track when he was 9 years old. He was hooked.

When Dillon reached high school, racing took a back seat to other interests. He was in two bands, and active in sports.

Dillon was a good enough third baseman to play Class A ball, including a stint with Bluefield in the Appalachian League.

"Baseball was my main subject in high school," he said.

Of all the things he's done - even more than his stint in the driver's seat during a media auto race in Australia - he most values his 1989 Dream Week with the Orioles. It was an anniversary gift from his wife.

After his high school graduation, Dillon went to junior college, and eventually landed a job with the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University as a computer programmer developing satellite navigational systems.

Not long after that, Dillon went back to college. He attended night classes and eventually got his bachelor's and master's degrees in administrative science.

In 1984, he was approached by the government and asked to take his current job with the NSA.

One year later he hired on at the Hagerstown Speedway. He was doing public relations work for two other tracks at the time.

Dillon has passed down his love of automobiles to his sons.

Kenneth, 30, races in the pure stock division. Steve, 27, restores classical cars. Bryan, 25, is a mathematician who doubles as assistant scorer on race days.

The Dillons also have a 21-year-old daughter, Karyn.

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