Literally and figuratively.
The Wilson Central High senior was leading a 100-lap race at Fairgrounds Speedway at the midway point when he suddenly blew a tire and his car smashed into the concrete retaining wall. Dylan wasn’t injured, but the same couldn’t be said for his car.
“It was totaled,” Dylan says. “For all practical purposes that was the end of the season for us.”
Dylan drove a replacement car the remainder of the season but it was never up to speed. He finished fifth in the championship standings in the premier Pro Late Model division, two points behind two-time Daytona 500 champion Sterling Marlin.
“The wreck was a big setback both in terms of the season and financially,” says Dylan’s dad Scott. “When you’re operating on a tight budget it’s hard to recover from something like that.”
Scott valued the demolished car at $25,000. Race cars have no insurance.
“We salvaged the transmission and motor but everything else was lost,” Scott says. “If the motor and transmission had been destroyed, the total loss would have come to around $40,000.”
Scott knows exactly what such repairs entail – he is owner of Precision Auto Body in Lebanon, specializing in fixing damaged vehicles. As a retired racer, he has had lots of first-person experience with crumpled sheet metal.
“It’s expensive,” he says.
Dylan says the grinding crash didn’t cause him to hesitate about climbing into another race car.
“You don’t dwell on wrecks,” he says. “If anything, the one I had gives me confidence in the safety of the cars. It says a lot to have a wreck like that and not get a scratch.”
Dylan is a seasoned veteran at 17, with approximately 160 victories to his credit in various divisions. He began racing quarter-midgets at age four and progressed to the Legends Series where he won a track championship at Highland Rim Speedway. He was named Rookie of the Year last season at Fairgrounds Speedway in the Pro Late Models and finished ninth in the standings.
Just as Dylan is not deterred by this season’s setbacks, his dad likewise is determined to forge ahead. As a former racer Scott knows crashes are always a risk.
“You know something like that could happen every time you drive through that (track) tunnel,” he says. “Wrecks have always been part of the sport and will always continue to be. It’s disheartening to lose a good race car, but it couldn’t be helped, and the important thing is that Dylan wasn’t hurt. We’ll re-group during the off-season and get ready for next year.”
Exactly what all the new season holds is not entirely certain.
“We plan to run a full schedule at the Fairgrounds,” Dylan says, “and also hope to do some traveling – maybe run some races at Montgomery (Ala.) and run the Snowball Derby in Pensacola.”
One reason for the team’s optimism is the return of Big Machine Records as a sponsor. The company is owned by Scott Borchetta, one of Scott Fetcho’s long-time friends and racing associates. Borchetta’s artists include such superstars as Taylor Swift and Tim McGraw.
"We really appreciate all that Big Machine Records has done for us," Dylan says. "They've been an important part of our team and we're looking forward to working with them again next year."
Fetcho is one of several young Wilson County teens making a name for themselves in the sport, including Hunter Wright, Cody Fredricks and Chase Johnson.
Tony Formosa Jr., who returns next season as the Fairgrounds Speedway promoter, says he is encouraged by the turnout of such talented youngsters.
"We’re proud to have bright, personable young drivers like them at our track,” he says. “They represent the future of the sport.”