ENNIS, Texas — It would never have happened this fast had he not been around the sport all of his life. Ask any first or second-year driver in Texas Factory Stock racing how hard it is to run up front in one of this nation's most competitive classes, and they'll tell you it's a challenge of epic proportion.
For 27-year-old third generation racer and second-year driver Cody Dixon, landing in Victory Lane last Friday night at Heart O' Texas Speedway was pure satisfaction. After working alongside his brother Nate for years and starting his own driving career in 2021, Dixon is now a feature winner himself.
The easy-going Texan puts a ton of effort into his program, and is reaping the rewards of his hard work.
“I can't even describe how much it meant to carry that checkered flag,” Dixon said. “It was pretty phenomenal. At the beginning of the year, I trashed the car my first night out. We tore the body up off of it; I had a horrible start to my season, really. I just couldn't keep the car together to save my life.
“We've spent a ton of late nights in the shop trying to piece it back together. I was getting discouraged, but we kept at it and it finally paid off. It wouldn't have been possible without help from my friends. I needed to stay smooth, not make any mistakes and throw it away. I managed to do that, thankfully.”
It hasn't really been that long since this man and his talented brother got started in dirt track racing. Yet that wasn't his first exposure to the sport.
“I grew up at the dirt track, really,” Dixon explained. “My uncle and grandfather started racing back in the late 1980s and raced all the way up into the early 2000s, so I was around it a lot as a kid. And in 2017, my brother and I got our first race car together.
“He drove it, and I was his mechanic. I just started my own career last year after I started dating Peyton Bowles, Michael's daughter. He had an extra car, so I raced it for half a season.”
For this personable and dedicated young racer to have already scored a victory at HOT is impressive.
“We have a very high level of competition in this area in Factory Stock right now, in fact I'll say it's just plain tough everywhere you go,” Dixon admitted. “To be anywhere near the front, to score a top-five or especially a win these days is extremely difficult.
“Whether I'm in Central Texas at HOT racing against guys like Ryan Hopkins, up north with guys like Chris Davis or Walter Hamilton, or over in the Ark-La-Tex chasing guys like Whitehead, Faulkner or Kemp, there are top notch racers ready to dominate the show. It's tough to win everywhere now.”
When Dixon puts on his driver's suit, grabs that helmet and gets ready to compete, he straps into a very nice machine.
“The car I'm driving now was built for my brother about five years ago by Doug Jones,” he said. “So Nate raced it the last five years, and it treated him very well. Now, I'm getting it adjusted to suit my own driving style, simply because my brother has a little different style than I do.
“So he got a new car for this year, handed this one down to me and I went all through it looking for any issues that may need attention. After that rough start, it's starting to come around for us here lately.”
Along with his experience turning wrenches for his brother, raw natural talent behind the wheel and very competitive hand-me-down race car, Dixon also has several key people in his corner who help keep his program on-track and successful.
“I want to thank my girlfriend, Peyton Bowles; my daughter, Huntleigh Dixon, for taking care of everything while I'm spending late nights in the shop; my Mom and Dad for their support; my brother, Nate Dixon, for passing the car down to me and for running door-to-door with me on the weekends; his wife, Kristin Dixon, son Layton and daughter Heidee; my Grandparents; Michael and Tracy Bowles; Devon, Nate, Paige Bowles, Cameron Cook, Toby Grissom and Chris Watson. I appreciate all they do.”
Dixon is also blessed to have a fine group of marketing partners supporting his efforts.
“I'm blessed to have such great partners, and need to thank Guest Tire & Wheel, Best Engines. Club 20 Suspension, All Clear Land Management, MD Bowles Construction, 23 W Construction, Billy Vest at Dirt Defender; KMO Racing, Five1Seven Designs, and of course we're a proud supporter of the Parker Lee Project. I couldn't do this without such solid companies behind me.”
With summer just around the corner (it already feels like mid July anyway) and non-stop racing ahead, Dixon has no lofty expectations – just realistic goals he'll go after now he's had a taste of Victory Lane.
“Since I'm not really chasing points anywhere at one specific track, we'll just continue to run where we can and get me some more seat time. I just want to compete against the best, I feel that's how you learn and get better. If I could get a few more wins, that would be nice.
“Either way, we'll be out there to have some fun and give those big guns a good run for their money.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Stacy Kolar/Southern Sass