Senior softball was fun for Dave Crowell, but it didn't provide all the thrills and spills he was itching for.
To scratch that itch, the Payson real estate agent set aside his bat and took up dwarf car racing. A year after joining the circuit, he's found out it can be a topsy, turvy sport.
"I've had three major wrecks," he said. "One time, I flew about 80 feet through the air and landed in the infield between the one-third and one-half mile tracks (at Manzanita Raceway)."
The accident totally demolished the front end of his race car.
Months later, Crowell was involved in an accident at the Prescott Valley Raceway. During a heated race, Crowell's dwarf car locked front tires with another car, sending both spinning out of control.
"I flew over the top of two cars and I made a one-point landing on the right front side," he said. "There went another front end to be repaired."
For most seniors, two wrecks in a short period of time would mean the end of a racing career.
Not for Crowell. He returned to the track a month later at Thunder Raceway in Show Low.
His luck in the White Mountains didn't get any better.
Midway through an event, he was T-boned into a wall after another racer's car spun widely into the infield and back onto the track. The collision caused major damage to Crowell's car.
A trio of jarring accidents and a year on the circuit has the hot-roddin' senior ready to admit piloting a dwarf race car around a one-quarter mile track at speeds of more than 100 mph is exactly what he was searching for in his golden years.
"But it also causes a lot of wrecks and time rebuilding your car so you can race the next weekend," he said.
Crowell was rewarded for his unwavering dedication to the sport at the end of the season when the Northern Arizona Dwarf Car Association announced its season champions. Competing against nine other rookies and 43 drivers in his division, Crowell survived a close challenge from Show Low's Mike Witt to win the rookie of the year award. Crowell finished among NADCAR's top-10 racers and will receive a cash prize when awards are doled out this month.
Crowell said he's hoping the prize money is enough to help pay for the repairs he's had to perform on his No. 16 dwarf car.
In the off season, Crowell's goal is to acquire another car for his son and daughter to race. Both have indicated they'd like to try their hands at the sport.
Crowell said he hopes they can follow in his footsteps and win another rookie of the year award for the family.
He said winning the award wouldn't have been possible without the help of his local sponsors: SWJ Tires and Auto Repair, Rose and Billy Hardt at CARS Auto Body, Pioneer Title, Roy Haught Excavating, Country Living Real Estate and Cooper Tires.
He also thanked his wife, Donna, for serving as his racing sidekick throughout the campaign.