Auto Racing

After fighting cancer and COVID-19, Vinton's Terry Dulin is back racing again

'Scooter' has trouble breathing but can't give up his passion

Terry #x201c;Scooter#x201d; Dulin and his support staff helped get his car ready to race Sunday at Vinton while he fixed
Terry “Scooter” Dulin and his support staff helped get his car ready to race Sunday at Vinton while he fixed an unexpected problem with his trailer. Dylan Prohaska (from left), Stewie Prohaska, Rileigh Hogan, Stacy Dulin, Adilynn Dulin, Scooter Dulin, Ethan Hogan and Josh Hogan helped him get back on track. (Justin Webster/The Gazette)
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VINTON — Terry Dulin decided when he was 6 months old he wanted to sit up like a racecar driver when he moved about.

That’s when his family started calling him “Scooter.”

“I use to scoot instead of crawling,” said Dulin, a 43-year-old father of two who calls Vinton home with his wife Stacy.

“I’ve been around cars most of my life. My uncle on my mom’s side, Gene Abernathy, had a repair shop and I started working (in a junk yard) when I was 16. I started racing when I was 18 and it’s about the only thing I know. I don’t know construction or anything like that. Cars just interest me.”

That interest has led him to 20-plus years of racing the regular season at Independence Motor Speedway and Benton County Speedway with three track titles between them. He also likes to chase the big races as the leaves turn in the fall.

“I’ve been all over and I go to a lot of special races at the end of the year,” Dulin said. “I just bounce around.”

His older brother, Frankie, raced for quite a while, but quit in 2005.

“We had go-karts and mini bikes as kids and I’ve always been a gear head,” Dulin said,

Some of his inspiration also comes from his grandfather, Marion Cottrell, who was one of the earliest IMCA modified drivers in the early 1980s.

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Dulin’s mother, Coneye, always has been a big supporter, although she hasn’t seen him race in a few years. The support staff he relies on consists of friends and family who answer when he needs help.

“The time it takes has a lot of people involved to make this happen,” Dulin said. “I didn’t even get here for the heat race tonight because my trailer broke. I had all of these guys here to check me in and waiting for me because without their help, it just isn’t going to work with one person.”

His two kids, Jarrett and McKenna, also have been around the track a lot this season, possibly because Scooter has faced some additional adversities lately.

Dulin took the latter part of the 2018 season off to fight throat cancer with 37 treatments of radiation needed to save his life. He then returned in 2019 with some needed adjustments to his helmet with oxygen pumped in during the race, allowing him to breathe easier.

“I’m kind of just getting back into it,” Dulin said. “I have trouble breathing and talking now, so the racing is kind of hard on me but I love doing it.”

Dulin loves it so much that he’s back in his 3T (3 for Dale Earnhardt and T for Terry) 2018 Rev Chassis built under a 1997 Monte Carlo body, just a few months after contracting COVID-19 and being hospitalized for several days.

“I was there from Sunday to Friday,” Dulin said. “They put me under from Sunday to Wednesday because my left lung was completely full and I had pneumonia. My immune system is pretty weak from the cancer.”

That’s part of the reason Dulin has mostly raced only on Sundays, missing the last few weeks at Indee. He hasn’t felt good.

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“When I get out of the car I can’t breathe and if it’s hot, it takes my breath away,” Dulin said. “What else am I going to do? I have to do something and I enjoy it too much to give it up.”

Dulin has passed that enthusiasm for the sport to his granddaughter, Adilynn, who is his biggest fan at 5 years old.

“Of all the kids, she’s the one that enjoys it most,” he said.

On the track, Dulin is considered a “bottom-feeder” and even has catfish written across the back end of his car.

“I like to run around the bottom near the tires and when the bottom is fast I usually win,” Dulin said. “I like a dry slick track.”

That being said, Dulin admits all this talk about smooth tracks is somewhat misleading.

“It’s not smooth by no means,” he said with a laugh. “You feel a lot and you get jolted around.”

Kind of like Dulin’s life the past year.

Comments: justin.webster@thegazette.com

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