Shortly before he died in 2015, while tying up loose ends and putting his "house in order," Chris "Dog" Reynolds was hoping to be fondly remembered by his pals at Farmer City Raceway.
Perhaps a moment of silence prior to the roar of the engines one night would do, according to Reynolds' sister, Peggy Tobin of Farmer City.
Raceway promoter Lance Spieker believed the track could do more. A whole lot more for perhaps its most dedicated fan of over 40 years.
The result is the What Up Dog 40, a Midwest Street Stock Championship Series event that takes the green flag for the third consecutive year Friday night.
The evening is dedicated to preserving the memory of Reynolds, known by all as "Dog," and his passion for Farmer City Raceway and dirt track racing. It also serves as an opportunity for friends far and wide to gather in remembrance at least once a year in a makeshift seating area known as the "Turn Two Tap."
"Knowing how many friends he had sitting out there with him every Friday night, when Peggy came to us it all just kind of came together," Spieker said.
A big crowd is expected in the Turn Two Tap area again this Friday. Tobin says to look for a number of fans adorned in their What Up Dog 40 t-shirts.
"We'll all be in turn two with our orange shirts on," she said.
According to street stock driver Chris Dick of Deland, the "Turn Two Tap," which Dog co-founded, began as an old farm wagon that Reynolds and his cohorts parked at the southeast corner of the track and used as a platform to watch the races.
Dick, his brother Darrell and father Fran have all raced at Farmer City. Tim, Fran's grandson, also is getting his racing career underway.
The family knew Dog, a distant cousin, as more than a fan. He also was a supporter of the family's Team 22 cars.
"My mom was a Reynolds, but we met him through the racing," Chris said. "He jumped on board, gave us a little money."
When coming up with a way to acknowledge Dog's contribution to the team, they settled on "What Up Dog" for the side panels of the cars, a takeoff on the "What Up Dawg" slang term used when close friends meet.
The Dick family also has played an instrumental role in staging the memorial race since its inception.
For the most part, however, Reynolds was simply an enthusiastic, passionate fan.
"We started going as kids, our parents took us out there," said Tobin, one of four children. While she and two of her siblings pretty much quit going to the races, Dog kept going, and going, and going.
Almost every Friday night of every month of every summer for over four decades, you could find him at the track.
He and some of his Turn Two Tap buddies also would venture to some of the bigger dirt track racing events around the Midwest. While there, they would serve as quasi-ambassadors for Farmer City Raceway amidst the camaraderie found among hardcore dirt track fans. Many from out of state are expected to be on hand at the Turn Two Tap on Friday.
Dog, who was 51 when he died of cancer, worked at the Monsanto plant in Farmer City, which is a co-sponsor of the What Up Dog 40, along with Tri-County Sales and Service of Farmer City. Also contributing to the event are Wizzy's, a pub on the main drag in Farmer City, and Illini Overhead Doors, a Monticello company run by Chris Dick.
More than 40 street stocks are expected for the event, with 22 starting the feature.
No one among the competitors will go home empty-handed. Those who don't qualify for the main event through the prelims will be in a "Second Chance" race which will pay the normal weekly series street stock purse.
This will be the first year the event is sanctioned by the Midwest Street Stock Championship Series (MSSCS), an organization co-founded by Greg Osman that is in its inaugural, five-race "learning curve" season.
Argenta's Nick Macklin, who won the most recent outing at Macon Speedway, leads the points standings.
"We haven't had any major issues," said Osman, who's been pleased with the close competition the series has provided. "We've got a lot of support from a lot of people who are appreciative of what we're doing."