Monday, April 6, 2009
Raffle winner can be part of action
ROCK RAPIDS-Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. might not have started like this, but for those of you who lack the finances, here's a way to get a jump-start in racing.
The Heartland Racing Association is giving one lucky racing enthusiast the opportunity.
The promoter of Rapids Speedway in Rock Rapids has a new wingless sprint car it is raffling away.
"It's race ready," said Jeff Davis, vice president of Heartland Racing Association. "Just add fuel and a driver, and you're off to the races."
The never-been-raced sprint car, which is on display outside Todd's Station in Rock Rapids, has an updated Stevenson chassis, a 350 Chevy motor, Hilborn fuel injection, Vertex magneto, KSE power steering, Keizer wheels and Hoosier tires.
"If somebody new that has never driven a sprint car get it, we'll be there to help them their first night, to make sure they get off on the right foot," Davis said. "We're excited about wingless sprint car racing. It's a class that's going to bring sprint car racing back to life."
Raffle tickets for the sprint car are $20 or six for $100. Only 1,000 will be sold, and more than 600 already have been sold.
The give-away is slated for July 3, but that depends on when the 1,000 tickets are sold.
"We'll be announcing the winner as soon as 1,000 tickets are sold or on July 3, whichever comes first," Davis said.
While the sprint car itself is valued at $15,000, Heartland Racing Association wanted to have some leftover funds to directly benefit Rapids Speedway, the fans and the racers.
"We're trying to make the sport healthy again," Davis said. "Iowa is an iconic racing state. Rapids Speedway used to be pretty much iconic, but then it kind of went the other way. On a local level, the sport has suffered a bit over the past few years, and our goal is to bring it back."
If Heartland Racing Association is successful in its goal, Davis said the economies of the towns surrounding Rock Rapids could see a pickup.
"When you start having big shows like we're having this year, there's a lot of money getting left in the surrounding 50 miles," he said. "Motels, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, the whole ball of wax. That's our goal, to put Rapids Speedway back on the map like it was years ago. It's a unique facility. It's the oldest covered grandstand in the state of Iowa, and it's a beautiful race track."
Davis said the local promotion would not be possible without Rock Rapids-based businesses like Pizza Ranch, which is a title sponsor of Rapids Speedway, and Todd Hilbrands, owner of Todd's Beer Cave and a local Heartland Racing Association representative.
"Todd's Beer Cave is a great advocate for the city of Rock Rapids as well as the race track," Davis said. "Todd looks out for everybody's welfare. He does all of this in a very unselfish way. If he thinks we're charging too much, he's on us. He's been a real asset to the organization."
Although Heartland Racing Association is based in Sioux Falls, SD, Davis said in no way is the organization trying to bring the Sioux Falls market to Iowa.
"What we're focused on is the Iowa market - making things better for the Iowa race fan and the Iowa vendor," he said. "W're really working on the Rapid Speedway and Rock Rapids and the surrounding 75 miles."
Mainly through the raffle, Heartland Racing Association just hopes to get someone new involved in sprint car racing at an affordable price.
"We have new people calling us all the time that want to move up from another class or want to start out in a sprint car and they don't know what to buy. They're not sure about whether they have enough money," Davis said. "Historically, the people doing their first sprint car don't really know anything about it so they end up buying everything twice and it's the wrong stuff, so they have a whole garage full of stuff and still aren't ready to race. We thought if we could get one new person a year off on the right foot, and they see that it doesn't cost a fortune to get started, and that person helps out one new person, pretty soon we'll have a really full field and we will have met our goal."
This article appeared in the April 4, 2009 edition of the N'West Iowa REVIEW.