Sunday, March 18, 2018

Our newest sprint car driver

Another week, another driver who will be racing an IMCA legal race car this coming season for the first time. 14-year old Trey Gropp is, as the last couple of interviewees were, no stranger to racing.
"My dad raced a little bit when he was younger. He raced Late Models, modifieds, trucks, dwarf cars, stock cars and all that good stuff. I started in a cage kart at Mini-E Speedway and another track in 2007. So, that's 10 years for me".
Deciding to forego a sport compact, hobby stock or even a modified, he decided to jump into IMCA racing with both feet by competing in a Racesaver IMCA Sprint Car. "It's been a dream of mine ever since I was little. I moved from cage karts to a micro-sprint, and just decided to go to a sprint car now. I've never raced a sprint yet. I hot-lapped Stu Snyder's sprint one time, and I can't thank him enough for the opportunity. Stu even said he was proud of me for turning sa faster lap then he did".
I asked if he was looking forward to racing at Eagle, Trey said "Oh yeah; I can't wait! I'm going in there with basically no expectations and just going to see how we can do".

I asked what he hoped to accomplish in his first year in the sprinter. "I hope that we can learn a lot and that it makes me a better driver, racing against all of the great drivers out at Eagle. I think we'll run for points at Eagle Raceway this season and see how we can do. Then we might try to travel a little bit".
He wanted to be sure to thank everyone that has helped in this new adventure. "I need to say thank you to my Grandma and Grandpa Kruse, my Mom and Dad. All of the sponsors who made it possible for me to get the car ready for the track every week too. There's Mason Racin', Ron Fox, Kiss Cars, Hot Kote 751, East 'O' Storage, Nature's Variety, Spanel Racing Engines, J.J.N.J, Sardeson Racing, Keizer Wheels, Rosy's Raceland, Walker Performance Air Filters, King Racing Products, BR Motorsports, Harris Decals and Hilites Salon. Also Keith Hightshoe and Brandon Hightshoe from Hightshoe Racing helped out a lot".
In closing Trey wanted to let everyone know that "We'll have a young kid coming to Eagle every once in awhile from Missouri who has CHD. His name is Evan and he's just 5 years old. He'll be there in the stands rooting for us".
In this his 11th season of racing, he has a large task ahead of him, but with all of the time he's spent in the seat of a race car, I think this young man has a great future awaiting him as he starts this new adventure.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Rowan Mason

This week I spoke with Rowan Mason, 18, from Lincoln who is going to be making his first turns on the high banks of Eagle Raceway this year. He is no stranger to the friendly confines, however. He spent 4 years racing cage karts beginning at 14 and running them through last season. "I struggled through the first couple of years and didn't come up with any championships. But, the last two years we were able to pull off around 10 wins and last year I finally got my first win at Mini-E Raceway. Now we're making the jump up to the IMCA Hobby Stock Class". 

I mentioned that was quite a jump from a cage kart to a Hobby Stock. "I'm the first one in my family that actually wanted to get involved in racing. It's kind of an interesting move, but I'm fortunate in that all of my family is right there supporting me. I've enjoyed watching the Hobby Stocks ever since I've been coming out to Eagle Raceway, which is quite a few years. I watched all of the other races, but the Hobby Stocks have always been a very fine, competitive class that always seemed to put on a good show and it's the class that I've always wanted to get involved with. I'm really happy to get the chance to be involved with that great competition. I'm going to be running an Assasin Chassis this season. I got a chance to make some laps at a practice night, and it was awesome!! There was a LOT of learning, and I'm looking forward to getting a lot more laps turned on the track". 

When I asked how he thought it would be to race on the high banks at Eagle, he said "I can hardly imagine how different that’s going to be!". 
Then I inquired as to whether or not he had picked out his number. "#28. There's no significance to the number. I was just thinking about what one to use and 28 just sounded like a cool number. So, I went with it". 

As for help on the car he stated "My Uncle Monty is by far my biggest help, and I can't thank him enough. Matt Gropp, Zach Way; I mean there's just a lot of guys helping us out this year. I need to thank my sponsors too; Big Red Tire Pros, Daily Driver Auto Care, Elite Welding and Fabrication, KS Lawn Care, Demon Decals, Blackmax Asphalt, Assassin Chassis and Full Curl Duck Camp. I couldn't do this without all of them". 

I finished by asking what his goals were for his rookie season. "My goal is to just improve after every race, making sure that we make good use of our time on the track, using that time wisely; just learning and getting better each week. I'd love to get a feature win, a top 10 in points or Rookie of the Year, but the main goal is just to learn. Hopefully I keep getting better and better for my second season". 
It sounds like this young man knows what he wants and how to get there. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Braydon Thornton

For the past 6 weeks we've been learning more about the 2017 Eagle Raceway points champions. But today, we will be going in a completely different direction. We are going to get to know a little bit about a young man who is making his first official runs on the big high-banked 1/3 mile. 

Braydon Thornton, 14 from Nebraska City is no stranger to Eagle Raceway, having spent seven years running at Little E Raceway in the go-karts. "It's been fun throughout the years; meeting new people, and it's been quite an adventure. I got quite a few wins over the years, and even got a championship in Junior 1". 

When the subject turned to his racing an IMCA Sport Compact, I inquired about what number his car was going to be. "I'll be racing the 21T. I got the number from my Dad, who raced compacts for years. I will be racing a 2000 Ford Focus this year. I'm excited, especially for the new adventure that it's going to be". 

Asked about his father's racing, he said "We watched him a lot! It was pretty cool, watching him race. And now I get to follow in his footsteps. My Dad and my family will be there helping out as my pit crew". 

He wanted to be sure to thank his sponsors, who made it possible for him to advance his racing efforts. "I want to thank Henry Motors, Elite Welding and Fabrication, Status Chassis, Hoffman Racing, Take-it-eash, Kiner Contracting, CW Woodworking, King Ranch and KS Lawn Care. My goal is to win a Feature this year, to thank everybody for all that they've done to make this possible". 

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Shane Hiatt. 2017 Eagle Raceway Modified Champion

33-year old Shane Hiatt from Rising City is your 2017 IMCA Modified Champion at Eagle Raceway.  

Although he did not start racing until 2006 when he strapped into a Hobby Stock, he was no stranger to dirt track racing. "Ever since I was a kid I wanted to drive a race car. When we were growing up my Dad helped Tom Svoboda, and that's how I got hooked on it; going to Tom's shop with Dad, watching them work on stuff. Then going to the races with them all over heck. The funny thing is that it was kind of a secret when I got my first car. I used to race 4-wheelers with my buddies. I heard that a guy was wanting to trade his turn-key Hobby Stock for a 4-wheeler. So, my buddy and I went over there to Iowa and traded my 4-wheeler for his race car. I brought it home and my parents freaked out! 'What are you doing?? This is going to be expensive!! You shouldn't be doing this!!!'. But; it didn't take long for them to get hooked on it too. It seemed like after my first couple of races they were asking 'Where are we going next? When are you going to race next?? Let's go here; let's go there!!!'. At the beginning they didn't really like the idea, because they knew that it was going to cost a lot of money and it was going to take a lot of time. But now they're really hooked on it and it's been a family deal ever since. Ever since then my mom and dad and my wife and kids are at the races. I don't think that my parents ever missed a race of mine". 

"I started out racing a Hobby Stock at Eagle Raceway, and raced that until 2008. That was the first thing I ever drove competitively. We were pretty successful in the Hobby Stock class. We decided that we wanted to win a championship in the Hobby Stock before we moved up a class. We finally did that at US 30 Speedway, so we decided to make the jump to a modified. We might have gone to a B Mod, but there weren't a lot of B Mods around at that time. So, we decided to go with the modified and try that out". 

I asked if he were enjoying the modified more than the hobby stock. "Oh yeah. When we first started in the modified there was a lot to learn for sure. We struggled at the beginning, because the thing was that nobody in my family had ever raced before".  

How about racing at Eagle Raceway. "I love it! See, that's the thing; going to watch Tom Svoboda, that was my favorite track. I've been going to Eagle ever since I could walk. Mom would take my brother and I up into the stands and Dad would go help Tom in the pits. When I first started racing I told myself 'If I could just win a feature there, that would be awesome!!! If I could just get a win there it would be great'. We grew up at Eagle. The history behind it and all of the great racers who raced there. I started winning a few in the Hobby Stock and then some in the modified. We came close a few years to winning the track points, but just came up short. But, it was always our goal to win a track championship there. That would top it all off for us. It was what we always wanted to do; to be able to win the championship at Eagle has been a life-long dream of mine. I feel very humble to just be able to finally get it done; especially after all of the work put out by my family, my crew guys and all of those other people who help out. It was just a really awesome deal". 
I then questioned him about what was different this year that led to him finally getting his dream fulfilled. "I think the biggest thing was that we've always been consistent, but this year it didn't seem like we had the bad luck at the end of the season like we did in the past. There were times in the past where we had a 10 point lead or so. We'd end up breaking a gear and lose the points on the last night, or in 2016 we got caught up in a wreck and couldn't finish the feature and ended up losing the points that way. It seemed like the last 2 nights of the season we would have bad luck and come up just short. We've always been right there and been consistent. I think that the last 3 years we led the points up until the last week or so, but then had bad luck or something until this year". 

As for his plans for this coming season, he said "We'll be doing pretty much the same thing. We'll definitely be at Eagle weekly, just like we've always done. This year we have a sponsor who wants us to run another track on Fridays, so we decided that we'll be doing that also. We'll try to hit some of the local specials that don't interfere with us racing at Eagle too". 

He finished by saying "I've got to thank all of my sponsors that have helped us out through the years. We couldn't have done this without them. Also, I want to thank my parents, my wife and my brother. Of course, all of my crew guys. I couldn't be successful without all of them. It just wouldn't work".