Auto Racing

Nathan Ballard successfully fills in at Hawkeye Downs

Ballard wins hornets race again in Martin Schulte's car

CEDAR RAPIDS — No matter the car or the surface, Nathan Ballard usually comes out of a race at or near the top.

Ballard has been running at Hawkeye Downs in the hornets division as a favor to a friend, Martin Schulte, who owns the car and builds engines for Ballard’s cars.

“I basically jumped into this to help the guy who builds my engines,” he said of his reason for driving Schulte’s car. “He owns this car. He wanted me to get it close so he knew when he jumped in if it was him or the car. I just jumped in it to help him out a little bit.”

Ballard’s primary driving comes on Sunday nights in the hobby stock division on the dirt surface at Benton County Speedway in Vinton, but he has been a force in his temporary stint at Hawkeye Downs.

For the third time this season, Ballard took top honors in the hornets feature before a large crowd on “Free Night” at the track. He again held off Dallas Chandler in the feature.

Even though he has three straight victories, Ballard’s time at Hawkeye Downs, at least as a regular, may be coming to an end.

“(Friday) might be the last night or I might come back another week,” he said. “It’s week by week. Whenever (Schulte) wants to jump in it, I’ll jump out.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The hornets series has been dominated by Ballard and Chandler, with the other drivers playing catch-up.

“Chandler has been pretty much unstoppable out here,” Ballard said. “He’s a pretty good driver on the quarter mile. I just have a lot of experience here around this quarter mile. I’ve probably got close to 100 wins here at Hawkeye Downs. I know my way around here and that helps a lot.”

Ballard has been equally successful on the dirt at Vinton this season. The Marengo native has three wins in six feature races. He likes driving on both surfaces.

“All in all, I like asphalt. I like to come back and drive (at Hawkeye Downs) when I can,” he said. “On asphalt, you can get a lot closer to your competition. On dirt, you have to give a lot more room because you never know how a guy is going to enter the corner. They could be sliding around so you have to account for that.”

Ballard comes from a racing family. His dad, Tom, helped a cousin of Ballard’s for 10 years and he got hooked.

“Once I turned 15, I decided I wanted to race,” he said. “My dad had the know how to get the cars close. Right off the bat, I just clicked. My first race in a hornet, I won.

“My dad has never missed any race I have run,” he added.

Now 28, Ballard has become one of the most consistent drivers in Eastern Iowa. He credits his support team and sponsors from giving him what he needs to be successful on the track.

“I just run good everywhere and a lot of that has to do with the behind-the-scenes work,” he said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

Once he finishes his time in Schulte’s car, Ballard said he would be open to more racing this season at Hawkeye Downs.

“I usually just drive for my dad,” he said, “but if opportunities come up, I’ll take them.”

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

CONTINUE READING

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.