IOWA CITY — Every year at the IMCA Super Nationals at Boone Speedway, the sanctioning body honors one car/driver/team in each division for Best Looking Car during the weeklong racing event with a trophy and $200 prize.
This season IMCA chose a “Represent Your State” theme. At least two drivers have released photos of their decal wraps, and a pair of drivers in Modified and Northern Sport Mod divisions will have Iowa Hawkeyes football riding with them to show pride in being from Iowa.
The first one to leak out onto social media, and easily the most intricate decal wrap, belongs to Western Iowa driver Cody Knecht, of Whittemore. The IMCA Modified driver has a wrap honoring former Iowa and New York Giants defensive back Tyler Sash. From front to back, photos of the dynamic Sash are plastered on the car, and Knecht’s number, 49k, has the “9” enlarged.
Knecht, in his first season in Modified, said this was a no-brainer when the contest theme was announced.
“We knew that we had to do something,” Knecht said. “I really enjoyed watching him play. I always followed him.
“It’s just a Hawkeye thing. Growing up in the Hawkeye nation, I followed the players and Tyler was one of my favorites. It’s a memorial to try to represent the state and Tyler Sash.”
Knecht, like so many racers in Iowa, has long been a Hawkeyes fan and was racing at Super Nationals last year when the news broke that 27-year-old Sash had died at his home in Oskaloosa.
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As much as having the Hawkeyes’ Tigerhawk logo on the side of the car, Knecht said the Sash tribute brings “a lot of pride to have the opportunity to honor an amazing athlete.”
He didn’t reach out to Iowa or anyone beyond Sybesma Graphics, and Brent Licata, the designer who designed and produced the wrap, but hopes those close to Sash or the football program enjoy it, should they see it. He’s heard from a host of people already, and the feedback has been tremendous and overwhelming.
“My phone has been non-stop,” Knecht said. “I bet I had 200 messages overnight. A lot of Hawkeye fans and Facebook pages reached out. Everyone says we have the contest locked down, so I hope so, too.”
Knecht got kudos from the other driver who’s taking an Iowa Hawkeyes-themed car to Boone, as well. Clarence driver Ben Chapman, who won the IMCA Sport Mod main event at the Hogan Memorial at Benton County Speedway in Vinton back in July, said he was very impressed with how Knecht’s wrap turned out.
Luckily for them both, their Hawkeyes-themed cars won’t have to compete with each other for the contest.
While Knecht’s car is a tribute, Chapman’s car is more a play on the fun of being a Hawkeyes fan, he said. The nose of the car features head coach Kirk Ferentz and quarterback C.J. Beathard’s heads photoshopped onto the American Gothic painting — another Eastern Iowa nod, this to Grant Wood. Additionally, on the side of the car, Chapman’s No. 1 has a photo of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery in it.
Chapman said the ideas were a mix of his and designers Mallet Meyer and Emily Gade of Revelation Racing Wraps and Apparel in Clarence. He’s making his first trip to Super Nationals to race — he’d attended many times to watch — and said Meyer and Gade talked him into the special wrap for his first trip.
“(The American Gothic thing) was all Emily. She kind of mentioned it to me as a joke at first, and I was like, ‘You know what, go for it. I think it’d be a hit.’ It’s turned out to be quite the hit.
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“The (McCaffery photo) was my idea. I kept remembering back to pictures of Fran, and I wanted to do something with that. People love it. They want it on T-shirts and stuff. I’ve had quite a few people tell me they love it.”
Voting for the contest will be Tuesday in the Fan Zone south of the main grandstand at Boone Speedway for the Hobby Stocks and Northern SportMods. Modified and Stock Car best looking car entries will pull onto the front stretch and winners will be determined by fan response during pre-race ceremonies on Saturday, Sept. 10.
Winners receive $200 courtesy of Golden Empire Towing, as well as a trophy. Every driver or team that brings a car with a special paint scheme — in any class — will get a $100 gift card courtesy of Speedway Motors.
And while the wraps are meant to show off pride in one’s home state, that doesn’t mean they’re going to baby the cars. The racers are there to win more than a contest, after all.
“No, I won’t race any different (because of the wrap), absolutely not,” Chapman said. “I’ve already come to terms with the fact that it won’t look the same.”
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