116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VINTON — After six seasons on the asphalt track at Hawkeye Downs, Braxton Franks and his crew have shifted to dirt.
“We were planning on racing sportsmen full time again this year,” Franks said. “We went to Johnny’s (Spaw) to buy some front-end parts after getting dinged up at the Bahama Brackets and he told us there was a stock car for sale.”
Braxton and his dad Brian, who both raced their entire careers on asphalt, talked it over for a few days and then made the purchase.
“We really had no intentions of going dirt this year,” Franks said. “It just kind of fell in place.”
Now Franks and his team are quickly trying to learn the ins and outs of a new set of tracks, including Independence and Benton County speedways.
“It’s just a big learning curve,” Franks said. “Not only for me, but my whole crew who spent six seasons on asphalt and had things dialed in. Dirt is just a totally different ball game.”
The 20-year-old is not making this change in jest — he plans on being on dirt for the rest of his career.
“I’m very excited, I’ve wanted to go dirt racing for the last 18 months,” Franks said. “I tried convincing my dad, but he was iffy about it, just because he knew it was going to be a whole different learning experience. He doesn’t want to get lapped and be in the back all of the time.”
So far with two runs at The Bullring and one at Indee, Franks is starting to figure it out.
Last week at Independence, the 2020 Prairie graduate started sixth and finished 12th and was more than pleased with the results.
“I avoided two big wrecks and brought the car home in one piece,” Franks said. “It would be nice to finish in the top five or 10 every night, but as of right now, we are just trying to learn.”
With several of the most experienced and popular drivers competing in the Stock Car division, Franks knows he is able to absorb the knowledge around him.
“It’s a very tough class to start in and that’s why we chose to go with that,” Franks said. “If we start racing with some of the best guys out there, we can learn a lot and hopefully become one of them to the younger generations.”
Week 2 of weekly racing at Benton County Speedway begins Sunday in Vinton, with pits and grandstands open at 4 p.m., hot laps scheduled for 5:30 and racing at 6.