116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - Tim Dwight has worn a helmet plenty of times, and he is no stranger to being fast.
This time it was behind the wheel of a race car instead of on the football field or an eight-lane track.
Dwight agreed to auto racing a shot, to go along with his many athletic achievements, and competed in a celebrity Legends car race Friday night during Van Meter Industrial Night at Hawkeye Downs Speedway. The employee evening was also a charity event to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network at the University of Iowa Hospitals.
The former Iowa City High and University of Iowa football and track star finished second in the three-car celebrity contest. Van Meter executive Mike Gassman won the race that also included TV personality Jared Aarons. Former University of Northern Iowa wide receiver Eddie Berlin, who played five years in the National Football League, was supposed to be in the celebrity race, but a late work conflict forced him to miss the event.
Dwight used his experience riding motorcycles to get acclimated to Legends cars. He managed to get some practice in over the last few weeks and even participated in an exhibition race.
"It's awesome," Dwight said after the race. "I know what kind of speed and power these cars are. they're fun."
Dwight started slow, but took the lead after a few laps and seemed to be pulling away. His lead was eclipsed when Aarons spun out in the fourth turn twice in the last six laps, allowing Gassman to take the lead after the restart. Gassman held on for the win. Dwight spoke like a veteran, breaking down his performance.
"It's tricky," Dwight said. "You've got to get out there and know tracks. The track was squirelly tonight."
Dwight, who is competing in a Ironman triathlon next week, enjoyed the competition and being involved in the fundraising. The goal is to make the most of chances to do great things. He said he will enjoy looking back at the pictures and reliving Friday night.
"It's about experiences," Dwight said. "This is a great one (and) something I've never done before."
Dwight was racing just to get to the track. He spent the day in Iowa City, conducting a football camp in his hometown. Dwight had to forgo any practice, arriving at the track and immediately getting ready to jump behind the wheel for the celebrity race. He arrived at 8:10 p.m. and was ready to race 10 minutes later. Dwight recalled how he hated waiting for events when he competed in the long jump and sprints in track
"If you're here, you might as well just roll," Dwight said. "Why wait and be nervous the whole time."
The 10-year NFL veteran held his commitment to running in the fundraising event. He spends time between Iowa and California and was here three separate occasions. The original date on May 13 was rained out and so was the makeup date a week later.
"There are good people here in Iowa I want to do business with," Dwight said. "I wantg to be a part of what they're doing because its for charity
"If I can leverage my career to do great things then why not."
Dwight also contributed off the track as well, signing footballs and a helmet that were raffled and auctioned to raise money for the charity. Hundreds of dollars were raised, and Dwight spent quite awhile signing autographs, taking pictures and socializing with fans.
He even spent time track side with Sierra Manning, an 11-year-old patient at the UICH who had tghe opportunity to ride in the pace car Friday night. Manning suffers from an inoperable brain tumor, and is a prime example of the importance of the charity cause.
"They're doing great things down there," Dwight said of the Children's Miracle Network at UICH. "They're in the top two in the country in hospitals for children. It's amazing to to go down there and visit them. These kids are fighting. They're fighting for their lives and sometimes they don't even know it. They have great attitudes."
The attitude toward Dwight and his dedicated time and effort is just as complimentary.
"Tim Dwight is so amazing for our hospitals," said Michelle Altmaier, Director of Fundraising at the UICH. "He's done so much."
The regular schedule of weekly points races were held at the track.
Wall of Famer Johnny Spaw, driving the car of Arlo Becker who is also a Wall of Famer, ended Tim Plummer's win streak. Spaw won the modified feature. Plummer had won all four previous modified features. The two made contact with each other with 12 laps to go in the 20-lap feature. Plummer was sent to the back of the field, but managed third.
"To win the modified you have to out-run Timmy," said Spaw. "he was just a little quicker to the center and he just got in the back of me a little bit. He didn't mean to do it."
Plummer rebounded to capture the win in the late model feature.
Nathan Chandler became the first hornet driver to claim two feature wins this season. He experienced a new path to victory lane.
"I've never won a race on the pole," Chandler said. "It's a lot harder than it looks."
Ben Glascock earned his first feature victory, capturing first-place in the Sportsmen division.
Rod McGlothlen, driving the car Dwight ran in the celebrity race, won the Legends feature. It is his third feature win in three different cars.
Hobby stocks points leader Nathan Ballard won his fourth feature of the season.