116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Last week at Farley, the Huff family got to race with father (John), son (Ian) and grandfather (Brad) all on the same track at once.
“I was supposed to start in front of grandpa, but they waved him up next to me,” Ian said. “I couldn’t help but smile. It’s special because not everyone’s dad and grandpa can jump into a racecar and compete the way they do.”
Huff Racing owns over a dozen nostalgia racecars, built to pay respect to former area drivers Brad encountered since his days as a boy at Hawkeye Downs (where thunderstorms wiped out racing Friday night). That’s where his mother, Marcella, managed the concession stands for 25 years and his uncle, John Fare, worked the track.
Brad started working at the track himself in 1965 and started racing in the 1981 season once he got his own car, a 1966 Chevelle, he bought for $50 at a salvage yard.
That car lasted 11 seasons before Brad took three years off when John’s mother, Rexana, got sick.
After she died, the father and son found their way back to racing.
“We started building nostalgia cars, and at one time, we had 18 of them,” Brad said. “But I always say that family comes first before any racecar.”
Now the Huff family celebrates the rare chances they get to race together with father, John, officiating as the flag man for Hawkeye Downs on Fridays and Benton County Speedway on Sundays.
“In reality, I should have stupid written on my forehead for racing at my age,” said the nearly 72-year-old patriarch, Brad. “We’re doing it for the fun and I’m damn proud of them.”
Brad taught John, who is now teaching Ian, to “race hard and clean and be respectful.”
The trio, who admittedly share the same “hardheadedness,” say that motto applies to each other, as well.
“My dad and I have had some arguments about the cars, and still do,” John said. “But to this day, we still work side-by-side.”
Not only do the Huffs work well together in the garage, Brad has become an asset in Ian’s pit area since John is usually in the flag stand where he has to remain unbiased.
“Some of the best races I had last year were when grandpa was there and could help me after hot laps,” Ian said. “At first I wouldn’t listen, but after a couple laps of my way not working, I tried it his way. I couldn’t believe how much better the car felt doing it his way. It’s taught me to not be so hardheaded. He did it for 30 years, so he knows a lot more than me.”
The next family goal is to get John’s brother Jamie, who has his own car, in a race so all of the Huff men can race together.
“When it starts to feel like a job, it’s not fun, but we still work on (our cars) almost every night,” Ian said. “It’s something to do as a family.”