116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Ferocity is sizzling at Hawkeye Downs Speedway.
For Hornets division points leader Ian Pate, the intensity is “exhilarating.”
“I love it,” Pate said. “Two races to go. Going into the home stretch with the points lead is really exciting. I’m thrilled to be there.”
Pate took second Friday in a Hornets feature race, which featured a wreck just two laps in that took out four of the 12 drivers, including Chad Vozenilek, who entered the contest tied with Pate in points.
“I feel sorry for Chad,” Pate said. “I hope he’s OK and I hope he’s able to get the car back together. I much would’ve rather had Chad battling door-to-door with me at the end of the race.”
Fortunately for Pate, he was ahead of the crash.
“I saw Emma Hanson lose the back end of her car and get sideways,” Pate said. “Due to where I was, I was able to get underneath of it before she got to the bottom of the track. So the real melee happened behind me.
“I wasn’t really aware of what exactly happened during that. It was a pretty tense start.”
All drivers involved walked away from the crash.
Elliot Vogel entered Friday’s contest just four points behind Pate and Vozenilek. Vogel stayed close with Pate all race. And fortunately for Vogel, like Pate, he avoided the crash and finished fourth, keeping himself in the mix for the points lead.
“Things got pretty tense between me and Elliot there,” Pate said. “Battling door-to-door for position is really what this is all about. We try to do it a little gently most of the season, but as things get toward the end of the season it gets a little more tense.”
With two races left, Pate, 49, said he’s glad to be back behind the wheel this year.
Pate, a Cedar Rapids resident, first raced Hornets in 2010 and was named “Rookie of the Year” at Hawkeye Downs after finishing 10th in a field of 26 cars.
After taking a year off from racing and then returning for a partial season in 2012, Pate has been involved with the class, but in a non-racing capacity, helping set up and crew cars.
This year, with a new inspiration, he decided it was time for him to “get back in the ring.”
“In 2019, my father-in-law passed away,” Pate said. “Last November, my mother passed away. They were both big inspirations to me and one of the things, especially my mother, really encouraged was my racing. I decided that it was not maybe now-or-never, but I’m definitely not getting any younger. So it was a good time to get into it and give it another shot. I’ve kind of dedicated the car in memory of them.”
Pate said he’s also had plenty of support in getting back behind the wheel from his wife and three children.
He added that his youngest daughter, Sophie, has developed a “strong desire” to be the next one to drive Pate’s car, should he decide to step back next year.
“She’s gunning for the driver’s seat, maybe next year even,” Pate said. “She’ll be 14.”
“Who knows, maybe she’ll have a championship winning car to pilot around the track.”