116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It appears there isn’t much Jacob Tiegen can’t conquer.
In the past week, Tiegen took on final exams in sociology, metals (welding), algebra II and biology.
Oh, and Tiegen, 17, is the current points leader in the Legends class at Hawkeye Downs Speedway.
“I’ve kind of had a lot going on between keeping my grades up in school and at the same time, trying to keep this car going fast,” Tiegen said.
That’s a bit of an understatement.
Tiegen, of Marion, entered Friday night’s contest having won both of his first two races in the Legends class at Hawkeye Down. He’s also won two races at Jefferson Speedway in Jefferson, Wis., this season.
After winning his heat Friday, Tiegen started the feature race in the 13 spot. Tiegen moved all the way up to second, but couldn’t quite get around the No. 6 car driven by Austin Slabaugh.
“I tried to get going underneath him a few times,” Tiegen said. “I actually got my nose down there a few times, but he didn’t care.”
The rhythm of the race was thrown off a bit due to three separate caution periods during the 20-lap feature.
“I think it was mostly because there was some moisture on the track,” Tiegen said. “It’s sporadic. You never know when it’s going to hit.”
The final restart came with just two laps to go with Tiegen sitting in second place.
“Coing into that last restart, I had to try something so I went to the outside, just hoping that I could get a good restart,” Tiegen said. “It just didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to.”
Tiegen ended up finishing third, which was sufficient to preserve his name atop the points leaderboard in the Legends class.
“If we can keep this momentum up, I’m sure we can take the track championship,” he said.
Tiegen admitted the biggest challenge through the first three weeks of the season has been finding time to focus on his schoolwork and his car.
Now that he’s completed his schoolwork for the academic year, he plans to shift gears and concentrate solely on racing.
“I’m going to be able to focus on racing a lot more,” Tiegen said. “And probably get even more deadly, if that’s possible.”
This year marks Tiegen’s fifth racing at Hawkeye Downs. Entering the 2022 season, Tiegen had just one first-place finish.
“The 30 races that we did last year across the entire Midwest, I only got one win,” he said. “But this year, we’ve been racing all over and I’ve won four of the races I’ve entered.”
Tiegen attributed a lot of his 2022 success to the support of his family and the help of his father, Dan, who prepares his car for races.
“It goes to show how hard me and my dad work to make that car fast,” Tiegen said. “It’s really nice to know that all the hard work pays off.”
In addition to simply having more experience under his belt, Tiegen believes a lot of his success this year stems from his offseason training and a new mentorship.
“I’ve used iRacing a lot,” Tiegen said. “It’s pretty much a simulator. They go out and laser scan the tracks. And then I have a force feedback wheel that sits up to my computer, so whenever I feel a bump in the track I can feel it in the steering wheel.”
This past year, Tiegen began a mentorship with Tim Brockhouse from Great North Legends, a team out of Minnesota.
“Tim has been racing Legend cars since before I was born,” Tiegen said. “So he’s kind of been mentoring me and making sure that our car is fast every week. If I ever have trouble with the handling in my car, I can call him and he’ll pick up right away.
“In 2020, we were probably top 10 (in a race) if we were lucky. Once we got hooked up with Tim, it got to the point where I got upset if I wasn’t in the top five. He really turned our program around.”
Tiegen also traveled to Florida in February to compete at Winter Nationals.
“That’s where the best of the best, everybody who’s anybody is down there racing,” Tiegen said. “It’s just super tight competition. The cars are a handful to drive.”
While Tiegen’s offseason approach has changed a bit, his racing style and his superstitions have remained the same.
“I grew up and I always watched how Kevin Harvick drives and actually, a lot of my driving style comes from him,” Tiegen said. “Harvick’s nickname is ‘Mr. Where-Did-He-Come-From?’ It’s like a really passive driving style, but he’s always ready to make an aggressive move if he needs to.
“My whole thing is, I’m always there, I’m always waiting for someone in front of me to make a mistake. And then the second someone makes the tiniest mistake, I’m there.”
As for his race day superstitions …
“I always have to have my lucky Peace Tea before I race,” Tiegen said. “If my pit pass (wristband) is on my left, it’s bad luck. So, it has to be on my right arm.”
Tiegen, who’s been racing at Hawkeye Downs since he was 13, admitted even though he’s had an abundance of success this year, his favorite racing memory still is his first win at Hawkeye Downs, which came last July.
“As I come out of turn four to take the checkered flag, I’m already smiling,” said Tiegen. “I can already hear my mom yelling. Like I can’t ‘hear her,’ but I can ‘hear her.’
“It was just crazy because we’ve been going to Hawkeye Downs since I was really little. And to climb out of my car and just be standing down there in Victory Lane where all those people stood there before, it was just a surreal feeling.”
Now that winning has become more routine for Tiegen, he hopes to keep building on this season’s early success.
“Look for the (No.) 7 in Victory Lane,” Tiegen.