116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Some people are stuck where they are, but not Orlan McCauley.
The soon-to-be 64-year-old (Sept. 4) grew up in Cedar Rapids and his grandparents lived in a house directly behind Hawkeye Downs.
After McCauley finished eighth grade, his parents moved to Missouri where they owned a saw mill.
That didn’t stop the Marion resident from moving back to town in 1976, once he finished high school.
“I wanted something different,” McCauley said. “I wanted to go out on my own and my aunts and uncles were still here.”
His cousins, Brad Huff and Ron Fare, were also still here and raced at Hawkeye Downs.
His family loved racing so much that his grandmother’s hero was legendary driver, Darrell Dake.
So McCauley started attending races as a fan before eventually becoming a wrecker, with Sonny Crowe, once Larry Kemp took over as the track’s promoter.
“I used to pay to come watch and now they pay me to come watch,” McCauley said. “That’s what’s fun about it.”
Although he’s having fun, McCauley takes his current job as an official very seriously.
In fact, for McCauley, it starts with the drivers.
“The respect I’ve got from the drivers, because I’ve done it so long,” McCauley said. “I know all of the people out here who race and all they are to me is a number. They respect me for that and sometimes drivers get heated. We just let them talk and burn off the steam and when it’s enough, it’s enough. Then the next week we are fine.”
Not only does McCauley understand the drivers’ perspective, they are his first priority in an emergency.
“We had a guy hit the wall last week and my first instinct is getting to him and getting him out of that car,” McCauley said.
In fact several years ago, Griffin McGrath was clipped by someone after crashing and his car started on fire.
“Still to this day, Mike McGrath thanks me,” said McCauley, who along with a firefighter pulled Griffin from his burning car. “To me, the car can be replaced, but a driver can’t.”
Now the retired tree worker of 24 years delivers parts around Eastern Iowa for Gator Truck Center and still believes he made the correct choice to move back to Cedar Rapids in 1976.
“You can’t believe how nice the Iowa people are,” McCauley said. “I came back here because this is where I was raised. Iowa is all about people who would do anything for anybody.”