116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Most 14-year-olds are preparing for their first year of high school, but soon-to-be freshman Reggie Mitchell is finally old enough to follow in his family's footsteps.
He has started racing in the Hobby Stock division at Hawkeye Downs Speedway — and is having a lot of success. He stands fourth in the point standings heading into Friday night’s races with one victory and three top-five finishes.
“It's more fun than anything,” Mitchell said. “It's nice to do something other than bowling and playing video games.”
While many young racers choose to gain seat time in go-karts until they reach the minimum age at their local track to jump into an actual car, Mitchell has focused on bowling and learning the behind-the-scenes side of racing.
“When he was just starting to walk around at age 1, I was under the car working,” said Mitchell's dad, Mike. “I looked up and he was under the car with me.”
Although Reggie migrated toward racing at an early age, the possibility of his driving career actually started in 2004 when his mother, Jody (Lana) Mitchell, decided there weren't enough women driving at Hawkeye Downs and joined the Modified division.
In 2006, Jody was looking for help working on her racecar when mutual friends introduced Jody to Mike. A year later, the Mitchells were married and on Dec. 30 of 2007, Reggie arrived.
With both parents, an older half-brother (Korey Lana), uncles on both sides and grandparents who loved and were involved with racing, Reggie soaked up every bit of his surroundings he could.
Last summer, although he was still too young to race weekly, Mitchell was given the opportunity to practice at Hawkeye Downs on Wednesdays, allowing him to add seat time to a brain already full of racing knowledge.
“This is the first thing he's driven,” Mike said. “(Reggie) doesn't even have a permit yet.”
While Reggie isn't able to drive to his first day of school at Alburnett High School in a couple of months, he was able to notch his first win in just his fifth career start.
“I started on the pole and just tried to hold my line,” Mitchell said.
After leading the first two laps, Reggie relinquished his lead but was able to regain the front spot with four laps to go in the 15-lap feature when Matt Petrzelka got sideways.
After battling down the front stretch, Mitchell's Monte Carlo passed Petrzelka in turn one.
“Oh my god, did I just do that?” said Mitchell while he held on for victory.
With emotions overflowing from the entire Mitchell team, Reggie's legs went numb as he attempted to exit his Hobby Stock. His father had to catch him as he climbed out of his car.
“He was shaking with excitement,” Mike said. “He didn't know what to do.”
More support followed from the pits as Reggie's buddy and fellow rookie, Beckett Flannagan, dropped everything and came sprinting to Victory Lane to congratulate his friend.
“I think this will make me more confident this season,” Mitchell said. “But I don't think it'll really change any of my goals.”
Jody said, “we will make sure that confidence stays in check.”