116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Nathan Chandler started racing in the Hornet division in 2007 at age 22 with his father Mervin and his brothers, Dallas and Brad.
Starting this season Chandler's oldest son, 12-year-old Tallan, is following in the family footsteps and competing at Hawkeye Downs Speedway as part of a large rookie class of Hornets.
"We spoke with seven or eight different race tracks about Tallan racing before we built a car," Chandler said. "Hawkeye Downs was the only one that was able to get approval with their insurance and we're thankful for that. It's also helpful to have more than one rookie to help build the class."
IMCA, which is the governing body for most local dirt tracks, allows drivers to compete after their 14th birthday.
As a 22-year-old rookie, Nathan did not immediately dominate.
"I thought I was going to go out there and win the first race," said Chandler, who lives in Norway. "The problem was everyone else had already been there and done it before."
That's a lesson Nathan is teaching his son. Tallan has three races under his belt, all Top 10 finishes. He stands fifth in the points standings with 88, 10 behind leader Kurt Bohnsack of Ely.
"I'm not expecting him to win races but if he can that'd be awesome," Chandler said. "He's working to stay on the lead lap and be competitive with the guys that have been doing it for multiple years."
While Tallan's mother Bj has spent years at tracks around Iowa watching Nathan race, it's different with her son.
"When (Nathan) is out there I'm not worried about him and I'm not really into it," Bj said. "I've actually started to like going with Tallan racing."
With safety being the key to continued racing, Chandler built Tallan's car like a speedy tank with a tiny driver.
"The car is pretty much identical to what we would build for ourselves or for a customer," Chandler said. "I did take a lot of extra time making sure everything is right, mainly the fit issues with the roll cage and the seat because he is so much smaller than a normal adult."
Eventually Nathan would like to join Tallan on the Hawkeye Downs half-mile and share the similar experience to what he and his brothers got racing with their father.
"It's awesome to watch him do something that my father and I have done," Chandler said. "I wish my dad was here to see the stages he's gone through from Go Karts to here. I get more nervous watching him but hopefully I can get out there and race next to him."
Weekly racing resumes at Hawkeye Downs tonight. Gates open at 6 p.m. with hot laps at 6:30.