116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VINTON — Sometimes you can only sit and watch for so long before you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get involved. That’s the executive decision that Noah Beenken of Waterloo made earlier this year when attending races at Benton County Speedway, where he’s spent his summer Sunday nights since he was a toddler.
“I’ve always been into racing, but I’ve never had the money to do it,” said Beenken, who turns 19 Monday. “We came to the Frostbuster race here and were sitting in the stands. I looked at my buddy and I looked at my bank account and I said, ‘You know what? It’s time.’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘I’m buying a racecar.’ That led us here.”
Simple as that.
Well, the first car Beenken bought was a 1999 Nissan Altima that he “blew up the first night out.”
That’s when backup arrived.
Beenken’s grandparents Scott and Connie Petersen, also from Waterloo, are best friends with longtime racer Troy Cordes from nearby Dunkerton.
So Beenken grew up around the racing community and had a 2001 Ford Escort that’s completely stock donated by Brandon Sanders. He got a roll cage from Dickinson Cages and his good friend Jake Weekly spent a week welding it in for safety.
Now Beenken is celebrating the last of his teen years by living his dreams, although he says there is more to come.
“I’ll probably do this the rest of my life,” Beenken said. “Long term with racing, I want to get into a bigger car and see where it takes me. I chase my dreams no matter what, racing is just one example. If I want something, I go and get it.”
One thing Beenken has wanted since he was a child is the respect of other drivers, something he’s enjoying earning.
“When you show up and feel welcomed as a driver, it’s totally different than being in the stands,” Beenken said. “In the stands you don’t know what’s really going on, but having respect from another driver, it’s a different feeling.”
Beenken doesn’t want to hoard that feeling. He wants more drivers to come join in the fun like he did.
“It’s nerve-wracking because as a fan you see all of the crashes and it’s scary,” said Beenken, who registered a DNF in Sunday night’s 12-lap feature race. “But, once you get out there, it’s the time of your life. The adrenaline is crazy and just having a car where it’s not supposed to be feels good.”