Auto Racing

Auto racing kicking off in Eastern Iowa - finally

Season delayed by long winter starts in Tipton, Vinton

Cars take hot laps at the 22nd annual Hogan Memorial at the Benton County Speedway in Vinton last summer. The racing season starts again on Sunday, (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cars take hot laps at the 22nd annual Hogan Memorial at the Benton County Speedway in Vinton last summer. The racing season starts again on Sunday, (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The first two words out of Mick Trier’s mouth were music to his ears.

“We’re racing,” he said.

A lot Eastern Iowa auto racing tracks have had to postpone their scheduled openers after a brutal winter leaked too much snow and too much cold into the spring.

“I’ve been in this business for 25 years and this is the worst spring,” said Trier, the promoter at Benton County Speedway in Vinton. “This has been a tough one.”

Benton was scheduled to host its first weekly points races last Sunday, but the track wasn’t quite ready and the thermometer dipped a little too low.

“You just have to wait for Mother Nature to cooperate,” Trier said.

It looks like she will do just that this weekend. The forecast has temperatures in the 70s with, at least, partly sunny skies.

Independence Motor Speedway wasn’t so lucky. The bad weather has set track preparations back and the season-opener, scheduled for Saturday, was pushed back a week. IMS will now open next Saturday with a car show and Deery Brothers Late Model special.

That 33rd running of this IMCA series kicks off its season Saturday at Cedar County Raceway in Tipton with a $2,000-to-win feature. Pit gates open at 4 p.m., the grandstand at 5. Racing starts at 7 p.m. after hot laps. Justin Kay of Wheatland is the defending champ and has won the last four series races.

Races start at Benton County Speedway on Sunday at 6 p.m. Gates open at 4 with hot laps at 5:30. Once again, the track will offer racing in IMCA late models, modifieds, stock cars, sport mods, hobby stock, legends, sports compacts and micro mods.

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While other tracks have suffered through low car counts and attendance in the stands, Benton has thrived.

“It’s not like it was 20 years ago, but it’s still really good,” Trier said. “We have good racers and good races.

“No reason to change.”

Trier expects a lot of cars on Sunday, some regulars as well as those wanting to get on the track before the Hogan Memorial in July.

“We’ve been getting exploded from racers just itching to get going,” he said. “I look for quite a few cars.”

Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids kicks of its 94th season with a car show April 27. The event is free and runs from 10 a.m. until noon with several drivers showing off their cars and signing autographs. Cars will be on the track from noon to 3 p.m. for an open practice.

The season starts May 3.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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