Auto Racing

Cedar Rapids' Zach Ralston chasing NASCAR dream

Local driver racing in ARCA Series on Thursday

Zach Ralston of Cedar Rapids checks out his car in the garage while getting ready for testing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. (Grace Kenrich)
Zach Ralston of Cedar Rapids checks out his car in the garage while getting ready for testing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. (Grace Kenrich)
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Zach Ralston has a full-time job, actually owns his own tiling business.

He also is a racecar driver from Cedar Rapids with a dream — a very expensive dream, he admits.

“My goals is to make it to the NASCAR (Camping World) Truck Series,” he said during a phone interview from Charlotte, N.C., taking a break from preparations for Thursday’s ARCA Racing Series General Tire 150.

“I’d love to run Xfinity and Cup, too.”

The road to that NASCAR dream can be long and bumpy for any driver, especially one footing most of the expenses himself.

“I work my 9 to 5 (tiling job), then come home and work my 5 to 10 or 12,” he said. “It’s a huge balance.”

One that doesn’t provide a lot of time for sleep.

“I don’t need that,” he said with a laugh.

Ralston, 31, grew up in Springville, graduated from Anamosa High School and now lives in Cedar Rapids. He’s been calling Charlotte home the past month while testing his car and gaining experience for his 2018 ARCA debut.

“I’ve even picked up some tiling jobs,” he said.

Racing isn’t a full-time job — yet — but it is a 24/7 passion.

“I’m just thankful I get to do this,” he said. “I have the talent for it. I want to show the people my talent.”

He went to Charlotte at the request of Andy Hillenburg, a former driver who owns Fast Track Racing Enterprises, which has a team in the truck series. Ralston went south to do some testing, but impressed Hillenburg and others enough to get a spot in Thursday’s race.

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“Zach did a great job at the Charlotte test and we are gradually building a stronger program with him as a part of our team,” Hillenburg said in a release.

Ralston started racing in the ARCA Series in 2012, but took a break after the 2013 season and worked on a pit crew.

“I wanted to be a driver,” he said.

He got back behind the wheel last year, racing in three of the 20 ARCA races. To take that next step he needs to perform Thursday and beyond.

And, he said, “I truly need a full-time sponsor.

“I‘m going to use my own income to keep racing,” he said, but is looking for someone who wants “to jump on board with the underdog.”

Ralston loves the singularity racing provides.

“I love the competitiveness more than anything else,” he said. “It takes a team to get there, but then it’s all on my shoulders.”

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

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