Auto Racing

Danny Lehmkuhl gets behind the wheel for 'Team Tow Money' at Hawkeye Downs

Cedar Rapids native Danny Lehmkuhl takes the front left tire off his Legendsdivision racecar Friday night at Hawkeye Dow
Cedar Rapids native Danny Lehmkuhl takes the front left tire off his Legendsdivision racecar Friday night at Hawkeye Downs during post-race inspection. (Justin Webster/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids native and 2007 Jefferson graduate Danny Lehmkuhl has a younger brother, Eric, but his five best friends are like brothers as well.

Team “Tow Money” consists of Lehmkuhl, Griffin McGrath, Michael Weber, Rusty Shadden and Kacey Korsmo with fellow friend and racer Landon Cassill traveling the country in the NASCAR Xfinity series while the other five compete weekly in the Legends division at Hawkeye Downs.

The 31 year-old Lehmkuhl not only grew up with the Olson family, who are local racing regulars, he was assigned a seat next to Cassill freshman year in science class at Jefferson. That developed into a friendship so tight that he had a bed at their house and a stocking at Christmas.

Not only has the friendship continued, Cassill was the best man at Lehmkuhl and his bride Jaime’s wedding last year while Roger Cassill was ordained just so he could officiate the service.

“I cannot say it enough,” Lehmkuhl said. “I could not do this without Roger and Cassill Motors. He’s like a second father to me and without him and Griffin, this wouldn’t be possible.”

Griffin McGrath also has a local family involved with cars and racing and houses the team’s cars each week, something that most racers have to worry about.

“We just set the expectations low,” Lehmkuhl joked of the “Tow Money” team name that references that amount collected for a last-place finish.

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“We’re just doing this for fun after work,” Lehmkuhl said. “It’s so much fun to be even remotely close to all these great drivers. It’s a dream come true.”

Historically a spotter for McGrath’s Late Model team, Lehmkuhl is enjoying owning his own car this season, which is a first for him.

“My car is the older style motor which has a 1250 Yamaha,” Lehmkuhl said. “It’s a late 1980s motor which is air cooled while the newer motors are water cooled and fuel-injected. That’s a pretty big deal, but really just means that my car is coldblooded in the morning.”

The team likes the Legends class because, “You can work on it in a normal garage,” according to Lehmkuhl who added, “You can work on a big car in a garage, but it’s a lot harder.”

The design of his car has always featured red, even when he raced for other teams, but his current paint job was designed by an iRacing friend.

“I sent the design to the sticker guy and he hit print,” Lehmkuhl said. “We just made it a real car.”

As for the No. 20, that was chosen by his wife and is inspired by their first date on Feb. 20, 2009 and their wedding date of April 20, 2019.

The young couple doesn’t have any kids, although Lehmkuhl calls himself a cat dad and admits neither a dog nor a baby would be the worst addition to the family.

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“My wife desperately wants a dog,” Lehmkuhl said. “I think we are (preparing for a future child), just don’t ask her about the dog because she wants one really bad right now.”

Who knows how long team Tow Money can keep competing at Hawkeye Downs, but it seems like it won’t be long before Lehmkuhl’s teammates become uncles or at least “dog uncles.”

“Both would be OK,” Lehmkuhl said.

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