Auto Racing

Decorah's Joshua Ludeking balancing racing, daughter

Fayette County Speedway a 'competitive two-lane track'

Joshua Ludeking of Decorah races in the Hobby Stock class at Fayette County Speedway in West Union. ((Zakary Kriener pho
Joshua Ludeking of Decorah races in the Hobby Stock class at Fayette County Speedway in West Union. ((Zakary Kriener photo)
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WEST UNION — If short-track dirt racing is your thing consider a trip to Fayette County Speedway.

“Normally it’s a very competitive two-lane track,” said Joshua Ludeking of Decorah. “It’s got good banking and it’s a fun racing track. It’s a nice medium between the bigger and smaller short-tracks.”

Ludeking should know. He’s been racing in West Union on-and-off for years and full-time in the Hobby Stock class for the last three seasons with his mid-1980s Cutlass that sits on a Smoke chassis with a 602 crate motor.

Ludeking got his start when he and two buddies created a three-man team that drove and worked on a two-man cruiser they raced at the now-defunct Echo Valley track in West Union.

“We showed up at the track the first time as 01,” Ludeking said of his number’s origin that started with the two-man cruiser. “There was another 01, so we just put a line through the zero to make it an eight and we became 81.”

The Decorah High School graduate then moved on to the Outlaw Hobby division until it was dissolved in the late-2000s. He then switched to his current Hobby Stock class.

Outside of racing, Ludeking is focused on raising his 5-year-old daughter Jemma.

“It changes the world when you have kids,” Ludeking said. “She goes to the track and watches and friends help watch her in the grandstands.”

As far as day-to-day life, Ludeking finds he and Jemma get along fine.

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“We get ready in the morning, OK,” Ludeking said. “It just takes a little bit longer than if I was on my own.”

Ludeking knows support is the key to both the race community and life as a single father.

“It’s a big network and it takes a lot of people and time on cars,” Ludeking said. “There are countless people I’d have to thank over the last 20 years, there are 100s.”

Even though all of those people are impossible to name and Ludeking hates to forget to mention others, he still enjoys making new friends in the pits each week.

“I’m willing to talk to anyone,” Ludeking said. “If you come to the pits, I’ll chitchat a bit. I understand that the fans get a show, us drivers are having a great time and it’s just a fun atmosphere.”

That understanding, paired with a 5-year-old who relies on him making it home, may influence his driving style.

“I don’t want to say I’m a cautious driver, I get right in there,” Ludeking said, ”But I’m not a real aggressive driver either. I just try to take advantage of situations when I can.”

Hot laps begin Fridays at Fayette County Speedway at 7 p.m. with weekly following through August 21 and a special showcase Sept. 6. Admission is $5 for anyone over six years of age and kids 5-and-under are free with a paid adult. Pit passes are $25.

Comments: justin.webster@thegazette.com

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