Auto Racing

Delhi driver Mark Schulte ready to get back on track

If weather cooperates, he'll be at Independence Motor Speedway on Saturday

Delhi driver Mark Schulte, leading into Turn 2 during the IMCA Modified main event for the Rumble on the River at Dubuqu
Delhi driver Mark Schulte, leading into Turn 2 during the IMCA Modified main event for the Rumble on the River at Dubuque Speedway in 2017, is ready to get back on the track. (The Gazette)

Like many drivers, Mark Schulte’s race team is made up of familiar faces.

His father, Bob, is a former driver himself and joins Mark in the pits and on repairs. Mark’s mother, Colleen, is the team videographer and his wife, Laura, wrangles son Jeep and daughter Lucy while at the track.

Mark’s buddy, Willie Gibson, also helps work on the 2018 Harris chassis that was built in Boone and sits on a 1968-72 Chevelle frame with a small-block Chevy motor.

“We just experiment with the car where we can,” Schulte said. “It’s just trial and error.”

Schulte, of Delhi, is anxious to get everybody back together at the racetrack.

“We’ll race at Indee for sure and right now we’re up in the air between Vinton or Dubuque,” Schulte said.

Dirt track racing returns to Independence Motor Speedway on Saturday, assuming Mother Nature doesn’t intervene.

“If we get an inch of rain, we won’t be able to go,” said race announcer Jerry Mackey. “If we get a half-inch and it stops by noon, we have a chance.

“If plan A doesn’t work out, we’ll figure out a plan B.”

Many of Schulte’s experiments have worked over the years. He won the 2019 modified championship at Independence, notching his 16th career driving title since beginning with karts in 1993 and cars in 2000.

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Schulte knows nothing comes easy in the race world and attributes his success to multiple sources.

“A lot of things ... including luck,” Schulte said. “The guy I beat last season had a bad night with just a few weeks to go. We were able to race each week, plugging away at it, and consistently finished in the top five.”

While fans won’t yet be back at the track, they will be able to watch all of the action online at either IMCA.tv or DoneRight.tv. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with racing to follow.

The races will feature IMCA late models, modifieds, stock cars, hobby stocks and sportmods with micro mods and compacts also racing.

The track itself is ready and the environment always is driver-friendly, according to Schulte.

“Everything is run very well with a professional setting that is family friendly,” he said.

Schulte salutes the efforts at IMS that give his wife things to do with Jeep and Lucy at the track besides trying to force them to sit still for hours on end.

“You have to have the kids involved,” Schulte said. “Otherwise, if the kid isn’t interested they will throw a fit and the parents won’t be going.”

Schulte considers himself lucky to have his entire family at the races, especially Laura.

“She keeps pushing me to do as much as I do,” Schulte said. “She probably wants to be at the track more than I would anymore.

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“Having them around makes it more laid back. It’s more enjoyable and takes the pressure off, which is good.”

He also appreciates the work his wife puts in at the track.

“I feel lucky in that way,” he said. “She loves to take the kids and has more work keeping track of the them than I do racing.”

Inside his dirt car Schulte, is focused during green-flag laps, but finds himself trying to relax mentally when the yellow caution flag comes out.

“I mainly sing ’90s country songs,” Schulte said. “Joe Diffie is my guy.”

Schulte is ready to go.

“I think there will be a tendency to see cars wrecking more because we haven’t been racing,” he said. “People can get a little overzealous, but hopefully we can kick off the season with the same speed we ended last year with and get back around the people we miss and get back to the life we’re used to.”

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