Auto Racing

Eastern Iowa's Eckrich family has been 'raised in racing'

Nate VanVoorst, son-in-law of driver Dave Eckrich, puts racing fuel in one of the team's cars between the heat race and
Nate VanVoorst, son-in-law of driver Dave Eckrich, puts racing fuel in one of the team’s cars between the heat race and the feature race Saturday night at West Liberty Raceway. (Justin Webster/The Gazette) 

WEST LIBERTY — If you blink, you might miss the seven roads that make up Cosgrove, Iowa.

You’d also miss a chance to run into one of the many members of the Eckrich family who have been living there and using the unincorporated community in southwest Johnson County as home-base for their auto racing teams over the last three-plus decades.

“We’ve just been raised in racing,” said 52-year-old Dave Eckrich, the eldest of the racing brothers. “We love it.”

During the day, Eckrich works as a fabricator for Precision Performance, which means he builds race cars for a living. On summer nights, he and his brother Denny, who is four years his junior, and his brother Andy, who is 14 years younger, race on tracks around Eastern Iowa and Illinois as part of the Super Late Model Series that visited West Liberty Raceway Saturday night.

Andy finished second in the feature.

Dave’s brother-in-law, Chris Simpson, also races and his brother, Doug, raced for a time, but now primarily helps the family of drivers.

“We’ve just always done it as a family,” Dave said. “My parents used to bring us everywhere racing and I’ve done the same thing with my kids.”

Dave started racing in his early 20s and his 22-year-old son Jared, who studies ag-science at Iowa State, is on his crew and may be the next Eckrich to drive for the team.

“I’m probably closer to my retirement,” Dave said. “I think it’s about time for me to step away and let someone else drive the car. It takes a lot of perseverance and you just can’t quit.”

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Dave also has a daughter who watches in the stands with his 4-year-old grandson, both of whom he’d like to spend time with.

“I might be better teaching a younger driver at this point,” Dave said.

“We’ve had a lot of great fans and met a lot of interesting people,” Dave said. “We love to have the fans come down and that is one nice thing about racing. We are available and we will take time to talk to people. I love having people come down and say, ‘Nice race,’ and introduce themselves. It’s always fun.”

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