Auto Racing

It's time to go racing in Eastern Iowa

Independence Motor Speedway, Hawkeye Downs among area tracks open this weekend

Cars pass the grandstands during practice runs at the start of SPI Outlaw Street Drags at Hawkeye Downs Speedway on Thursday, May 2, 2019. There were around 30 entries in the first event, which will take place again on May 23 and then once a month throughout the summer. The drag strips is 300 feet long with brackets that accomodate any sort of car, truck or SUV, motorcycle and even ATVs and Side-by-Sides. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Cars pass the grandstands during practice runs at the start of SPI Outlaw Street Drags at Hawkeye Downs Speedway on Thursday, May 2, 2019. There were around 30 entries in the first event, which will take place again on May 23 and then once a month throughout the summer. The drag strips is 300 feet long with brackets that accomodate any sort of car, truck or SUV, motorcycle and even ATVs and Side-by-Sides. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

Will the third time be the charm for Independence Motor Speedway and the Althaus clan?

Julie Althaus sure hopes so.

“We’re pretty pumped up, but Mother Nature is throwing a curveball,” she said before last Saturday’s season-opener and IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series races were postponed.

That was the second opener called by weather.

“The track is beautiful, absolutely beautiful,” Althaus said.

IMS will try again Saturday, but this will be its weekly show at the Buchanan County Fairgrounds. The Deery Brothers race has been moved to June 19.

There will be six classes in action Saturday — IMCA late models, modifieds, stock cars, sportsmods and hobby stocks, as well as XCEL 600 modifieds. The grandstand opens at 4 p.m. with hot laps at 6.

Althaus runs the speedway with her husband, Albert, and daughters Abby and Carly. It’s a labor of love. The family spent a lot of time at IMS and they jumped at the chance to run the races.

“We really got involved because it brings back so many memories,” Julie said. “We’ve got it in our blood.”

The track was built as a horse racing track, but converted to an auto racing track in 1964, All four Althauses have jobs to do to keep the track running and “beautiful.”

“Then there’s less that I have to do,” Julie said with a laugh.

The family is able to keep their professional and personal lives separate, too.

“When we’re not around the track, we’re married,” Julie said of Albert. “When we’re at the track, it’s all business.”

Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids also is hoping Mother Nature is kind this weekend.

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The 94th season of racing at the paved oval begins Friday night on the half- and quarter-mile tracks. There will be racing in all six divisions — hornets, hobby stocks, legends, sportsman, late models and vintage. Griffin McGrath is the defending champion in the late model series, CJ Van Horn won the sportsman title last year and Nathan Ballard (hornets), Kurt Bohnsack (hobby stocks), Dave McCalla (legends) and Chris Rollinger (vintage) also won track championships.

Gates open at 6 p.m. with racing at 7:20. Admission is $10 for adults (18 and over) and $7 for seniors (55 plus).

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

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