CEDAR RAPIDS — Bob Gase was initially not all that excited to race at Hawkeye Downs for the first time in 15 years.
All it took were a few practice laps to get him back into it.
“I didn’t expect this many cars,” Gase said before racing against his son, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase, in the “Be a Hero 30” SportMod feature race Friday night at Hawkeye Downs Speedway. “This is a whole new experience for me.”
The race was a promotion for organ donation, a cause the Gase family has been involved with for several years through organizations like the Iowa Donor Network. Eternal Fan — a sponsor of Joey Gase — awarded $1,000 to the winner, Tony Olson of Cedar Rapids. Joey Gase finished a close second, while Bob was just a few cars behind the leaders.
“That is what it is all about,” Joey Gase said. “It was a good race.”
Bob Gase, 56, raced late models and modifieds at Hawkeye Downs beginning in 1985 against Wall of Famers like Arlo Becker and Mike Schulte. Friday night was not only his first time racing a SportMod, it was his first race of any kind since 2004. He used the same car that won him a Modified Division points championship at Hawkeye Downs in 1993.
“Back in those days, it seemed like it was a lot more fun,” Bob Gase said. “You could be mad at somebody, get in a little argument with them and you could go have a beer. But nowadays, it is a whole different world. It is hard to change and adapt to it, that’s for sure.”
These days, Bob Gase drives the RV and works with sponsors for Joey, who will resume the Xfinity Series schedule at the Camping World 300 on June 29 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Bob Gase said. “It’s a lot of cutthroat work. It’s all about business. It’s a lot of fun, though. I get to travel with him every weekend.”
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The race was a bit of a new experience for Joey, as well. Until Friday night, he had only raced on the half-mile asphalt oval at Hawkeye Downs. His first time on the quarter-mile track brought back a flood of memories from his dad’s heyday.
“That is how I got into racing,” Joey Gase said. “Ever since I can remember, I grew up here watching my dad race. I was always super excited to come out here on Friday nights and watch my dad and during the winter, I couldn’t wait for the season to start.”
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