WEST LIBERTY — Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
More than 30 years ago, Kurt Zimmerman walked away from racing at West Liberty to raise a family, but Saturday night he was repaid for his diligence with his first trip to Victory Lane in the traveling Nostalgia Stock Car Racing Club class.
“This was my home track for five years in the late 1980s,” Zimmerman said. “Now that I’m older and have a couple of businesses, I have a little disposable income and I can go have some fun.”
Zimmerman grew up going to West Liberty Raceway with his grandfather and loved racing there, which is why he begged the other members of the car club that consists of vintage Late Models to consider visiting his favorite oval.
“It’s just a big, fast track and it’s fun,” Zimmerman said.
While Zimmerman has spent his whole life in Muscatine, the car he drove to first place Saturday night in the feature has a connection to Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hawkeye Downs.
“I ran into some racing guys in Cedar Rapids that build tribute cars,” Zimmerman said. “I bought this car from them as they were thinning out their stable.”
The “car guys” he ran into were John Huff and family. Zimmerman bought their Fred Horn tribute car.
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Horn was from Marion and raced at Hawkeye Downs sporadically from 1968 to 1980 before being honored on the track’s Wall of Fame in 2004.
“I bought the car as a roller, with no motor or transmission, just the way it is,” Zimmerman said. “I put it together and here we are having some fun.”
Zimmerman also thinks the traveling group has more fun than weekly racers because they rarely trade paint.
“We don’t tear our cars up,” Zimmerman said. “We run good, clean races because nobody wants to fix them. We run once a month and we just have a blast.”
The group will travel to Columbus Junction this Saturday for a vintage themed night at the track with all old cars and free admission. The group mainly races around Eastern Iowa at tracks like Maquoketa, Dubuque and, of course, West Liberty thanks to Zimmerman’s input.
“I damn near broke down crying up there waiting to get out of the car,” Zimmerman said of his first race at the track since the 1980s. “I’ve been wanting to get back here for so many years and my first time in 30, I knock it out of the park.”