INDEPENDENCE — Tom Schmitt and Hannah Chesmore are neighbors who live 5 miles apart, something fairly common in Iowa.
A neighborly favor led to the pair racing together as teammates at Independence Motor Speedway for the 2020 season, which ended Saturday night with the season championship.
“I was getting burned out doing all the stuff by myself,” Schmitt said. “I was a one-man show after all of my help got married or had kids.
“It just wasn’t as fun. You have to have people with you to enjoy the sport.”
Schmitt did enjoy the boosted setup the Chesmores’ Dominator chassis produced. He drove it all the way to a second-place finish in the points chase after tying Leah Wroten of Independence, but losing the tiebreaker.
“The power plan under the hood was better than anything I ever had, it was fun to drive,” Schmitt said. “Driving for somebody else, I just show up and lend a hand a little bit and then I jump in and drive once they’ve got it ready.”
His new teammate appreciated the additional knowledge and support from Schmitt after racing with her father, Stormin’ Norman Chesmore, since she first jumped into his car at the 2013 Yankee Classic at Farley.
“I had my own helmet but had to wear my dad’s suit,” said Chesmore of her first ever race. “They attached wooden pegs to my feet so I could reach the pedals.”
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The 2010 East Buchannan grad was just 21 at the time, shortly after getting out of the Marines. She served for 3.5 years as a motor team mechanic.
“It’s been a hard transfer back to being a civilian, to be honest with you,” Chesmore said. “I still want to go back, but I’ve had two hip surgeries and that is no longer optional for me.”
An option that is very much still viable is returning to Independence in 2021 with hopes of improving on her third-place finish in the Stock Car class.
“I’ll be back next season,” Chesmore said. “We’ll spend the offseason wrenching on the car, figuring out what we need to do.”
The good news is Stormin’ Norman, who retired from racing after back surgery, will be back to guide Lil’ Storm next season.
“My dad is pretty much my hero,” Chesmore said. “I look up to him big time and he’s taught me pretty much everything I know about cars.
“He is the reason I went to school for auto mechanics and then joined the Marines to wrench for them. Ever since I’ve been back, we’ve been closer than ever.”
Feature winners Saturday night at Independence included Phil Holtz of Manchester, Stock Cars; Troy Bauer of Monticello, Sportmods; Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, Modifieds; Marcus Wayne of Independence, Hobby Stocks; David Balik of Fort Atkinson, Compacts; Chad Dugan of Waukon, Micromods; Sean Johnson of Independence, Late Models.