TIPTON — You can’t blame Joel Rust for smiling all the time.
For the most part, things are going his way.
The 2012 Grundy Center graduate spent two years at Hawkeye Community College, earning his business administration degree while securing a job at Performance Bodies in Cedar Falls as a purchasing agent.
That means from April to October, racing goes hand-in-hand with his work.
“It’s weird that the year is over already,” Rust said. “Normally we get 60-70 nights in and this year we barely got 30.”
Rust had plenty to fill his extra nights with in 2020 after proposing to his girlfriend of five years in 2019 with the help of his two labradors and the couples’ favorite lake as the backdrop.
With COVID-19 postponing many get-togethers, Rust and his bride-to-be, Jennifer Dunn, were lucky enough to find a window in mid-July to get married in front of a few hundred of their friends and family members.
“I’ve always cared about her and put her first, but when it’s your wife,” Rust said, “it’s a little bit different and you find yourself thinking about her during all of your decisions.”
Rust said Jennifer supports him 100 percent, even if she didn’t fully understand what she was getting into.
“She had no idea what racing was when she came into this,” Rust said. “Her mom said, ‘Oh, you better be ready.’”
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The ups and downs of racing tested the young couple for the first time last weekend during the Fall Bash at Cedar County Raceway. Rust followed a feature victory in the Modified class on Thursday with an accident on the final turn of the Stock Car feature Friday. He got punted from the track and rolled six times before landing on his wheels.
“At first your arms are kind of flailing and it’s a bad deal,” Rust said, while still smiling. “The Harris Terminator held up though and we’re still here talking.”
Although Rust climbed out of the car under his own power, he didn’t waste an opportunity to try to get some extra care from Jennifer, who works as a physical therapy assistant in Waterloo.
“I told her I needed treatment and she rolled her eyes like normal,” Rust said. “She works her butt off everyday and I always want the treatment. I had to work for it, but I got about five minutes.”
Compromises like that are what have Rust excited for the couples’ future.
“We’ve discussed kids but before we are ready for them I think moms, dads and grandparents will be pressuring us,” Rust said. “We want to do some work on our acreage, we have a farm house that needs fixing up and maybe we’ll put a shop out there.”
Two dogs, a supportive spouse, a farmhouse and a race shop all on his own acreage?
No wonder Rust won’t stop smiling.