Sports

Outlaw Street Drags find home at Hawkeye Downs

Joyce Konicek of Cedar Rapids works as the gatekeeper as cars enter Hawkeye Downs Speedway last night for the SPI Outlaw Street Drags. The event runs monthly from May through September and allows people to race their two, three or four wheel vehicles in a variety of brackets.
Joyce Konicek of Cedar Rapids works as the gatekeeper as cars enter Hawkeye Downs Speedway last night for the SPI Outlaw Street Drags. The event runs monthly from May through September and allows people to race their two, three or four wheel vehicles in a variety of brackets.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The recent release of Hobbs and Shaw earning $333 million dollars during its opening weekend, makes it easy to understand how the SPI Outlaw Street Drags, held for the fifth time this summer last night at Hawkeye Downs, have successfully built an audience from the same fan base.

In the most famous line of the Fast and the Furious franchise, Vin Diesel’s character Dominic Toretto explains that, “I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters.”

Luckily for the 100-plus participants who have brought their favorite vehicle to Hawkeye Downs during the first five events this summer, it only costs $10 to get in and $10 for each bracket you would like to enter.

“It gives [drivers] an opportunity to run their hot rod in a venue where you won’t get a ticket,” said race coordinator Keith Simmons. “It also teaches the younger kids about mechanics and how to make a car run faster. There are a lot of nice older cars out here, too.” he said as a ‘65 Chevelle rolled by. “There’s something for everybody; speed, looks, the whole deal.”

Simmons and his team have been happy with the first year of races at Hawkeye Downs, with the original outfit taking place at various tracks in Wisconsin starting three years ago.

“We’re right about where I thought we’d be in comparison to the other venues we’ve been at,” he said. “We were down a little bit [in July], but it was over 100 degrees and that always effects the turnout. Tonight, we’ve got beautiful weather and they have really responded.”

They being both the fans and the racers.

“We’ve been putting 500 on the grounds pretty regularly,” said Simmons, “but in June we had over 750 and we’re hoping for 1000 tonight.”

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Simmons and his group love the crowds, but the financial stability of the event depends on people putting their wheels on the track.

“It’s really about getting bracket entries,” said Simmons, “When you get 100 or better, it’ll work out. Under that and you’ll break even or lose. We had 119 in June and although July was down a bit because of the heat, we’ll easily be over 100 again tonight.”

The good news is that there is still one more night, September 19, of the six-night event that began in May and the group is expecting to return with a full schedule again for the summer of 2020.

“We’ll be back next year,” said Simmons. “We incurred a lot of expenses to get this off the ground and rolling and now that’s all behind us, so it’ll be easier for us next year. We have every intention of being back next year.”

To follow them online, find SPI Outlaw Street Drags on Facebook where they regularly update their calendar and their page with videos of races.

l Comments: justin.webster@thegazette.com

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