IRA on Three-Night Iowa Swing

Friday, May 14, 2004

IRA On Three-Night Iowa Swing

When the Interstate Racing Association (IRA) made its first tow to Knoxville in 1999, not many Iowans could tell you who they were, where they came from, or why they were here.  A lot has changed in five years.  Under the direction of Steve Sinclair, the IRA has stormed onto the Midwest scene, racing at facilities across the upper Midwest and gaining credibility as it went along.  Though the club is in its 44th year, the last several have been the most fruitful.

Full Weekend

This weekend’s three-day swing begins Friday night at the rescheduled Spring Classic at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa.  The $3000 to win show is the IRA’s first at the track.  After competing on Saturday night at Knoxville, the club will race Sunday night on the high banks of the Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway, also for the first time.

That first show in 1999 at Knoxville started out well for the club when that season’s IRA champ, Donnie Goeden, registered second quick, with Kim Mock clocking the third fast time of the night over 43 cars.  Rain ended up the winner, washing out what promised to be a thriller.  Success has come hard on the big half-mile for the club.  When they returned in 2000, six drivers qualified for the night’s feature event with Scott Neitzel the highest finisher at ninth.  2001 saw a mere two IRA competitors make the A main, while four qualified in 2002 and 2003.  Last year’s event saw Travis Whitney grab seventh in the event after a fine charge through the field.  The club has also been a part of the 1200 pound nationals, turned Pella Corp. Classic, turned Summer Classic. 

The number of cars the IRA brings to a show is second to none.  No less than 20 cars have made the long tow, mostly from southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois to Knoxville.  Over the years, experience has been gained as well as the recognition that comes with racing in front of the crowds that places like Knoxville, Attica, OH, Superior, WI and Jackson, MN can provide.  As of press time, Knoxville was planning a “no time trials” show, due to the number of 410 racers anticipated.  Over the years, car counts for the April show have gone from 43 in 1999, to 50 in 2000, 58 in 2001, 66 in 2002, and 59 a year ago.

Keep an eye on:

After two events this year, Scotty Neitzel leads the IRA point standings.  He registered a win on his home track, the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam, WI on May 1.  Neitzel had a realistic chance of winning the 2001 1200 pound nationals before running out of fuel in his 2w.  Spinning the wrenches for Neitzel is former driver, Rick Lemanski, who knows his way around a racetrack.  Scotty will be one to watch this weekend.
Newlywed Travis Whitney will return to action as well.  Following motor woes in the opener, Travis should be back strong this weekend with a new powerplant.  Another familiar name to most Knoxville fans is that of former regular, Kim Mock.  Mock has recovered from his harrowing ride down the frontstretch last August, which may have cost him last year’s IRA championship.  Mock’s teammate is Mike Kertscher, last year’s rookie of the year for the club.  Kertscher received serious consideration for the national 410 rookie of the year last year, his first full season in a 410.  Both have had some success at Knoxville.

2002 champ John Haeni is another to keep an eye on.  John has qualified for three of the last four spring features at Knoxville in the 21J, and is hungry for more.  Todd Hepfner has also shown he can get his 28 car around Knoxville, as has Greenfield, WI’s Jason Johnson (not to be confused with the Cajun Sensation).  Joe Roe, the 2003 IRA champ, is running a limited schedule this year and reportedly will be in Dubuque.

Others to keep an eye on are 1999 IRA champ Donnie Goeden (who also will be at Dubuque only), who has returned to racing this year, Scott Uttech, Scott Biertzer, Wayne Modjeski, Mike Stefka, Billy Warren, Dave Enders, Brian Kristan, Ty Bartz, Ryan Irwin, Joe Symoens, Dave Uttech, and Steve Meyer.  Kurt Davis, who saw his ride replaced by Wayne Johnson, is sitting second in the points race.  Shane Dayney leads Brent Laursen, Rick Kelsey, Andy Hunt, Dan Owings and Rusty Egan in the rookie race.
Though the Knoxville race will not run the club’s regular format, both Osky and Dubuque will.  The unique format rewards heat race winners by including them in the feature inversion at the front of the field.  This makes for great racing and a variety of contenders.  Enjoy your weekend with the IRA!