Spotlight On: Eric Bridger

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Eric Bridger at Knoxville (Chuck Stowe Image)Eric Bridger at Knoxville (Chuck Stowe Image) by Jenna Prather

Eric Bridger is a 21-year-old, who originated in Winterset, Iowa and now lives in Waukee. During the day he works at People’s Trust and Savings Bank in Clive and is a graduate of Upper Iowa University in Des Moines in financial management. He likes to spend spare time working on his sprint car and doing some outdoor activities.

As for his racing career, Eric started out driving go-karts up in Jamaica, Iowa in 2006 for a year on asphalt, and later a mix of asphalt and dirt. In 2011 Eric bumped himself up to a micro sprint and drove with the Iowa Micro Sprint Series for five years. In that time he won the championship in 2013, 14, 15, and is currently the only driver to win three consecutive championships back-to-back. In 2016 he raced a Sprint Car at the Iowa State Fair Grounds and started his first year with Knoxville Raceway last year.

Starting out, Eric didn’t really know what a sprint car was nor had he ever been to Knoxville up until he started racing a micro sprint. When he first came to Knoxville he didn’t know any driver, except maybe Danny Lasoski or Steve Kinser.

Before coming to Knoxville, Eric thought that maybe he wanted to move into NASCAR, but after experiencing sprint car racing for himself he knew it was where he wanted to be.
Speaking of NASCAR, the story of Eric’s car number comes into play.

Growing up he was a pretty big fan of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and one year Dale ran what used to be the Busch Series car which was an 8, but when he started racing Eric figured there would already be a bunch of cars with the number 8 on there so he picked 81 and added an ‘E’ for Eric and it’s stuck with him throughout his years.

With help from his family and his neighbor, Gary Williams, and his wonderful sponsors (Bails Transmission and Auto and GW’s Gutter Services in Winterset, and SVS Shocks) Eric accomplished more than he thought possible.

“Starting out, I never would’ve thought I’d get this far,” Eric said when asked if he’d ever thought he’d be both Rookie of the Year and Points Champion (in 2017). “At the beginning of the season we started shooting for the Rookie of Year, that was something we thought we could accomplish. It would be tough, but we thought we could do it.

After the first race, pulling out of the gate, I thought ‘this might be a possibility’ and as it got closer and closer, with a little bit of good luck and some other drivers having a little bit of bad luck, it started to become a little bit more of a reality.”

From here, Eric’s goal is to, hopefully, move up to the 360 class in 2 years so they can save some money and buy a decent car and just move on up from there.

“Maybe a 410, we’ll see, but that’s gonna be a big step up and we’re definitely gonna need some good sponsorship and, of course, saving up some cash too.”

The World of Outlaws is a bit far out there yet for Eric, but he thinks that it would be pretty cool for that to happen, but he knows how difficult it is to get a ride for it and especially build up your team enough for your own spot in there.

“But, I say if I can make a living racing that’d be a pretty awesome dream come true. Whether it’s Outlaws, ASCS 360 sprint cars, or anything like that.”

Eric is the first since Carson McCarl (2011) to win both Rookie of the Year and a track championship in the same year in the 305's.

So if you get the chance, head out to Knoxville for the 2018 season and watch Eric yet again compete for the 305 Track Championship.  He's already picked up his first win!