Racing has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.
In fact, the earliest memory I can recall is the 1993 Daytona 500. I was watching with my dad and uncle in my grandparents’ living room as Dale Jarrett beat our favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, to the checkered flag in the first so-called “Dale and Dale show.” I remember crying – hey, I was four, gimme a break – because I wanted Earnhardt to win.
Over the next 20 years of my life, I’ve lived and breathed racing on every level. I’ve been a participant, an attendee, a fan, a viewer, a listener and a member of the media. I’m still all those things to a certain extent, but moving forward I’ll have one role above all others in racing – the final item on that list.
That brings me to why we’re here. Welcome to The Inside Track by Jeremiah Davis.
This blog page on thegazette.com will hopefully serve as a hub for auto racing of all types in Eastern Iowa. The passion I have for racing is, if you spend any amount of time with me, evident quickly, and it’s equal among all types of motorsports.
There are 24 tracks east of Interstate-35 that operate on a regular or semi-regular basis in Iowa, the majority dirt ovals, but including asphalt ovals – Hawkeye Downs here in Cedar Rapids, and Iowa Speedway – and drag strips. That number represents 24 locations where race fans gather to watch men and women compete in a sport that requires a level of money and dedication unparalleled in the sports world. They’re 24 chances to smell burning rubber and race fuel. Twenty-four ways to enjoy a summer night with friends and family.
My hope is to be your conduit to the drivers, teams and race tracks. I want to tell stories of the racers and their families. Stories of the track workers and their dedication. Stories of old races gone by, and a fan who was there to see it. Stories you can identify with.
To do that requires some help. I’m one (very fortunate) person, who can only be so many places in a given summer. As our community sports editor J.R. Ogden wrote a few weeks ago, we at the Gazette want to hear your stories. We want to know what racing means to you, and would love to either tell your story or give you a chance to tell it yourself through our Your Page, which runs every Sunday when football isn’t in season.
There will be a few fun features to The Inside Track that will be maintained on a regular basis. Weekly Power Rankings will be published, with the top 10 NASCAR drivers and top 10 local drivers (across all classes and divisions) ranked by yours truly. Power rankings are a very subjective thing, and feedback from you is more than welcomed. If there’s a modified driver who’s been winning, but I haven’t had a chance to see him or her, let me know, and maybe they’ll make the list.
This page won’t just be dirt racing or Hawkeye Downs, and it won’t just be NASCAR. It’s a page that belongs to the motorsports world, and one in which I hope I can share with you the sport I’ve loved my whole life.
So welcome, and I hope you stay a while. Time to go racin’.