“We need some kind of racing publication that really tells the story of dirt track racing in Iowa. Not just the big-name guys, but the little guys who keep this sport alive. I think I’m the guy to do it – at least I want to try.”

I spoke those words, or at least words to that effect, to IMCA Media & Public Relations Director Bill Martin on the eve of Super Nationals XXI. Not even four years into my journalism career, I thought I had seen enough to know how to make something like that work.

Then, reality – followed shortly by life – set in. The logistics alone were more than one person could handle: contacting all the tracks at a time when barely half of them had email, much less social media, was going to be the biggest obstacle. Interviewing drivers all over the state was the other.

Paper costs skyrocketed due to the shortages of the early 2000s, and the idea of a printed publication went out the window. Although I was well-versed in HTML, building and maintaining a safe website was going to be beyond my abilities – and web hosting was going to be cost prohibitive.

And then, I met my wife. She, too, was a racing fan, and she came with me to Super Nationals XXII. We missed Super Nationals XXIII because we were starting our family. And, with that, the dream of Iowa Racing News went on the back burner – but I never allowed it to collect dust.

I just knew, deep down inside, this could be done once the technology was “there.”

So, let’s go back in time a little bit to answer the question at least some of you have right now: Why is this guy so passionate about Iowa dirt track racing? Well, it all started in 1980, when my step-uncle – a former racer – took 7-year-old me to my first racing show at Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City.

We were there to watch a mid-week special with some of the NASCAR Winston Cup guys racing. That was pretty fun, but afterward, something really special happened. “Sonny” took me into the pits, and I got to meet the drivers – face-to-face – and they actually took the time to say, “Hi,” to let me touch their cars, and to see how they worked.

I went home with a few new “favorites” – especially Bob Shryock in his orange #3 – and nearly $20 in soda cans I collected from under the stands. From then on, I was hooked. That year, for Christmas, I asked for and received an AFX slot racing track – which I promptly configured into an oval track so I could race like the guys in Webster City and my hometown track: Boone Speedway.

A few years later, when reading became my “thing,” I would snag Sonny’s copy of Hawkeye Racing News and read it front-to-back – sometimes twice – to learn how my favorite drivers were doing. Little did I know I would one day work with that publication’s editor, Bill Haglund. Many a day, walking down to Fuller’s in Adel, we would talk about dirt track racing.

If you haven’t heard some of Bill’s stories – and he has hundreds of them – you should grab his new book, “Two-Lane Roads and County Fairs.” He also wrote “Racing Through Time – A History of Automotive Racing in Iowa,” which is a must-read, too.

More than anything, those talks reminded me of something Bill would frequently say:

“Race people are some of the best people in the world. They’ve always got your back, and they’re always your friend.”

None of that has changed, nor has my love of racing faded. And, now that the technology is finally “there,” I have the means to cover Iowa dirt track racing the way it deserves to be covered. Consider this your 21st century version of the old racing newspapers.

Iowa Racing News’ objective is to advance dirt track racing in Iowa in all its forms. So, you’ll notice we have space for the figure-8 and go-kart racers, too. This isn’t just a “who won” website, either. In the coming days, you’re going to start seeing features about drivers and others who work behind the scenes to help advance the sport of dirt track racing in Iowa.

But, if you have a story idea or want to recommend a racer who doesn’t get a lot of attention for a feature article, let me know. As I said nearly 18 years ago, I want to help as many of the “little guys” who make up the bulk of the racing community as I can.

So, I set up our advertising rates to ensure there was something that can fit almost any budget – you can get your business’ name on our site for less than $20 a month. For the racers, I also set up a classified section that is open to anyone who wants to buy, sell, or trade their cars and equipment. Just send me the write-up and the photos and I’ll post it there – and keep it there until you tell me to take it down – at no cost. As in ABSOLUTELY FREE racing classifieds.

I’m not trying to replace anything anyone else is doing. Rather, I just want to help the racing community to the best of my ability. That also means helping the racetracks. So, for the promoters, I’m offering half-price advertising rates to those who plug our website during their weekly racing shows.

In the next few days, we’re going to begin rolling out our latest addition: our weekly newsletter. It will feature highlights from our website, delivered directly to your inbox at no cost to you. And, as the year progresses, there will be special features only available through the newsletter that you’re not going to want to miss.

There’s a lot more coming before the frost busters get here that are so amazing, I can’t even tell you about them yet. But in the meantime, I’m just asking that you all take a moment to check out the rest of our website and tell your friends, family, and fans about it.

I’ll have more to share in the weeks ahead, but for now, I just want to say thank you for doing what you do, which allows us to do what we do.

Photo by Hamilton County Speedway

Bob Eschliman is publisher-editor of Iowa Racing News. He’s an award-winning professional journalist with more than 20 years’ experience covering dirt track racing – and more than 40 years’ experience watching fast cars make slide jobs for the win. His email address is pitshack@iowaracingnews.com. For more news and information that “covers the Iowa dirt track scene,” visit www.iowaracingnews.com.

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