ELDON — It’s not just the roar of engines that draw southeast Iowans to the tracks during the summer. They come for the chance to spend time with friends, family, and see who can come out on top when the laps are run.

Jaylene Doud and Lindsey Davis are no strangers to the scene.

Davis has been coming to Eldon’s race night for the past six years and looks forward to watching her boyfriend. Doud continues to be proud of her son. “My son has been racing 14 years,” Doud said. “His girlfriend (Davis) always comes to watch him. She likes racing, it’s in my blood and hers.”

Doud not only comes to support her son, she also comes because of the family aspect. “Racing is like a family community,” Doud said, “There’s a lot of people that you normally wouldn’t have met if it wasn’t for the racing community.”

While Davis and Doud enjoy watching their loved one participate in the race, both said watching the race is nerve wracking. “It’s different when you come and you don’t know anybody,” Doud said, “or just come once in a while. They’re here to see the wrecks — we’re not. It’s nerve-wracking, watching, waiting. None of us will eat anything until he’s done racing.”

Although Davis and Doud both get a rush of adrenaline and butterflies inside their stomach, both do encourage more people to come to race night.

“It’s cheap entertainment,” Davis said. “It’s $10 to get in. It starts at 7 [p.m.] and ends at 10. We enjoy it.”

Other attendees like Shauna Ellis have been coming to race night for years, supporting loved ones who race.

Ellis has been coming for a whole decade after hearing about race night on the radio. “I enjoy watching them race and the action,” Ellis said, “It’s always good to see what it’s like to be a driver in the driver’s seat.”

Like Davis and Doud, attendees Sara Williams, Stephanie and Robert Gridley have also been attending race night for years, coming to support family members.

Much like Doud and Davis, Williams gets nervous when her loved one races. “When the others are racing, there’s not much,” she said, “but once my husband’s out there the whole time I say ‘don’t hit him, don’t wreck.’

Stephanie Gridley continues to go to race night, not only because she gets to support a loved one, but also for another meaning. “I love race night, just because it’s also a family tradition,” she said.

“They all have a good time,” Robert Gridley said, “It’s a good place to be, what else would you want to do on a Saturday night? It’s a great way for these guys to spend their money and be competitive.”

Attendees are not the only ones who experience the thrill of a race, the racers themselves experience it. Many continue to pursue racing for years and for different reasons.

Racer Casey Lancaster has raced for a decade, something he can never get enough of. “I love the competition and the rush of driving,” he said. “I love making it go faster.”

Like Lancaster, Racer Matt Messamaker loves the competition. He has been racing for 15 years, taking consistent breaks. He continues to race, but just because it’s one of his main passions in life, but because he does it for his father.

“The racing guys are a family here,” Messamaker said, “I always think ‘God I don’t wanna screw up. What do I do? What should I have done? My dad’s been battling cancer, he always comes to a race but not this time. So this time, I do it for Dad.”

Although racers spend numerous hours practicing and volunteers also give many hours, volunteer Jerry Bott said it’s worth it.

“I enjoy the people,” he said. “Racing is an expensive sport, but many still do it because they’re passionate. The sport has been changing since the 90s, but it’s just a wonderful thing to watch. It’s a great event for everyone to come to.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.


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