A day in the life: a racecar driver

Grundy Register Regional News Editor Robert Maharry poses for a photo in his racing jacket after riding along with GASS driver Larry Olson on Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Kellie Collins)

It probably isn’t manly for me to admit this, but I’ve never really been much of a speed guy. Save for the time I maxed out my Ford Taurus on the blacktop between Alta and Storm Lake in high school and the ticket I got on 380 about an hour after accepting my job at The Record for going 11 over, I generally stick to the five over rule. But I experienced a whole new world on Sunday afternoon when I traveled down to the Iowa Speedway in Newton and got to do a ride-along with my girlfriend’s grandpa, Larry Olson.


Most people in the Conrad and Marshalltown areas are probably familiar with Larry either as a structural engineer or for all the work that he and his wife Nancy do to better the community, but he’s also loved racing since his teenage years—so much so that he’s travelled across the country to do it with the Great American Stockcar Series (GASS) for almost a decade now.


So on Sunday, Kellie, Wyllo and I drove down to meet Larry and Nancy, and I got the full ride-along experience before his race at 3:00. Other than tearing the leg in my racing suit and barely being able to get into the car (go ahead, make your fat jokes), I handled it like a champion. We didn’t see a big crowd like you might expect for a Metallica concert or a NASCAR race, but we got to watch six hardcore racing enthusiasts—some of whom race other types of vehicles professionally—duke it out for bragging rights and a trip to the Casey’s victory lane.


This is the part where I admit another non-manly thing I did: after maneuvering my body into the car (shocking fact, they don’t have doors like a sedan or a pickup truck), I clutched onto the side of the vehicle for dear life for about the first lap and a half. With my helmet strapped into the neck brace apparatus and all of the seatbelts, it’s more or less impossible to move the torso, but once I got comfortable I finally let my extremities relax. 


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