Richard, Harris chase racing championship
Mt. Pleasant's Lynn Richard teamed up with Davenport's Brian Harris, and the pair is racing to win it all.
Richard, a car owner, and Harris, a driver — along with their devoted team — are more than halfway through the 18-race Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA late models, and currently hold a 29-point lead over the nearest competition.
In 13 races so far, Harris has won five — and never finished outside the top four.
Most recently, Harris took fourth in Monday’s race at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines.
He got his fifth win of the season in the race before that, at Dubuque Speedway on July 14. His first win came in May at the Farley Speedway, and he won three straight races in June, at Hamilton County Speedway, Cedar County Speedway and West Liberty Raceway, respectively.
The series started in April at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, and the last race will be September 21 in Davenport.
The car owner and driver met about 14 years ago, Richard recalls, when Harris raced against Richard's son, Chris.
"We became friends, and I'd heard that he might be interested in driving for us someday," Richard said. "We're happy and proud to have him driving."
Harris was ready to team up with Richard for last season, but the timing didn’t work out.
“Last year I was without a ride, and I tried getting in the door (with Richard) last year, but they already had a driver for the 2012 season,” Harris said. “But toward the end of the year, we raced a couple events together — their driver had plans for those nights — and we did good. We got third, and then, in the last race, we won. That got us excited for 2013. We decided to hook up and tackle the Deery Brothers Series.”
Harris is not the first to drive Richard's car, but he has been the most successful.
"I've probably had 10 drivers; I've raced for 30 years," Richard said. "I drove and Chris drove, and we're still enjoying the sport. We've had several other drivers, but never as much success (as this year). Our goal is to maintain (our) lead and be the champion.”
Harris started racing when he was 10 years old, beginning with go-karts and then trying a few different types of cars.
“Now I’ve ended up here, with late models,” Harris said. “I’ve done it for that last 13 or 14 years, and its probably where I’ll stay.”
Richard has his share of experience as well.
"I started racing go-karts in the '70s," Richard said. "(Mt. Pleasant's) Wesley Barton encouraged me and bought me my first stock car. There are still a lot of local businesses involved in sponsoring race cars."
Richard notes that a number of local businesses sponsor his car — including Floyd’s Waste Disposal, Great River Spine Clinic, IITI (Davenport), Ideal Ready Mix, KILJ, Roehlk Construction, Steffes, Shottenkirk and Trump Trucks.
“The most interesting one is Hills Community College,” Richard said. "They've talked about taking a class over.”
Along with businesses, Richard and Harris get a lot of support from family and friends.
"The most important thing to me is that my wife, Karen, goes with us every time we race, and Chris (Richard) helps us in maintaining the car — it's a family operation," Richard said.
The family also gets help from Willie Guengerich, a friend of Richard's who works on the car, and from Scott Ward, Harris' buddy in Davenport.
"We all work well together," Harris said. "We have the complete package."
And none of them are bothered by the fact that Richard lives in Mt. Pleasant and Harris in Davenport.
"I actually think that being in two different places is part of the success," Harris said. "We're not around each other every day, so we don't get frustrated with each other. I think of that as a benefit. We do everything over the phone, and I get down (to Mt. Pleasant) once or twice a month. For the most part, Lynn (Richard) and Willie (Guengerich) take care of everything, with all the hours they put in at the shop."
Richard doesn’t mind the distance, either.
"We make a lot of phone calls, discuss how the car worked the week before and the changes (Harris) would like to see us make," Richard said.
The system seems to be working out for the team, as they maintain their point advantage with just a few events left to go.
The pair will travel to Boone Speedway for the next race in the series, which will be Sept. 2.