A bored 11-year-old boy listened to his dad announce stock car races at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Maquoketa.
Dad gave son a task to occupy the time — score the cars as they crossed the start/finish line.
The ploy worked more than four decades ago for Kevin Feller, who found his niche scoring stock cars at tracks across the country.
With Feller’s skills, race tracks demand his time. But starting now — or April 18 when the racing season starts in Maquoketa — Feller brings life back full circle, dedicating some of his time to packing the grandstands at Maquoketa Speedway.
Feller signed on as the new racetrack promoter and general manager at the speedway, taking over from DRT Trak Racing Inc. The Jackson County Fair Board will continue to operate finances, concessions, etc.
“I love racing,” Feller said. “This is the track where it all started when I was 11 years old. It’s kind of a storybook tale to be back here at the track.”
As the promoter, Feller will hire the crew to officiate and attract drivers and fans to the racetrack.
“I know I can make it better with some good, old-fashioned promotin’,” he said. He wants to involve the hometown crowd, get more Maquoketa and Jackson County residents in the stands, and entertain them.
“My real challenge will be how to get the 15- to 25-year-olds involved, get them down to the track, get them watching the action on the track, which is a lot more exciting that watching something on a little screen,” Feller explained. “I have some promotional ideas in mind.”
His reputation in the industry precedes him, and he plans to use that to get more people in the seats on race nights. While his day job is in sales for Super Wash car washes based in Morrison, Illinois, he’s been an official scorer at race tracks across the Midwest for about the last 45 years.
“Some tracks, they have two, maybe three people scoring. When I’m asked to score, it’s just me,” he said, humbly but confidently. He was the head scorer at a racetrack at age 15. “That’s unheard of.”
What is scoring, exactly?
Well, Feller sits at the start/finish line and writes the order in which the vehicles cross the finish line. The task sounds simple, but he doesn’t get a do-over. There is no instant replay. Never taking his eyes off the line, Feller scribbles down the number on the side of the vehicles as they speed past him.
He scores about 100 races per year from February to November.
Feller will promote the Maquoketa races starting with the first race April 18 straight on through Labor Day. After that, he’ll resume his scoring duties on the road.
Admission prices will decrease slightly when the 2020 season kicks off April 18, Feller added.
Maquoketa Speedway will again operate IMCA-sanctioned races, including modifieds, stock cars, northern sport mods, hobby stocks, and sport compacts (which will follow the rules but not be IMCA-sanctioned).
The speedway averages between 90 and 100 drivers per Saturday-night race, which Feller said was impressive for a town Maquoketa’s size.
Stay tuned for updates as a new Maquoketa Speedway Facebook page, and possibly a new website, develop.
And while Feller said he can’t wait to take over promotions at the track where his dad, Tom, got it all started for him, he sees a much larger picture.
“It ain’t about me,” Feller said. “It’s about getting more people there, making it better here, getting a younger crowd and getting them excited about racing, and to make where it all started for me even better.”