“It’s all About the Kids,”

By Bret Sievertsen for

 "Its All About the kids." says Mitch Swinton as he dumps one of many buckets of candy onto the front stretch of the West Liberty Raceway. Tonight’s event: The Candy Dash.

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(Mitch Swinton patiently awaits the arrival of the kids to the booth. (photo courtesy of Mitch Swinton)

In the winter of 2005, Mitch Swinton of Lone Tree, Iowa came up with an idea to start a club to get more kids involved with weekly racing. “Our goal was to get the younger fans excited about the racing and entertainment at the track, that they would beg mom and dad to bring them back.”  In April 2006 at the West Liberty Raceway, Mitch made his idea a reality. For the first time the “Lil Racer Car Club” was open. “We signed up five members that night,” says Swinton. Today the club has more than 15 volunteers operating at six different tracks in Eastern Iowa, with more than 1100 members. Mitch says that most of the clubs members are from the Midwest; however, they do have members from Texas, California, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. “We even have a member from Germany,” said Mitch.

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(Mitch signs up a new member at an event. (photo courtesy of Mitch Swinton)

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(And their off Kids race to grab as much candy as they can while at the Hawkeye Downs Speedway.  (photo courtesy of Mitch Swinton)

The Lil Racer Car Club is open to children under the age of 14 and is entirely free to its members. “It’s our philosophy that kids should not have to pay to have fun,” says Mitch. When a child shows up at the track their parent must fill out a short registration form, your child is then issued their V.I.P. badge which is theirs to keep and bring back to the track with them. Each week the children are entered into a drawing for prizes. There is also what’s known as the “Free Table” which has a variety of items such as pens, pencils, coloring books, crayons, plastic racing flags, and much more. Also available to them is a candy bowl, snacks, and cold drinks at no cost to the kids or their family. Mitch has also made pamphlets about problems that children deal with available for parents at the table. Club members can also participate in any on track activity, such as candy dashes, nickel dashes, boxcar races, gunnysack races, bike races, ride alongs, and other events.

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(Completed boxcar ready to race. (photo courtesy of Mitch Swinton)

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(Ride along with David Brandies at the West Liberty Raceway (photo courtesy of Bret Sievertsen)

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(One lucky Club member got to drop the green flag with Doug Haack. (photo courtesy of Mitch Swinton)

As of 2011, the Lil Racer Car Club can be found at The Cedar County Raceway in Tipton, Iowa; The CJ Speedway in Columbus Junction, Iowa; West Liberty Raceway in West Liberty, Iowa; Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 34 Raceway in Burlington, Iowa; and the Farley Speedway in Farley, Iowa. Mitch is always looking to expand the club but with more tracks there is a need for more volunteers. The Lil Racer Car Club is a 501©3 nonprofit charity, which relies solely on sponsorship’s, donations, and gifts to operate. “We exist because of people that support racing as well as kids, who will sponsor the club or provide donations of items to use,” says Swinton. “We are always looking for people to help.”

The Club also sponsors it annual “It’s All About the Kids” bowling tournament, held each February in Muscatine and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This event is for kids and their family to get out and bowl a couple games, enjoy pizza and pop. For participating, the children receive an actual racing trophy.  In May, the club offers “Flowers for Mom” on Mother’s Day weekend. All mothers in attendance receive a free carnation. “Kids Helping Hungry Kids” allow kids to bring canned items to the track with them. In return they receive a chance in a drawing for tickets to one of Iowa’s waterparks. Mitch says that all food collected is turned in at the food pantry for the town that it was collected in.

Mitch says, “Although I started this club, I could not have done it without all the help from the volunteers, and without the understanding of my family, who let me go away each weekend and enjoy the things I like to do for these kids.” Help, sponsorships, and donations are always welcome, since they are a nonprofit charity, any donation is tax deductible. Items needed are new toys, games, movies and like items for weekly give prizes. Candy, snacks, and beverages are always in demand as well.  “Anything and Everything helps” said Mitch. As a prize for these kids entering the events Mitch likes to award them a real racing trophy donated by a real racer. They are always looking for people to donate unwanted trophies. Mitch would like to thank people like Ron Barker and Dan Chapman for donating many trophies to the club. This year the club got an extra special gift, Dee Weedon, wife of the Late Ronnie Weedon donated many trophies to the club. Ronnie Weedon was a local legend that won over 500 feature wins in a career that spanned more than 50 years. 

If you would like to donate items, Mitch can be found at the Hawkeye Downs Raceway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa every Friday as well as the West Liberty Raceway in West Liberty, Iowa on Saturday nights. The club has added a website and can also be found on Facebook, or contacted at Lil Racer Car Club, P.O. Box 311, Lone Tree, Iowa 52755

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(Participants in the “It’s all about the Kids” bowling tournament, proudly display their trophies. (Photo courtesy of Mitch Swinton)

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(Proof that you’re never too old to “Clown Around” (photo courtesy of Mitch Swinton)

I would like to take this moment to thank Mitch as well as the many volunteers that make up this club. As a father myself, they have touched the lives of my children, and have gotten them more excited to go to the races. They have certainly made it easier for me to attend the races when I want to go.













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Revised: February 23, 2013