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From The Dirt Tracks of the Midwest to the Asphalt of the South:

 By Bret Sievertsen for LuvRacin.com

In January, 2006 with the encouragement of his grandfather, Iowa native Mitch Way made the decision to give up his driving career and move to North Carolina, “To see where it would go!” Mitch said “I left Iowa with $900.00 and 100 resumes, I figured I would come home when I ran out of money or resumes.” His desire, and hard work ethic paid off. Mitch now holds a position as Truck Chief and front tire carrier for the Kyle Busch Motorsports # 18 Camping World Truck Series Toyota.

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(Mitch Way Working with the #18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota (Photo Courtesy of  Mitch Way)

                Mitch, a fourth generation driver, was born in Iowa City and raised in Bettendorf, Iowa. His great grandfather, Tom Peppers, ran Pep’s Auto Service in Davenport. Peps was a place for local racers to have motors built. According to Mitch, at one time there were 21 motors built buy Pep’s, racing at the Davenport Speedway. Mitch’s grandfather, Bob Peppers, along with the help of his brothers, got involved in drag racing. Mitch says, “I’ve been told that grandpa was actually the first person to hit the 200 mph speed record.” Unfortunately this was not a NHRA sanctioned event so not to many people know it. Bob Peppers step brother, Ronnie Weedon is a local legend, winning over 500 races in a career that spanned 56 years. Weedon you may remember was killed when the car he was working on fell off the jack stands in his shop. Ronnie Weedon was inducted in the Quad City Hall of Fame in 2006. Both Mitch’s uncles, Randy and Terry Peppers, raced Go-Karts winning many races and a few championships along the way.

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(Way Prepares for an event in the 01m Modified. One of three classes he competed in (photo courtesy of Arthur Carle)

                “Growing up I was always very Competitive,” says Way, “It didn't matter if it was on foot, my tricycle, or my bicycle, I wanted to win.”  In 1999 Mitch was convinced to get into his first race car, a dwarf car owned by his grandfather Bob. In his first race, at the Davenport Speedway he was told to try to get to second place, follow the leader and just try to finish. Towards the end of the race Mitch was confident with the car as well as his ability, he caught the leader, passed him and went on to win the first race he ever entered. The following year Mitch won the Track Championship at The Hawkeye Raceway in Blue Grass, Iowa.

 

Mitch raced Dwarf cars in 1999 and 2000. From 2001-2004 he raced a modified, in 2004 Mitch was given the opportunity to run a partial schedule racing a Late Model owned by Darrell Dorscher. In 2005 Mitch’s family bought and raced their own Late Model. From 1999-2005 Mitch racked up approximately 200 wins, 1 Dwarf Car Track Championship, qualified 2nd for the 2000 Dwarf Car Nationals, won the Gary Reinhardt Memorial race in 2002, and won back to back West Liberty spring championship races in 02 and 03. As a driver Mitch always wanted be one of the elite Late Model drivers competing in the World of Outlaw Late Model Series.

 

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(Mitch Way (in the 01m) ready for the start at the Davenport Speedway in Davenport, Iowa (photo courtesy of Arthur Carle)

 

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(Mitch Hard at work on the #18 Toyota (photo courtesy of Carollee Hilton)

 

All this changed in 2006. The road to North Carolina was not an easy one. “With little money, I had to budget wisely,” Mitch said.  He slept in a camper that he borrowed from his uncle Joe, he carefully laid out maps of race shop so that he could utilize his gas as much as possible. Many of his meals were prepared on a hot plate right in the camper. “It was cold,” said Way, “I didn't want to waste gas running the camper so I bundled up the best I could.”  This all paid off when he was finally offered a job with a Hooters Pro Cup race team. Though it only lasted a few short months, due to the team folding up. Mitch had his start. Soon after he was able to land a job as a fabricator / mechanic at P.P.I. working on their Furniture Row and Tide, Cup Cars. After this he was hired to be a fabricator / mechanic for Dave Fuge’s Xpress Motorsports #16 Truck team driven by Mike Bliss. While at Xpress Motorsports Mitch was also the Gas Man on the over the wall team. This lead to his current position at Kyle Busch Motorsports. Mitch Hopes to learn from the talented people that surround him and use these opportunities to propel himself into a crew chief position someday.

 

            As a fan of dirt track racing for over 20 years. I have had the pleasure to watch Mitch race, even had the opportunity to race with him and against him a time or two. He has defiantly lived up to the nickname “Mr. Excitement” given to him by Hall of Fame driver Shane Davis.  I asked Mitch what kind of advice he could offer someone that has thought about doing the same thing he did.  He said “Follow your dreams and never give up. No job is to small whether it be sweeping the floors or taking out the trash, you have to start somewhere.” He added “Do what is asked of you with dedication and conviction.” “Be humble, listen more than you talk. In closing Mitch told me his favorite saying around the shop is “Pay attention, it’s free.”

           

I would like to thank Mitch Way for taking the time to talk with me and learn more about him. I would also like to wish him all the luck in the future. I am sure we will hear his name again.

 

 

 

 

       

 

       

 

       

 

       
 

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