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Zumbach Ready to Renew Past Success’ with Mid-American

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Ross Zumbach

Zumbach Ready to Renew Past Success’ with Mid-American

Matt Panure
Mid American Stock Car Series
March 2009

By the time the morning rains cleared on August 23, the stage was set for another sunny late summer shootout at the Milwaukee Mile. Thirty-three Mid-American Stock Car Series competitors were prepared to qualify and give their all for 40 laps.

All of the usual suspects were prepared…James Swan, Bill Prietzel, Lyle Nowak, and Bobby Gutknecht. While those drivers may have been the names on the “Drivers to Watch” pamphlet handed out by the Mile, a name would emerge out of seemingly nowhere to turn Mid-American on its ear.

It is hard to blame anyone for discounting the 2008 Governor’s Cup Winner on that Saturday afternoon. Only one year earlier he was involved in an incredible multi-car pileup which brought an end to the 2007 Governor’s Cup. He had not even picked up a top five in his MASCS career.

However, streaks and slumps are made to be broken, learning curves pass and a driver with incredible talent like second-year MASCS driver Ross Zumbach will shine through adversity.

Zumbach, who calls Racine, MN home, and his team were fully prepared to put on a show at Milwaukee thanks in large part to the preparation they had put into Governor’s Cup Weekend. They took their Chevy Monte Carlo to their home track, Hawkeye Downs Speedway, and worked with it until they felt prepared for the event. “I think that was the first time we ever unloaded the car and only needed to make minor adjustments and not wholesale changes,” said Zumbach.

Prior to that time, each MASCS was an adventure for Zumbach. “The first year was tough because we basically had to learn about the car all over again because we were going to new tracks that we had never seen before and were making adjustments to the car that we had never made before,” Zumbach said of his first year with Mid-American.

The challenges of traveling with Mid-American were far from par for the course with Zumbach. They can easily be seen as the exception, rather than the rule.

It was a career that began with a bang for Zumbach, who is now 19 and a marketing student at Winona State. At age five he followed in his sister KayLea’s footsteps and began racing go-karts. From age five to age eleven, Zumbach won over 100 features and scored several top fives in national events competing against the likes of now NASCAR Nationwide racer Landon Cassil.

From the go-karts, Zumbach took his turn in legend cars where he became the youngest legend car winner in Hawkeye Downs Speedway history at age 13. He was also named Iowa Legends Rookie of the Year in 2002.

The progression from the legend cars put Zumbach in a Mid-American sportsman at age 16. His success, while not surprising, was incredible. Zumbach could only think of three words to describe the experience.

“Overwhelming, exciting, unexpected,” he said. “We were just hoping for seat time and got fifth our first race.”

After winning handily in only his second race, Zumbach went on to win three of the first five races that season. He found himself leading points.

Unfortunately, after that incredible start, Zumbach was involved in a nasty wreck. The car was not the same through the rest of the season. Zumbach was able to muster one more win toward the end of the season and finished fourth in points on his way to being named Rookie of the Year.

The recipe for success was easy for Zumbach. He attended the Finish Line Racing School in Florida and used what he had learned from his young career in go-karts and legends. “Once you learn the basics in one you learn how to carry it over to the next. It was a weird feeling because it was comfortable right away when I got into the Mid-Am car.”

Although Zumbach has yet to taste the amount of success he had at Hawkeye in Mid-American action, he is happy to be a part of the series. “Mid-Am is an extremely tough series because there is so much competition from the top to the bottom,” he claimed.

However, 2009 may bring something Zumbach also has yet to taste in Mid-American action, a home track advantage. Mid-American is slated to make a return to Cedar Rapids on Saturday, April 25. “I love that place. I love all the fans. Hopefully they remember me,” he claimed.

If not, surely a win would jog their memory.

Zumbach’s crew consists of his dad Brad, Nate Nelson, Trevor Wiles, and Larry Felt. Zumbach is sponsored by Gene Peterson Racing, SATA Spray Equip., Cost Cutters Family Hair Care, House Chevrolet, Magnum Graphix, and Margaret Nelson-State Farm Insurance.

The Mid-American Stock Car Series’ 17th season begins on Sunday, April 19 as part of the 32nd Annual Spring Classic at Rockford Speedway in Love’s Park, IL. Stay tuned to www.midamericanracing.com for more announcements and news regarding Mid-American’s 2009 season

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