Rookie IMCA sport compact driver Jake Paysen won his first feature. It came during the Midwest Madness Tour’s Monday stop at Clay County Fair Speedway in Spencer, Iowa. A month earlier, Paysen lost his first car in a series of rollovers at Crawford County Speedway in Denison, Iowa.
“I had bought a race-ready Chevy Cavalier at the start of the season,” Paysen, 20, of Wall Lake, Iowa, said. “We went out and picked up a couple of heat wins. In the first feature I ever qualified for, I was battling with Shannon Mahlberg and finished second. He beat me by .16 seconds.”
Just after the highest point of his short racing career came his lowest point. He destroyed his race car in a wreck.
“At the start of my racing career, I was not planning to ruin a car on the third night out,” said Paysen. “I wanted to call it quits. My family and friends pushed me to get a new car and build it to race again.”
Paysen found a Cavalier on the street, bought it, and then converted it into a race car with the help of brother Riley Paysen, uncle Brian Schmidt, and friend Andy Beckman.
“The only thing we could save from the old car was three struts — the rest of the car was crinkled up junk,” Paysen said. “We put in some long nights after working our regular jobs.”
For Paysen, racing has been his outlet for family time. His father, Jason, had raced, as well as his uncles Brian and Travis Schmidt from his mother’s side.
“My mom, Lisa, passed away unexpectedly in 2013,” said Paysen. “She had been bringing me to the races since I was in a baby carrier. My dad thought racing would be a great way to bring him together with me and my brother in order to try to understand my mom’s passing.”
The Paysen brothers raced karts with success. Then, Riley wanted to go sport compact racing.
“Riley bought a compact, and I helped him with the car,” Paysen said. “We sold all our kart stuff, and I decided last year I wanted to race with him again.”
Ultimately, friends and family are what drive Jake Paysen to race. Their support has done more than just help Paysen land his first sport compact win.
“I’m thankful that my family and friends pressured me to continue,” said Paysen. “All that hard work, all those late nights — it was all worth it. Winning feels awesome.”
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.