CHAMPIONSHIP COUNTDOWN; Drew Papke: Dirt Oval Pro Champion
By: Kelly Giddings
Drew Papke from Baldwin, North Dakota, is our 2019 Dirt Oval Pro Champion. Papke spends his time at his home track Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, North Dakota. He has been racing for fourteen years but jokes that he was born a racer. "I started racing dirt go-karts at the age of eleven. I began racing Legends at seventeen years old and have competed for the last nine years with Legends."
Papke says that winning the 2019 Pro Dirt Championship means a lot to him and his team. "We do not have a car owner or any sponsors, so, for us to accomplish what we did this season is an honor." He says that dedication, hard work, perseverance, and a little luck went a long way this year. "A true testament to INEXpensive racing!"
Papke says his biggest struggle this season was traveling to and from events. "Living in North Dakota, everything is hours away, sometimes even the grocery store or post office." Papke drove close to 40,000 miles this season to compete in thirty-four shows. "It is a huge commitment to spend time on the road, but the experiences we had this year will never be forgotten.
When asked what his most memorable moment was from this season, Papke reminiscence on the outstanding season that he and his team had. "It is difficult to pick out a favorite moment with so many to highlight." Papke raced thirty-four nights and won features out of twenty of those nights. He lists that he won a Track Championship, National Championship, Iron Man 100, Racing for a Cause, Turkey Bowl XII, and Oktoberfest. "Even with all the success, my most memorable moment was spending time with family and friends throughout the year, along with meeting new friends at different tracks around the country."
Papke says that the only race he wishes he could redo this season was Dirt Nationals at 141 Speedway. "We led twenty-nine of thirty laps in the Pro feature but ended up coming up short in the final lap. Picking up this win would have been the cherry on top of an already unbelievable season." He describes it as a defeating and humbling experience. "It served as a reminder that things do not always end how we would like them to end."
Papke plans to continue racing Legend Cars at select special shows during the 2020 season. He will also be making the transition to racing an IMCA modification, which will allow him to race a little closer to home. "My roots are in Legends racing, and I don't think I'll ever be able to move on completely. These cars are such a challenge to drive and make for very exciting racing on dirt."
Papke would like to thank his dad, Blake. "He is responsible for keeping the car going week in and week out. His help probably goes unnoticed, but is always appreciated." Next, he would like to thank his girlfriend, Megan. "She is nice enough (or crazy) to spend late nights in the shop and always supports any racing dream I have. She even drives the hauler with a 40' trailer." Lastly, Papke states, "There are so many family members and friends that help out in various ways throughout the season. I greatly appreciate everybody's help and support, and it goes to show that racing truly is a team effort!"
Congratulations to our 2019 Dirt Oval Pro Champion, Drew Papke.
Next week we'll be featuring Asphalt Oval Young Lion Champion, Zack Miracle!
Registration for our 2019 Championship Banquet has now opened!