COLUMBIA — Every Friday evening, hundreds gather at Callaway Raceway in Fulton to see six classes of cars speed around the quarter-mile track. The pit is a cacophony of noise set against burning summer sunsets that make metal and sweat glisten shades of red.
Revving and backfiring engines, the purr of quads zipping from station to station, the shrill of drills and the steady buzz of generators cover the crackling sounds of the announcer congratulating Steve and Angie Dieckmann on their second anniversary.
Steve Dieckmann drives the No. 24 car in the Sportsman class. He is a husband, a salesman and the father of four children, with another on the way.
“My team is basically me and my wife,” he said.
Angie Dieckmann supports Steve’s racing; she's at the track most weeks to help in the pit and record the races. Steve said Angie never lets him know her worry for his safety, but he has heard her tell other people “she’s a nervous wreck.”
The two are expecting their first child together in November; Steve is hoping for a little Carl Edwards.
Steve Dieckmann works long hours as a salesman at Henderson Implement Co. in Columbia. Several vendors sold at the store — Bad Boy, New Holland, Scag, Mahindra and Gravely — and attorney Michael Whitworth sponsor his car.
“If it wasn’t for them,” the driver said, “I probably wouldn’t be racing this year.”
Although Steve Dieckmann’s sponsorship is growing, he has considerably less money than other drivers. He explains that when it comes to racing, “money is everything … the guys that have the money … run up front every night.”
He jokingly calls himself a “budget driver.” Without major sponsorship and no team, he does most of the work on his car himself, sometimes using secondhand parts to cut costs. Tires are bought from drivers who only use them for one race.
Even with less money in his car, he remains competitive. “For what we’ve got, I’m tickled to death to run in the top five every week,” he said.