VINTON, Iowa – The next time Tom Gutowski goes to the track, he’ll actually get to watch the races.
After a dozen years of crisscrossing the country, Gutowski has retired as IMCA’s competition director. His last day on the job was spent helping write rules for the 2019 season.
“There are not a lot of people who get to make a living doing something they enjoy,” said Gutowski, who’d been the first licensed IMCA Modified driver in Nebraska and was a 2016 inductee into the Nebraska Auto Racing Hall of Fame. “What I’ve enjoyed most has been the people. Ninety-nine percent of IMCA racers are excellent people.”
After ending his own on-track career, Gutowski promoted at Crawford County Speedway, Shelby County Speedway, Buena Vista Raceway and Nebraska Raceway Park before joining the full-time staff at IMCA.
His travels to supervise pre- and post-tech inspection, and share his years of experience with local track officials took Gutowski from coast to coast and border to border.
“I kept track for a while. I’ve been to close to a hundred different tracks. I’ve been from Canada to Louisiana and California and Oregon to New York and Pennsylvania,” Gutowski said. “I went on the Dakota Classic Tour nine times, then did the Wild West Shootout this year. I’ve pretty much been all over.”
“It’s been fun to go to new tracks and meeting new promoters,” he added. “I’ve enjoyed sharing the IMCA perspective with them.”
A regular at trade shows and swap meets during the brief off-season, he’s been a mainstay in the tech tent and infield at the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s.
“There were times when we got done with tech at 6:30 a.m. and had to start the next day’s pre-tech at 8 a.m. Super Nationals was always my make it or break it event. I knew if I made It through that week I’d make it through the next year,” said Gutowski, who turns 73 in January. “There were times when I had to disqualify people and hated to do it, but the rules are the rules, especially at Super Nationals.”
While other plans for the future are to be determined, Gutowski will attend the IMCA national awards banquet in Lincoln later this month. He’s also looking forward to attending races next year as a spectator.
“I’ll actually be able to watch some racing,” Gutowski said.
“Timing is everything and the timing of Tom’s hiring was perfect, for him and for IMCA,” said Brett Root, president of the sanctioning body. “Tom brought a promoter’s perspective to the table and that was something our previous competition directors did not have. Tom’s experience as a racer and a promoter made us a better organization. We thank him for that and wish him the best of luck.”