Bryan Sundby knows sprint cars inside and out. For more than 20 years, Sundby has been in sprint car racing working as a mechanic for drivers like Sammy Swindell.
“I’ve been on the road with the World of Outlaws (Sprint Car Series) for the last 19 years of my life. We basically were living out of a truck and traveling all over,” Sundby said. “Finally, we decide it was time to work for ourselves, so we started our own team. Newton was a great fit for us.”
Sundby, owner of BDS Motorsports, is holding an open house this week at its Newton shop at 1306 N. 11th Ave. E. The racing team is showcasing its sprint cars it races every week at Knoxville Raceway. This week the cars are in the 54th FVP Knoxville Nationals.
Justin Henderson is behind the wheel of the BDS Motorsports cars. Henderson finished third in the 2013 Knoxville Nationals. He is sitting second in the weekly race standings for the 410 series at Knoxville this season and BDS Motorsports is leading the ownership points standings in the 360 series.
“Newton is a good place for us to have the team because of the people around us here,” Sundby said. “Al Parker of Parker Engines is here in town and Carl Jeffrey of Kustom Sprintcar Supplies is across the street. We have a powdercoater we use right down the road.
“Being in the vicinity of I-80 and Iowa Speedway and having Knoxville just 28 miles down the road, Newton fit our needs.”
Sundby and his father, David, came to Newton in 2011, but didn’t have the shop ready to operate out of until 2013. Sundby said he was still on the road in 2012 working for sprint car drivers.
In 2013, BDS Motorsports had its cars ready to race at Knoxville. Sundby was in search of a fulltime driver for his 410 series and 360 series cars.
“We had a short list of experienced drivers who could do what we needed for what we wanted to accomplish and we had a long list of drivers who could be developed. To develop a driver takes a bigger budget,” Sundby said. “We began searching for a guy in between those two.”
Sundby said Henderson was persistent about wanting to get in the BDS Motorsports car fulltime. He said Henderson came to the shop and made his pitch.
“Justin was the right fit. We’re a small-budget team compared to all the teams we race against. No one expects anything from us. Our claim to fame is ‘we do more with less,’” Sundby said. “I’m owner and mechanic for the cars and Justin is our driver. We work well together.”
He explained a lot of times there’s miscommunication on a racing team which has an owner, a mechanic and a driver. Sundby said as owner/mechanic, he is able to watch the race car, know what the car needs and recognize if Henderson needs to correct something.
“We both make mistakes, but we talk about it and correct it. It is simple and direct,” Sundby said.
They aren’t making many mistakes in the 2014 racing season at Knoxville, running near the top of both series at the dirt race track.
“We’ve been mostly concentrating on Knoxville this season,” Henderson said. “We’ll see where the future goes. Things look good going into the Nationals this week. I was supposed to have qualified Wednesday, but we got rained out.”
Knoxville Raceway announced Wednesday night it would run both Wednesday and Thursday’s qualifying races Thursday night. That was changed Thursday afternoon.
Only the Thursday qualifiers were run and the Wednesday qualifiers were moved to Friday night. Friday’s Last Chance Qualifying/Speed Sport World Challenge will be run Saturday afternoon. Saturday night will be the finals of the Knoxville Nationals.
Henderson has been driving sprint cars since 1996. The South Dakota native raced at Knoxville in 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2008 fulltime before coming back at the end of 2013 to drive for BDS Motorsports.
“Sprint car racing is where I want to be,” Henderson said. “I enjoy coming back to Knoxville every week. It is one of the best tracks in the country for sure. The competition is fantastic this year with a lot of good cars.
“We’ve got really good equipment and we’re always fast. With that combination, there’s nothing you can think about during the week except getting back in the car and racing.”
Sundby said the motors for the cars are built by Parker Engines of Newton, the chassis is by Maxim of Springfield, Ill. and the wings for the car come from Wisconsin. Other components come from various companies.
“We assemble and put the right combination of all the parts and pieces together for the best car we can have,” Sundby said.
“I don’t know that I give the team a whole lot. I just try to make sure they know I’m always trying my hardest when I’m out on the track,” Henderson said. “They give me awesome cars with fantastic motors, which gives me every opportunity to go to the front. I sit in the seat on Saturdays and they take care of everything else. On dirt, if you can keep it (the car) locked down tight and go fast, you’re golden.”
Sundby and BDS Motorsports are not just about sprint car racing. They want to win races and championships, but Sundby stressed part of the team’s goal is to promote Newton.
“We love the small-town atmosphere and we want to get the community involved with our team. We want to help business in Newton grow and raise the awareness of what we have here in Newton,” Sundby said. “We’ll do whatever it takes including doing car shows and parades to help the city.”
Racing teams are about sponsorships. BDS Motorsports’ cars have Newton sponsors on them.
“Most people think it is way too expensive to be a sponsor. We have the right packages for any budget. We have room to fit sponsors on the cars. We custom-taylor things to help promote businesses right here in Newton on our cars,” Sundby said.
“I have friends from out of town here right now for the Nationals and they are here in Newton spending money. We want to get people coming to Newton and put money into our economy.”
Along with Sundby, the BDS Motorsports crew consists of Jim Farland, Jimmy Rethmeier, Tristan Rethmeier, Jeff Oskam, Randy Ray and Steven Murphy.
Contact Sports Editor Jocelyn Sheets at (641) 792-3121 Ext. 6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org.