Don Doocy – Driver, Owner

Don DoocyBy Chad Meyer

It was a love of automobiles and a desire to be working on cars that led Don Doocy to the sport of racing. A self proclaimed ‘gear-head’, Doocy spent the better part of his life working on cars, racing them or figuring out how to make them go faster.

It was in 1959 that Doocy’s career in the sport started when he, Marv Gangsted, and Sonny Wolf began to build a race car for themselves. Their initial car building efforts proved to be bit futile though as the trio opted to purchase a race ready coupe from a racer in Armstrong, Iowa. While it was a used race car, it was a proven runner and they were ready to start racing at the half mile Algona speed plant.

Doocy put his driving aspirations on hold and put Algona racer Bud Peterson behind the wheel of the car numbered 4X. They found success early in the hands of the capable driver and Doocy recalls that Peterson was a good wheelman. “Looking back, we were fortunate to have some real good drivers in the car and Peterson was certainly no different,” Doocy recollects.

Don Doocy and Bob WeberAfter a stint with Peterson as the driver, Fort Dodge racer Sam Esslick was next in line to drive for Doocy. The car Esslick drove came from a more complicated story. Don’s brother Larry traded their #22 race car for a go-cart. The new owner of the race car couldn’t race it since his mother didn’t approve of the sport. Somehow track promoter Lamont Wellendorf ended up with the car and gave it back to Larry Doocy. The Doocy’s were now back in business as car owners and raced with Esslick for several years.

Doocy ultimately got the itch to take the wheel himself…though his first race results didn’t allow him to leave the track with bragging rights. Coming out of the fourth turn at Algona Raceway, Doocy lost control and hit the outside wall during the heat race, sending him to the sidelines for the rest of the night.

In the late 1960’s, Doocy found his racing groove and success behind the wheel. He recalls one year where he built and raced three race cars and losing them all to the claim rule. Then, the tracks in this part of the Midwest utilized a ‘whole car’ claim rule in which anyone (including crew, owners, even spectators) could claim purchase your race car for $150.

Don DoocyDoocy recalls that his first car that year was claimed by Dutch Honsbruch for Jim Edgington to drive. His second race car was claimed at the Cresco track by a fellow competitor who went by the name ‘Tex’. Doocy was running strong with that car and it seems that Tex’s main interest was to build an exact copy of the car to figure why Doocy was so fast.

The story of that second lost car to the claim gets more interesting when you factor in a bit of revenge. Doocy collaborated with Don “Shiney” Hilbert on a plan to get even and get Hilbert on his way to his own racing career.

The next week Doocy loaded up his hauler with his third car of the year and Hilbert rode along, but sat in the grandstand. Hilbert sat quietly with a group of fans and family of the driver that claimed Doocy the week before. After he was certain that ‘Tex’ brought a fast car back to the track, Hilbert claimed that car back for the customary $150. Needless to say ‘Tex’ wasn’t happy and left the car sitting on the ground, sans tires and lug nuts.

The final bit of irony in the story was that the claim rule required the claiming driver to race the car the next two consecutive races at the same track he claimed the car. Hilbert would have to put his driving debut on hold as he had to attend Iowa National Guard training. Doocy instead drove that ‘new’ car at Cresco, winning in his second stint behind the wheel.

When 1970 arrived, Doocy opted out of the driver seat and built a pair of mid-1960 big-block Chevelle’s. Burt, Iowa’s Bob Weber drove the red ‘deuce’ at Fairmont, Minnesota, while Les Wildin drove the other number two at the Jackson half mile. Doocy recalls the stiff competition in that day and says, “We sure learned a lot those years, racing against the likes of Dave Bjorge, Butch Householder, Sonny Morgan and so many others.”

Don DoocyAs the ’70’s decade began to wind down, so did Doocy’s involvement in racing, albeit only for a short time. Both he and his son Doug relocated to the state of Texas, working in road construction. Gradually, the pair became involved in the sport again with Don helping out friends in the region and Doug striking out on his own racing career.

Don moved back to Iowa and was reunited with IMCA mod racer Bob Weber in 1988, helping build motors and the car. Doocy helped out other racers in the area as well, until son Doug moved back to Iowa in 1993 and the father-son team began racing IMCA type modifieds.

Doocy has many favorite memories from his years in racing. He recalls his early years in the sport were influenced heavily by hanging around Gene Schattschneider and Wayne Meyer. He also cherished the time he got to spend racing with his brother Larry, who was involved with him right from the start.

He says his proudest achievements as a driver were winning the point championships at the Mason City track twice. The biggest feature win of his career came during a July 4th invitational race held at the Cresco track in the late 1960’s. Doocy beat out over 100 other cars for the win that day in his ‘Blue Deuce’.

While the Doocy Motorsports team has raced across the Midwest and the nation on the USMTS tour, one of their proudest moments occurred in recent history. After helping his son Doug race his way into the 1996 “Big Bud Shootout” at Algona Raceway, Don later watched the #87 run to the win of the shootout that night.

Today, while Doocy says he is retired from the automotive repair business, the truth is he is still at the shop almost every day fixing cars, tuning hot rods or building race cars. The sport has brought him a lot fun and probably even more friends and acquaintances that stop by the Doocy shop on their way to the races.