Rob Rose – Driver

By Chad Meyer

“This is bigger to me than if I made something like the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” exclaimed Rob Rose after he found out he was going to be inducted into the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame located in Algona, IA.

“I grew up hearing all the stories of my dad racing over there. Man, that was the place to race,” Rose said, whose father Skip won two races in 1973 at the Algona track. One of those wins was the Road Runner portion of the Midwest Stock Car Championship.

Rose grew up in Mason City and worked at that track picking up trash and selling popcorn. “My interest in racing came from my dad. He raced off and on in the 60’s and 70’s. His friends raced and [racer] Jack Piper was our neighbor.”

Rose started racing in July of 1988. He turned 16 years old and the following Sunday he was racing at his home track in Mason City. “We bought an old Enduro car, which was formerly driven by Larry Portis. It didn’t run real great. My first race we didn’t finish. The car got hot and quit.”

“In 1989 we build a Factory Stock, a big old 73’ Monte Carlo,” remembers Rose. “We were struggling with it until mid-season when John and Craig Ruppelt said we had the tires in the wrong places. We fixed that and won five races in Mason City and one in Algona.”

That win in Algona was his first at the track. “That season Tim Strayer was so hot at Algona, he dominated [the Bomber division]. Strayer got a flat in the race and I went on to win. It was Mid-Season Championship that night and I remember getting a bigger trophy than he had all year. He was upset about that. Got a bottle of champagne too. They made sure I didn’t drink it since I wasn’t of age,” he laughed.

In 1990 Rose moved up to an IMCA Stock Car and raced that for two years. In 1992 he made the switch to the IMCA Modified class, where he spent most of his career. After that first win in Algona during the 1989 season, Rose won 15 more times in his career there, which ties him for the 28th most wins all-time. Two of his wins were the 1995 and 1997 season championship features.

His best season at Algona was 1999. Rose won during the July 4th races and then Mike Hejna won the next weekend. Then Rose went on an unforgettable win streak. “I then came up one lap short of winning four weeks in a row. We won three times and I passed Mike Hejna and was going to win the fourth. Then the yellow flag came out and Hejna passed me back and got the win,” he recalls.

Algona continues to hold strong memories. “My dad raced there when he could. He raced on the half-mile at Mason City and the quarter-mile at Algona. Hearing all those stories from back then from Algona, it became such special place to race. Algona for me was always the place to be,” he says.

“Everyone was so good to me, so respectful. Mark Noble, Denny Anderson, Ricky Joe Smith, Tim Erpelding. It was a dream to get to race against them. Algona was the place I wanted to race and hangout.” Rose remembers. “To start 15th or 16th those nights and pass all those cars, beating those guys who I grew up liking was something.”

Even though Rose doesn’t race much these days, he’s still very involved. “I stopped racing and haven’t done much since 2018 in order to focus on my son Kyle’s stock car. I raced my brother-in-law Joe Schmitt’s car so I could race with Kyle a couple times. That was really cool!”