David Hesmer Makes a Return to Weekly Sprint Car Racing

David Hesmer Makes a Return to Weekly Sprint Car Racing
Friday, May 17, 2013
David Hesmer Makes a Return to Weekly Sprint Car Racing
By Joanne Cram

When David Hesmer stepped away from weekly racing to focus more on life as a father and business owner in 2005, he found that the draw to Knoxville Raceway and his family of race friends was more difficult to avoid than he had thought. After six seasons of spectating, he is making a return to weekly racing at Knoxville Raceway.

For those fans who are new to Knoxville Raceway and don’t recall the name, David Hesmer and the Hesmer family name are deep rooted icons in Knoxville’s history. David began coming to the famed half mile when he was just a young boy to watch his dad’s IMCA sprint car in the late ‘60’s. In the seasons before Knoxville, David’s father, Ken, was involved in stock cars, racing around the Midwest for a couple seasons before making the switch to Knoxville. David fondly remembers his youthful summers with fellow racer Mike Twedt, playing at the races while their dads were working in the pits.

While working at a bank David's mother, Sarah was approached by Mr. Pemble, who was a customer of Sarah's. The conversation turned from banking, to putting David in his first racecar. David began racing the mini sprint throughout central Iowa in his last couple years as a high-schooler. In the following seasons, the team progressed to a winged version of the mini sprint and raced on Friday nights in Marshalltown and Sunday nights in Jefferson- opening the door for spectating Saturday night’s races at Knoxville. David knew he would eventually race on the half mile some day. Meanwhile, Terry Thorson competed at Knoxville in the 360 class in 1986, then that off season, Ken Hesmer hired Terry to drive the 1987 season at Knoxville for the Hesmer family car, allowing David to learn as much as he could about the 360 sprint car.

In 1988, David officially started his sprint car career. On his first race out, he started in the 11th spot and took the checkers in the first place position, followed by a 2nd place finish the next week. He won 5 features his rookie year, and clinched the track championship. The last race of the 1988 season, Harrold Annett offered to let David borrow an engine. The Hesmers were so impressed with its performance that they ordered an identical motor to start the 1989 season. Hesmer missed the first few races of that season waiting on the finished motor, but still won 9 features and ended up 3rd in points.

1990 found Hesmer in the Jordan Brothers car of Pleasantville at Knoxville weekly. From 1991- June of 1993, David drove the Hesmer family car, sponsored by TMC and Mr Harrold Annett. While in the Annett car, David became the inaugural 360 Knoxville Nationals winner in 1991. In 1993, David sustained a career halting accident in turn three that kept him out of the driver’s seat until 1996. When Archie Ergenbright needed a back up driver, David felt he was physically and mentally ready to get back behind the wheel and agreed to race part time for a few races. Part time turned into nearly six years with the Ergenbright/Hesmer car. Again in 1997, David was on the podium behind the 1st place trophy at the 360 Nationals. Hesmer earned 2nd in overall points in 1996 and 2000, and was 1st in points 1997, 1998, and 1999.

Hesmer then moved into the family owned car in 2001. While in the Hesmer family #1, David won numerous features, and was always in the top 4 of the season point championship chase. David raced the family car until 2005, where he made the decision to hang up his driving suit and focus on his daughter, Alix as well as his business, Action Auto Parts. He was determined to learn to live life outside the white walls of the half-mile at Knoxville Raceway.

Admittedly, Hesmer failed miserably at learning to live that non-racer, civilian life. He has been spotted in the pits most Saturday nights ever since “retiring”, and claims that he is not successful at becoming a spectator of sprint car racing. What he missed most was the family within the walls of Knoxville Raceway- blood relatives or not, he says they are the most loyal, faithful, and fun-loving family he’s ever had. That kind of relationship to a group of people is rare. He felt he took for granted how close he was to the Sprint Car Capitol of the World, knowing how far some of the drivers come to race here weekly.

So when Bryan Sundby of Newton called to put a team together, Hesmer was ready to take the challenge. He will again be in his familiar #1 car, however he will be pitted on the front stretch with the other 410’s, as opposed to his familiar 360 back stretch parking spot. With 65 career A feature wins under his belt, David is ready to add to that total this year at Knoxville Raceway.