A Cedar Rapids racing icon had his final wish fulfilled: one last lap around his Hawkeye Downs race track. Forty-eight-year-old Jim Amstutz, the track’s general manager since 1998, died of cancer last week and this past weekend friends and family fulfilled his request to have the hearse bearing his body take a lap around the track, escorted by the drivers who were his friends. Drivers say the track was his life, and “buttons would have busted off his shirt” if Amstutz could have seen the turn-out for that last lap. Amstutz not only was the general manager of the facility, he was the voice calling the races for fans in the stands. Wendy Carnahan, one of the few women who race at the track, was in her car to pay her respects to Amstutz because she says he treated everyone at the track like family.”Being a woman racer in a male dominated sport, I had many discouraging nights,” Carnahan says. “He’s the reason I’m still in this sport.” Carnahan and the other drivers say the track was a home-away-from-home for Amstutz, and it was fitting to be at the track to say their good-byes. Amstutz was buried near his home in Lisbon.
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