Column By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – DAVENPORT, IA – Challenges present themselves to every driver on the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series. However, a new challenge emerged for Gordy Gundaker midway through his sophomore campaign.
In June, Gundaker’s girlfriend, Savanna Schatz, gave birth to their daughter Eloise. And as the St. Charles, MO driver prepares for the My Place Hotels Quad Cities 150 presented by Hoker Trucking at Davenport Speedway on Aug. 24-26, he’s enjoying every second of the experience.
“It definitely changes your perspective on life and your priorities,” Gundaker said. “It’s been a great experience already, and it’s crazy to see how fast she’s grown just in two short months. I’m excited to watch her keep growing.”
What’s new about that experience is the grind of the schedule that keeps him away from his family. While they’ve been at events since Eloise was born, Gundaker was away from them during USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway.
It’s a challenge he’s still learning to navigate.
“We’re on the road a lot, and obviously, I want them there as much as possible,” Gundaker said. “But in reality, that’s just not the way it works. It’s definitely tough when we’re out on the road. We just came back from Cedar Lake, and I didn’t get to see them for almost seven days. I just couldn’t wait to go home and see them. It’s just part of going through it, but they also understand I’m out on the road trying to make a living and provide for our family.”
Savanna understands that life well as the daughter of 10-time World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz. Gundaker said it’s been fun having the Sprint Car legend in his corner.
“Donny has been great,” Gundaker said. “It’s neat to see how involved he is as a grandfather to her. We got to spend the week in Knoxville last week, and Donny won a prelim night. The first thing he wanted to do was hold her in Victory Lane. It’s really neat, and it’s been a fun experience.”
While he’s had good times off the track, luck hasn’t gone his way in World of Outlaws competition over the last two weeks. Gundaker has been in contention for a good finish numerous times, but part failures have stopped his momentum.
At Cedar Lake, he stripped an oil pump belt while leading a Heat Race on night one and blew a motor during a Last Chance Showdown before Saturday’s finale.
“It sucks,” Gundaker said. “That’s the easiest way to put it. I hate to say that’s racing, but sometimes that’s the way it is. Everybody’s gone through these spells. You look at the best guys in the country at some point. They’ve hit a spell where things don’t go your way. Unfortunately, we hit them at a bad time with the PDC and Cedar Lake, where we had a really fast race car, and things break. Parts failures happen.
“You’d love to say you can control all of them and that they’ll never happen again, but that’s not the truth. It sucks, but at the same time, everybody knows we have a fast race car, and the team’s not going to stop working just because we had a few bad weekends. We’re just going to rebound leading into Davenport. We like racing there. We’ve had a little reset and really got to go back through some things. And hopefully, all of the kinks are worked out.”
With his challenges, Gundaker is determined to have the perfect balance between fatherhood and racing when the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to Davenport Speedway.
The Show-Me State driver is confident he’ll be walking away with the $30,000 prize at the end of the weekend.
“There’s no time like the present,” Gundaker said. “We’ve been fast. The confidence is not lacking by any means. We’ll be prepared, and the idea is that when we leave on Saturday, we’ll be leaving with a trophy in our hands.”
Gundaker and the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to action at Davenport Speedway for the My Place Hotels Quad Cities 150 presented by Hoker Trucking, Aug. 24-26, along with the Xtreme Outlaws Midget Series presented by Toyota.