Being part of the racing family
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CUTLINE: As technical inspector for the speedways in West Union and Decorah, Mike Paulson’s job is to ensure that all the racecar drivers are following the rules in both the safety and performance aspects of racing.
Being part of the racing family
By Amber Hovey
For Mike Paulson of rural Hesper, dirt track racing has offered a career opportunity many race fans may not think about every Friday and Saturday night of racing season.
Paulson became the technical inspector for the Fayette County Speedway in West Union in 2000 and later was offered a job at Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah, as well.
“I thought it was kind of interesting. I have been around racecars quite a bit,” said the inspector.
He started helping friends work on their racecars in the late ‘80s.
“One of the first races I helped in was an Enduro race at Fayette County Speedway,” recalled Paulson.
He has helped from time to time with various tracks throughout Iowa and Minnesota with the USRA, the sanctioning body under which many tracks run.
“Every year I learn something new, and it (being a technical inspector) keeps me in touch with the drivers and fans,” said Paulson.
Every Friday and Saturday night, racecar drivers and race fans can see Paulson and his fiancée, Lori Shuros, ensuring drivers follow rules in both safety and performance aspects.
“I kind of dragged her along to begin with, and now I can’t keep her at home,” laughed Paulson. “She’s been a big help.”
The inspector also helps to set up the rules and any changes while making an effort to keep costs down for the drivers.
Shuros steps in with weighing the racecars to make sure they are within their class weight limit.
“It’s fun to watch them at the beginning of the year and see them progress and get better as the year goes on. It has been real enjoyable; I never thought I would be doing anything like this,” smiled Shuros.
For the racing couple, the best part of their job is the racing family.
Two guys may dislike each other on the track, but if someone breaks down, other racers are there trying to help get that person back on the track, explained Paulson.
“This is a family sport,” added Lori. “Fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters are all racing together.”
“I have been doing this long enough that some of the kids racing now, we were racing against their parents when I was helping on racecars,” noted Paulson.
“The most difficult part is disqualifying somebody. I have known most these guys for years. It’s my job, but it’s still tough,” said the longtime race fan.
The couple became engaged this spring. Before then, the couple hadn’t been in contact for 30 years, even though they had known each other as kids.
They got in touch again in March 2012.
“It just kind of went from there. It has been a lot of fun getting to share the experience,” said Paulson.
He even bought the engagement ring from a sponsor of the one of the racecar drivers.
“If I’m going do something, I’m going to the people that support the drivers,” he added.
“We work well together,” said Shuros. “We can read each other’s mind out there.”
Even on the couple’s rare nights off from local racing, they can be found at the races.
The last night the couple had off, they visited Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn., which was Shuros’ first time at that track.