Article by Richard Butschi and Joey Gase Photography by Richard Butschi
At age 4, Joey Gase was turning laps in the driveway with a “yard kart” that his dad, Bob, bought for him. Joey will turn 27 on February 8th. Eight days later, he will be turning laps on the 2.5 mile track at the Daytona International Speedway for the Daytona 500.
Gase started his driving career in 2001 at Hawkeye Downs racing in junior go-karts. By 2007 he was racing full-size cars in the Modified class. At the age of 16, in 2009, he became the youngest driver to win the Late Model Championship at Hawkeye Downs. Gase graduated 2 years later from Xavier High School, then spent a semester at Mt. Mercy pursuing a degree in business before leaving to race full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Tragedy hit the Gase family in April 2011 when Joey’s mother, Mary, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. When this happened the doctors asked the family if she would have wanted to be an organ donor. This was something they never talked about before, but knew if she could no longer continue her life, she would want to do what she could to help others continue theirs. They were amazed to discover she was able to help save and improve the lives of 66 people by being an organ, eye and tissue donor! This has become a driving force in Gase’s life and the lives of his wife Caitlin and sister, Ashley. He has become an advocate of organ donation and has sponsors such as Donate Life, Eternal Fan and others to help spread the message. His efforts didn’t go unnoticed as he was presented the Comcast Community Champion Award at the jointly held post-season banquets of the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Racing Series in 2015.
Gase got his first start in the Xfinity Series (formerly Nationwide) in August of 2011 at Iowa Speedway driving the #39 Go Green Racing Ford where he finished 20th, giving the team their best-ever finish at that point. His best career finish in Xfinity was in 2015 placing 5th at Talladega racing for Jimmy Means Racing. During his career in this series he has raced for Jimmy Means Racing, Go Green and MBM Motorsports – just one step down from NASCAR Cup Series. His 2019 race team was MBM Motorsports where he was not only the driver, but also PR director and head of Sponsor Relations, which is rare to see in the NASCAR world today.
This past Summer, Gase was back at Newton, racing in the CircuitCity.com 250 on June 16th, (blowing an engine on the 47th lap) and the US Cellular 250 on July 27th, (finishing 19th). He stuck around after the June event to race at his home track, Hawkeye Downs. It was a charity race for organ donation and the Iowa Donor Network. Eternal Fan, one of Gase’s sponsors, would award $1,000 to the winner of the “Be A Hero 30” race. Joey, along with his dad, Bob (coming out of retirement) went wheel-to-wheel with eventual winner Tony Olsen. Joey finished 2nd and Bob finished 6th. Bob raced late models and modifieds from ‘85 to ‘05 and that night used the same car that won him a Modified Division title at the Downs in 2003. Bob also drives Joey’s RV from track to track and helps Joey cater to sponsors.
This past December was a month of major changes for Gase and his family. After a busy 2019 season - starting 32 of 33 Xfinity Series races, along with 11 Cup starts – Gase signed on full-time with Rick Ware Racing in the upper-level Monster Cup Series, starting February 16th at the Daytona 500. Early in December, Joey and wife, Caitlin, celebrated their 1st anniversary, but topped that milestone a few days later when she delivered twin boys, Carson and Jace! To say that their lives have gotten more interesting is quite an understatement, but perhaps it will spur Joey to hustle across that finish line and get back home to the wife and kids. Good luck to all!