Sauters Find Unique Spot In Motorsports History Johnny's Victory in Iowa Makes Him Fourth Sauter to Capture ASA Victory PENDLETON, Ind. (May 3, 2001) - When Johnny Sauter crossed under the finish line to collect his first career victory, it was...
Sauters Find Unique Spot In Motorsports History Johnny's Victory in Iowa Makes Him Fourth Sauter to Capture ASA Victory
PENDLETON, Ind. (May 3, 2001) - When Johnny Sauter crossed under the finish line to collect his first career victory, it was a sight that made the entire state of Wisconsin proud. But his story is somewhat legend of sorts. It has been rewritten on several occasions, with the most recent coming when 23-year-old Johnny celebrated his birthday early by capturing the Iowa 300 at Hawkeye Downs Speedway on Saturday, April 28, and became the fourth member of the Sauter clan to capture the checkers in ASA history.
More than a win for Johnny Sauter and a breakthrough for his career, it was a win for the entire family, whose origins are in Necedah (WI). It was a win that would only solidify a unique position for the Sauter family in ASA Racing. "It was an unbelievable feeling," said Jay, the oldest of the brothers to have competed in ASA's ranks. "ASA is so competitive and to see him win was just one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt. And with the history of our name in ASA, it means even more. I am glad to see that Johnny could carry the Sauter legacy one step further."
In 1979, only 11 seasons after ASA was born, Jim Sauter climbed into his number 34 Camaro at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds Speedway, against the likes of Mark Martin, Dick Trickle, Mike Eddy, Don Gregory and Rusty Wallace. In his first ASA start, he finished 29th after starting ninth.
But this father of 12 (Jay, Tim, Teonna, Danielle, Therese, Gabrielle, Jennifer, Angela, Jim Jr., Johnny and Andrea with his first wife who passed away several years ago and Joe with his second wife, Debbie) would eventually go on to collect seven ASA victories over his eight-year ASA career, despite only running full-time for three of those years. Eventually, he would spend some time in Winston Cup, in Busch Grand National and, even still to this day, spend some time working closely with the International Race of Champions (IROC).
The Sauter legacy turned the page toward two generations in 1980, when father Jim and his son Jay started the season's 11th event at the Minnesota State Fair. It was Jay's debut, racing to a 13th-place finish along side his father, who was only four races into his ASA career.
Jay Sauter, now 38 and a top competitor in the Busch Grand National Series, was the first child to reach victory lane. Despite his 16-year ASA career (only eight full-time seasons), Jay walked away with the legacy of being a constant front runner and threat to win, but it was only on one occasion, at Berlin Raceway in 1992, when he captured that allusive ASA victory.
"My dad was always my hero," said Jay. "We just always went out and did our best in everything we did. I know it meant a lot to win that first ASA event. It was kinda like I had accomplished a goal and I was a full-time racer."
The second-oldest child, Tim, another accomplished Wisconsin short track racer, was the next to make his way into the big leagues. Tim took to the track in ASA for the first time at Anderson (IN) Speedway in 1995.
After a couple of rough seasons of part-time driving, Tim found a full-time ride beginning in 1997. After two years of becoming one of the front runners, Sauter finally found the Winner's Circle in what is probably the most successful season for any of the Sauters, and maybe the proudest moment so far. The 1999 season saw Tim collect three wins, 15 top-five finishes and the 1999 ASA National Championship.
"Being a Sauter, there is a sense that you are expected to win," said Tim. "But with that comes desire. Being a Sauter and being raised around racing, having brothers who all raced, it was the desire and I took the most from it. I have always been a hands- on guy, so being successful made me even more proud.
"Having the last name of Sauter is a tough act to follow. It was hard for me, because my father and older brother had both already won. It was up to me to take it upon myself and capture the winning tradition. But the pressure to win was more because of t he Sauter desire to win."
Tim now has the opportunity to compete with his brother, this time in the Busch Grand National Series. But Tim, and his six career wins, is one to not get too far away from the ASA ACDelco Series. Fact is that his Busch shop is right across the street from Johnny's ASA shop, and the fact that Tim, 36, and Johnny share an apartment in North Carolina; Tim still helps out his little brother.
But it was only days ago now when both older brothers, while running in the Busch race in California, were being constantly updated of little brother's progress during the Iowa 300 by team members who had the race on in the pit area. With both races getting done at virtually the same time, it was an exciting time for the brothers.
"I was so excited, I could barely get unbuckled, because that is when I found out he had won," said Jay. "I just went running up into the lounge of the hauler and caught his winner's interview."
Tim felt the sense of pride that was knowing what it meant from a family level. "The crew guys had the race on and told me Johnny was going to win. I could barely get there fast enough," said Tim. "The win means a lot to me on a family level. I know how hard everybody, from my dad to Jay to Johnny and everyone has worked to be successful. To have four family members win events in a nationally touring series is just unbelievable. It is a testament to this family."
Johnny's win in Iowa was a lifelong dream to him and will now only fuel his desire. "It never really hit me what this meant to our family until (TNN Pit Reporter) Bob Dillner said something to me in victory lane," said Johnny. "Obviously, ASA is a big playing field and it is a major accomplishment to win here. Jay called me about two minutes after the race was over. I want more now. With some people, they are content when they win one, because they have proved to themselves that they can. To me, I just want more and more now."
Johnny's admiration comes from both his brothers too and obviously, his entire family.
"It is just unbelievable," said Jay. "To be as young as he his and have all that talent. He has it all. To come out and win in ASA ... I was just very excited to see him there on television in victory lane."
Tim knows that Johnny earned it.
"I am most proud of what he has done with that team," said Tim, who drove the same car for the same team in 2000. "He has taken over the car from me, but that is about it. He has called all the shots and has done a lot of this on his own. He got a good c rew chief and has put all the things together to make the team be successful. He has this aggressive nature to him, almost too much to go along with all of that talent. But he is maturing so much. Eventually, all that will be left is that raw talent, then watch out."
So, Johnny Sauter's victory put his name among the other 81 drivers to have won an ASA event. Could Jim Jr., also 23, ever make it to the Winner's Circle? He races late models currently in Wisconsin.