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Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track

Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track

Innovation, community, people and faith are core values that Dominie Scholte founded Pella, Iowa on nearly 200 years ago as he immigrated from Holland to establish a better life and a beautiful town. Today, that same Spirit of Pella can be felt amidst the community and preserved by people who treasure their Pella roots, just like sprint car driver Tyler Groenendyk and his efforts to make a difference in his community by using his racing to serve others.

Groenendyk was born in Oskaloosa, but spent most of his childhood between the family farm in Leighton and Pella. He started racing go-karts in Newton at age six, then at 18 moved to dirt modifieds but shortly after fell in love with winged sprint car racing, where he competes weekly at Knoxville Raceway. Nine years ago, Groenendyk married Pella native Mollie Van Wyk and considers himself a Pella native since he spent so much time in Pella growing up and the fact that his grandmother Bert Van Sant (Kaldenberg) immigrated to Pella at age three from Herwijnen the Netherlands. He was raised on strong Christian values and always felt life was more about making a difference in another’s life before seeking personal victories.

When asked about Pella and what is so special about the community he mentioned it’s where his grandparents immigrated and raised a family. He then added in a very profound way, “I am very aware that God is doing something very special in Pella. Year after year He continues to sustain the community and attract new residents and businesses with core values that want to be involved in community and have the financial resources to invest in the future of Pella’s economic growth. Pella is thriving where other surrounding towns are trying to stay alive. There is a “spirit” that can be felt as you’re out doing life in Pella. There are no adequate words to describe that feeling, it’s simply divine. It’s one of the most generous cities I know in the way residents give back.” Having grown up in this culture is perhaps why Groenendyk has a calling in his heart to use his race team to change the future of those he meets.

A winged sprint car driver at Knoxville Raceway and graduate of Pella Christian High School, Groenendyk, 32, asked himself, “how can I create a race team that never loses” as he prepared to return to racing for the 2021 race season. Traditional race teams measure their success by on-track performance results solely and finishing first. “In most cases, what happens on the racetrack night after night determines a team’s worthiness, financial backing and media attention and can impact whether or not a driver has a ride week to week”, Groenendyk adds.

Groenendyk said he turned that mindset upside down when performance on the racetrack had to be secondary to his team and it had to be about a greater purpose. “It had to be about giving back and making a difference in the community,” Groenendyk said “and by starting with the end of the season in mind, our team would be celebrating all God’s goodness because what we did outside the racetrack with our race team always would bring a win.” “So, no matter how bad the night is, or whether I blow a motor or get involved in an incident that parks me early for the night, using our race team to touch another’s life already makes us a winner,” adds Groenendyk, and “that’s where we win every time.”

This insight came to Groenendyk while missing two seasons after becoming a new father and spending time with his wife Mollie raising their son Jax. Having raced sprint cars for eight years, those two years off gave him a lot of time to think about his past performances, frustrations and his reason for racing. Everything is a teaching moment when you have kids, so Groenendyk not only wanted to return to racing and use it as a way to bless the community but to use it as a teaching moment for his son Jax.

Dreaming is Believing Motorsports Foundation was birthed by the Groenendyk’s as a 501c3 non-profit several years ago. The mission is to utilize motorsports events to impact the lives of children battling life threatening illnesses - one race at a time. Everything is about a mission and giving back. To implement their winning strategy, the Groenendyk’s intentionally aligned with crew members Alan Gettings, second cousin and James Roth, a coworker at Vermeer Corp., who were on the same page about the 2021 race season being about changing the lives of others.

“When looking for marketing partners I once again asked how do we package it so we attract and align with like-minded businesses interested in their community who wants to be about changing lives and wasn’t solely concerned about whether we finished on the podium every night. When we rolled out our campaign, God blessed it and aligned us with the perfect business partners, many of them based in Pella. We are incredibly thankful to Bruxvoort’s Home Center, Randall Roofing, Trick-Tools, Cabinet Design of Pella, Tulip City Agency Insurance, Pella Electronics, Pella Precast, Roose Adventures, Gale Farms Racing, Legacy Real Estate Group, Kraig Chevrolet, Striker Racing, Studio 42 Photography, Schroeder Graphics & Signs and EagleOne for their sponsorships,” concludes Groenendyk.

This summer Groenendyk has several fundraising campaigns underway to help two local Pella families with children battling terminal illness. During the June 10th Thursday’s in Pella Race & Rev night on the square in Pella, Groenendyk will have his 305 PACE Winged Sprint Car on display. He invites the community to come out and support his teams’ newest fundraiser. For every child that climbs into Groenendyk’s #17 sprinter on June 10th and has a photo taken, business partner Dennis Fogle of Pivot AM Service is donating to the foundation $15 for each photo taken. This specific fundraiser will go to help a local Pella family whose young son is battling a condition called Sanfilippo syndrome. It is a rare autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disease that primarily affects the brain and spinal cord and life expectancy is short.

Additionally, business partner Randy Jarzombek of Randall Roofing is co-sponsoring one of Groenendyk’s fundraising efforts which is providing financial assistance to a Pella boy battling cancer. For every Groenendyk Racing t-shirt sold, Randall Roofing will donate an extra $5 to the fundraiser efforts for this local Pella family. Groenendyk will have his racing t-shirts on sale during Pella’s Race & Rev night June 10th. Both of these fundraisers are examples of how Groenendyk ensures that his vision of giving back first keeps him focused on the greatest prize ever; that of changing a life! Groenendyk invites the community to join him on the square June 10th and go home with a racing t-shirt that has far more value than what you paid for it.

Groenendyk also has a soft spot in his heart to mentor the youth. “It’s been a particularly tough year of isolation, not feeling wanted and noticed, depression is on the rise. Science proves that when helping others, a chemical is released from the brain that creates great joy, making any struggle in life manageable.” He strongly encourages the youth that are struggling to get outside themselves and find way to help another human being.

There are all kinds of roles in racing that a young person could get involved with and many race teams are looking for pit crew members that can do light maintenance and clean up on the race car or working in the shop or helping with social media. There are opportunities to serve at the racetrack in the concessions, parking cars and even with media. Racing is a way to build lasting relationships and to create a family away from home, making life so much more meaningful and joyful.

So how is this innovative mindset working out for Groenendyk and his race team? He is focused, confident, relaxed and having a lot of fun and sharing his racing with his little boy, who is turning out to be quite the mud-scraper. Not only is Groenendyk showing up as a Champion of Life, he is showing up as a Champion on the racetrack, sitting in the number one spot as the points leader for the 305 PACE Series Sprint Cars at Knoxville Raceway, with two feature wins in the books already this season.

“There are no words to describe how I felt pulling into victory lane for the first time to celebrate with my wife Mollie and my boy Jax as well as my crew. It was my first night of the season in the new car and series and on the night my sponsor Craig Ford with Pella Motors/Kraig Chevrolet was sponsoring the race night for Knoxville Raceway, it was so emotional,” Groenendyk recalls. It was an emotional victory, with tears in his eye’s he thanked the Lord and all that have believed in him. “My racing and my life is centered around the Lord and he has grounded me and already blown me away with incredible results.” We were already victorious with the work we are doing off the racetrack and then to show up in victory lane twice this season is incredible.”

Groenendyk is grateful for all the blessings of his victorious results and has invited his sponsors and his fans to join his race team on the square in Pella, Thursday June 10th for Race & Rev night and support his two fundraising efforts. Activities begin at 6pm. Race & Rev night is hosted by the Pella Area Community & Economic Alliance (Chamber of Commerce) and is sponsored by Groenendyk’s team sponsor Craig Ford of Pella Motors. Pella Motors will have the 2-seater sprint car on hand for photos. Special guests for the night are the NOS Energy Drink World of Outlaws, who are in town to race at Knoxville Raceway June 11th & 12th. The WoO’s will be displaying their 53” command center, which is the operations and brains in running and scoring a WoO race. Fans can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Outlaw’s command center.

Additionally, the WoO’s Fun Engagement Team will be coordinating fun yard games with prizes and assisting with driver interviews, in which Groenendyk will participate in from stage. Over 40 race cars of various divisions and five race tracks within two hours of Pella will be on hand. Enjoy great food, games in the park for the kids, and entertainment from the stage. Franklin Street and Broadway Street will be closed for parking and through-traffic beginning at 3pm, so plan accordingly. The Pella City Band will close out the evening with music from the Tulip Torne. The Spirt of Pella is waiting for you. You have to experience it in person!

About the writer: Lori Cutter is a member of the Pella PACE Alliance and an accredited motorsports journalist by the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) and Co-Organizer of Race & Rev night with Tyler Weyers. Contact: 503-349-2778 cell.

Article Credit: Lori Cutter - Champion Race Promotions

Article Media

Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track
Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track
Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track
Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track
Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track
Tyler Groenendyk, Knoxville Raceway Sprint Car Driver, Champion On and Off the Track

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