Daydream Believer

Quinten DeJong Specializes in Personal Training for Race Car Drivers…

Decades before NASCAR was born in 1948, there was dirt track racing. Started before World War I, but growing in the 1920s and ‘30s, enthusiasts watched as motorcycles, open wheel racers and stock cars rolled onto dirt tracks in cow pastures and open fields, becoming an attraction at local fairgrounds and gaining in popularity and momentum. Today, there are close to 200 races a year on tracks all over the continental United States, many happening simultaneously, and drawing large crowds of local supporters.

Photos courtesy of Quinten DeJong

For Quinten DeJong, being behind the wheel of a race car was the ultimate rush. The Iowa native first got on a track at age 6. “My dad started working on sprint cars when I was a little kid,” he says. “When I turned 6, he bought me a go-kart and I went to my first race.”

By age 13, however, he was out of the game. Cost and circumstance were the biggest hindrances. And by 18, DeJong was deployed on a ship with the Navy. By 2020, he had turned his attention to fitness and personal training. “I realized that I loved pushing people,” he says. “And when people are ready to quit, I’m ready to take them a step further than quitting.”

A brief bit of daydreaming between DeJong and his father about getting back behind the wheel led to a focus on personal training for race car drivers.

Photos courtesy of Quinten DeJong

“I started looking up personal training jobs, but there was nothing I could do, or spots open at training facilities,” DeJong says. “I realized that if I wanted to do this, I’m going to have create it myself. So, I messaged probably about 75 to 100 drivers before I got one person to respond. The guy that finally took a chance on me was a guy out of Knoxville, Iowa – ‘Sprint Car Capital of the World’ – named Jamie Bell.”

A month after DeJong began training Bell, he started training another driver, Chris Martin. A month after that, Bell mentioned a 15-year-old kid named Chase Randall from Waco, Texas. DeJong trained Randall for three years. Now 19, Randall is poised to race in some of the biggest races in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.

DeJong says a typical workout for a race car driver is either strengthening or endurance-focused, due to the toll that multiple laps around a dirt track will put on a body. The high speeds (140 mph on average) combined with the bumps and bounces of the track put pressure on the stomach, lungs and heart. “They’re not trying to go to the gym and lift 500 pounds,” DeJong says. “They’re going to try and lift 25 pounds 100 times.”

Photo by Jessica Zettlemoyer

While injuries can occur, DeJong says he works diligently to get his racers in the best shape possible to protect them. In addition to providing his racers (who are geographically scattered throughout the United States) with video exercises showing proper form, he also has weekly coaching calls covering topics like mindset, nutrition, water consumption and habit coaching.

The modern dirt track racing world is host to two national competitive sprint car series – the World of Outlaws and the High Limit Series. The World of Outlaws, established in 1978, is bigger in scope but hosts fewer races over the course of the year. The High Limit Series, owned by NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, was founded in 2021 and has flushed more prize money into the sport than ever before. Both have been a draw for drivers and viewers alike. And dirt track racing has grown tenfold from its days in cow pastures.

There is something special about racing on a dirt track, DeJong says. “There is the rush of knowing that every single week nothing is going to be the same. The compound of the dirt is going to change, everything is going to change.”•

Quinten DeJong
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Article Written by:

Jill Tydor is a Baton Rouge, La. native who has chosen the North State as her home. She is a writer and marketer with an MFA from California College of the Arts. Jill enjoys traveling, sunny days, and spicy food.

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