DAVENPORT, IA – Jeff Hoker’s son brought him to his first dirt race about 10 years ago. The experience was an instant bonding moment between the two and the birth of a new venture.
Hoker, his family, and their Hoker Trucking business became long-time supporters of Davenport Speedway and several local and national drivers. For his contributions to the sport, Hoker is being honored as the grand marshal during the opening night of the My Place Hotels Quad Cities 150 presented by Hoker Trucking at Davenport on Thursday.
“In my mind, Jeff is one of those guys that has, for lack of a better word, has put his money where his mouth is,” said Steve Francis, World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series Director. “He’s helped tremendous, tremendous, amounts of racers and events in that area. Just look at the cars that have his name on them, from a Jason Feger, to a Chris Simpson, to a Bobby Pierce, to a Ricky Thornton.
“[Jeff and his wife Penny] work and want to help the racers. Their Toys for Tots event, all the things they’re involved in, even not racing oriented, just shows what a stand-up guy he is.”
The more Hoker and his son, Michael, went to races, the more his interest in the sport grew. Already life-long friends with the Kays that promote Davenport Speedway, Hoker dipped his toes into the sponsorship relm by supporting their son Justin Kay, who ran a Modified.
Then, his interest continued to grow. Hoker wanted to sponsor a Super Late Model.
His son already had a driver in mind – Bobby Pierce, now the current World of Outlaws points leader.
“We were talking about sponsoring a Super, and [my son] was like, ‘Listen, you’ve got to watch this kid, you’ve just got to watch him.’ That was the very first Super Late Model we sponsored was Bobby then,” Hoker said.
Now, Hoker’s name can be seen on multiple cars and as the presenting sponsor of the Quad Cities 150 (Aug. 24-26). For him, the initiative has been a success in terms of marketing to customers and attracting drivers. But the best part is the same reason why he fell in love with the sport: the connections.
“The bonus of it is, we enjoy doing it,” Hoker said. “I love going to races. I’ve gotten now to where I’m buried in it. We’ve gotten to meet so many great people, honestly. The guys we sponsor, it’s more than a close business deal, they’re all friends of ours really. It’s more than a business deal at that point.
“The bonus part to begin with was being able to spend time together with my son that wasn’t business related. It was just something we did. It was something him and I got to do on our own. It wasn’t business related. It wasn’t work related. It took all that work pressure, stress, at least for the weekend, it was gone. That’s how it started and then it… it kind of went from there.”
The three-day My Place Hotels Quad Cities 150 presented by Hoker Trucking will feature the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota. Fans can also participate in the Hoker’s Haul for Toys for Tots each day, enjoy a pre-race show in the midway (at 6 p.m CT on Thursday and 5 p.m. the rest of the weekend), and see a Semi-Truck Light Show following the races.
Hot Laps will begin at 7:30 p.m. (CT) on Thursday and then 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.