WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–Just three races into the limited season at the West Liberty Raceway, 17-year-old Maguire DeJong remains undefeated in the #30M Modified. For each race at WLR, DeJong and his crew load up the racecar and drive the 70 plus miles from Montezuma to the West Liberty Raceway.
The son of Brenda and Matt DeJong, Maguire began his adventures in the sport of speed as a five-year-old, alongside his older brother (by two years) racing go-karts. The family started this hobby running at tracks, both near home and throughout the state. As Maguire gained success in the karts, the family started traveling nationally, as far as Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. By the time Maguire was 13, he graduated the go-karts and moved into 250cc winged sprints, compact, open-wheeled, high-powered race cars. His older brother, Michael DeJong, lost interest in the sport and quit racing around this time, but Maguire still had the need for speed.
At only 14-years-old, Maguire jumped into the open-wheeled modified. With his dad, Matt DeJong, as the head of the operation, two others joined the team. Maguire works on the race car during the week with the help and guidance of his dad. Jacob Ross, a slightly older friend, and family friend Partner Maschmann, now travel with Maguire and his dad to help crew for the #30M team.
This 17-year-old, soon-to-be senior high school student has won three races in a row and is currently undefeated at the West Liberty Raceway. This is against some of the most competitive modified drivers in the area – drivers like Chris Zogg, Kurt Kile, and Denny Eckrich, who all have multiple wins at our hometown track and several others.
How does Maguire do it? How has he been able to defeat this tough field of competitors, not once, but three times? Well, he keeps it simple. After working on the car through the week, Maguire and his team show up at the track, unload the car, perform a bolt-check to make sure everything is tight, and then check tire pressure. Maguire and one of his teammates head over to the track to check out the racing surface. If the track is still wet, he may decide to skip hot laps. His friend, Jacob, will get to work on tires, that have been washed and grinded. Family friend, Maschmann, will take care of adjustments on the car. After the qualifying heat race, the team takes Maguire’s feedback on how the car felt or what the track was like into account and go from there, with his father as director.
Maguire said he doesn’t really think about racing much before getting into the car, but once he’s belted with his helmet on, he’s focused. On the track, he knows his biggest threats, surround his new VanderBuilt race car, with engines roaring. Dallon Murty, Jarrett Brown, Cayden Carter, Denny Eckrich, and several others can break his winning streak.
Why does the DeJong Race Team travel well over an hour to get to WLR to face this kind of pressure? Simple, “it’s really fun.”’ Maguire enjoys the big half-mile track. Compared to the short track he runs and that are more common in eastern Iowa, the racing on a big half is cleaner with more room to move. Racing short tracks is cut-throat with sharp corners and short chutes, often causing contact with other race cars and resulting in damage or a scratch from the feature event.
Maguire says this season at the West Liberty Raceway has been really good. With a new chassis, he stated, “It’s a whole new car for us and we’re going in there blind.” Even with his current record at the track, he says he tries to stay humble.
“I want to thank my whole family for letting me go to races, and especially my dad. I need to thank the whole pit crew for showing up every week, and my sponsors.” To drivers and fans who haven’t been to the big half-mile, he says, “go there with an open mind and try to have fun. (The West Liberty Raceway) is probably the fourth half-mile we’ve been on. It’s relatively flatter than most tracks . . . it’s very unique.”
Outside of racing, Maguire enjoys fishing, hunting, and trap-shooting. He is also involved in FFA, where his school won state at an FFA competition and they are preparing for nationals in Indianapolis in the fall. He enjoys playing golf and is a member of school golf team.
You can watch Maguire race his #30M modified and see if he will hold onto his winning streak this Saturday, July 9 at the West Liberty Raceway for the Star Spangled Battle race event.
Along with the JR’s Car & Truck Repair Modifieds, you will see the Chown’s Appliances Sport Compacts, West Liberty Auto Parts – CarQuest Hobby Stocks, Aupp Automotive Sport Modifieds, Ag Services & Products Stock Cars, and the Pit Crew BBQ Late Models.
Hot laps start at 6 p.m. with racing at 6:30 p.m. Adult admission is $15, senior citizens and students, are $12, and children 12 and under are free. The Lil’ Racer Car Club will be there with giveaways and prizes. Kile Motorsports Racing Events is promoting and will have glow sticks and other glow items for children at the LRCC booth as well.