Storm Lake's Pat Cross is upping the stakes for him and his family this upcoming racing season.
For the past five years, Cross has raced IMCA Hobby Stocks in Alta at BV Raceway. In 2005, he'll be racing for national points.
That means he'll compete three to four times per week at at different tracks, including in Harlan, Boone, Jackson, Minn. and Blackbird Bend.
"It's going to be a busy summer," Cross told the Pilot Tribune Thursday night. "When you're racing that much, it seems like you're with your car at the track and away from it.
"But it's something we've talked about ever since I started racing, and we finally decided to go ahead with it this summer."
That increased racing schedule will affect the entire Cross family. Pat's dad, Reg Cross, will help work on the car two to three nights a week. His mother Deb keeps records and charts of Pat's races and his 29-year-old brother Scott provides financial support.
"That's one of the reasons I race - it's become a real family sport for us," Pat Cross said.
Cross might already be working on the IMCA Hobby Stock car he bought five years ago from Jason Michaelson. His racing season begins Feb. 25 when he'll compete at the Abilene Icebreaker race in Abilene, Texas.
"It's the first IMCA national points race of the season," Pat Cross said.
Last September, Cross got a taste of national competition at the Boone Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa.
He made his mark there, taking fifth in his heat and qualifying for the main event. In that main event, he took 15th place overall, not bad for a first-time racer in a national event.
Cross was the only racer from Storm Lake to compete in Boone last fall Three BV Raceway regulars - Andy Boeckman of Wall Lake, and Dustin and Donovan Smith of Lake City - were the others.
"It's a big event and the last national points race of the season," Cross said. "The best IMCA drivers from all around the country were competing."
Cross' racing resume, meanwhile, is impressive. In each of his five years racing at Alta, he's taken second place in an individual race and in just his second year there, he took second place in the point standings.
Last season, he finished in ninth place in the IMCA Hobby Stock division.
Cross remembers before he started racing, he had a hard time believing that a car's horsepower wasn't the main factor in how a racer finished. Now, he feels differently, noting that good race driving makes a huge difference.
"If you're smooth driver, you're going to be a lot more consistent and win more races," he said. "Even though I don't get that adrenaline rush that I experienced when I first started racing, I still love to compete."
Goals are important to set for race drivers, and Cross is no exception. He'd like to finish in