Former Iowa wrestler transitioning into dragbike racing

Andy Hamilton
Former Iowa wrestler Brody Grothus (left) is transitioning into dragbike racing.

Brody Grothus thought the next step of his competitive career would be moving faster by now, but patience probably isn’t a top trait for those who reach triple-digit speeds on two wheels.

The former Iowa wrestler traded in his headgear and singlet for a helmet and racing suit after his eligibility with the Hawkeyes expired in March. His career in dragbike racing is about to take off in a couple weeks.

“Hopefully,” Grothus said, “by the end of the year, I’ll start riding the big dogs.”

He’s talking about the nitrous-boosted motorcycles that can go from 0 to 100 mph in two seconds and reach speeds up to 175 mph. His father, Ed, builds those bikes in their shop near the Quad Cities. Brody’s brother, Brunson, a two-time national champion, is the team’s No. 1 rider.

Brody said he’ll get his start in handicap racing, zipping down the track at speeds up to 155 mph before transitioning to his brother’s division.

“Those things fly,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a reason I can’t just throw a leg over one of those and say, ‘All right, let’s do this.’ ”

Grothus was 14 years old the first time he reached triple digits on a motorcycle. But his racing career has been shelved in recent years while his focus centered on wrestling.

He compiled a 48-28 career record for the Hawkeyes and qualified for the 2014 NCAA Championships at 149 pounds. He was 14-2 midway through his junior year when he suffered an ankle injury and teammate Brandon Sorensen seized the starting job. An offseason shoulder operation kept Grothus off the mat for most of his senior year before he returned at 141 and went 4-6.

Iowa's Brody Grothus wrestles Purdue's Danny Sabatello at 141 pounds at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Grothus won by decision, 6-0.

“I’m always going to miss competing (as a wrestler),” he said. “But as far as the sport goes, I think I’m in a good place. I put in a lot of hard work and effort and time. I’m not satisfied with how my career went, but I can look back and smile on some accomplishments I had. I didn’t reach my goals in the sport of wrestling, but it’s good for me to step away from it right now and kind of relax and enjoy life.”

It may seem like a paradox to talk about relaxation and dragbike racing in the same breath, but his racing career is about to get up to speed. His family left this week for Rockingham, N.C., where Brunson will race and Brody will pick up a bike that needs repairs. They hope to have it running and ready to race later this month.

“Eventually, this racing thing might become more serious for me, but right now it’s just a way for me to enjoy life and go travel across the country with my family and go do something that’s super intense and super exhilarating and something we get to do together,” Grothus said. “Fun is the easiest word I can use to sum it all up.

“I think you’ve got to enjoy the rush of feeling like you’re getting boosted out of a rocket with no seatbelt on. That’s really what it is. They’re pretty cool machines.”