Driver/Car Owner/Sponsor in the Modified Division
How did you get into racing?
My Dad took us to Shawano or State Park Speedway when we were kids. I have been hooked on racing ever since I was 8 years old, and knew that I wanted to race as soon as I was old enough.
What do you like about Slinger Super Speedway?
I love racing at Slinger for the excitement and also the people who have made Slinger one of the best race tracks in the country. The racers who have made Slinger their track are the best racers. The staff and Todd Thelen have done a great job returning Slinger back to its glory days.
Who do you need to thank?
Crew: My Crew Chief, Gary Budzien, who has been with me since 1980. He has given up many weekends and family functions to help me go racing and without him it would have been very difficult. Mike Budzien (Video & Media Director) besides being a great crewman on two cars every race day, Mike does all of the video and editing for Team Diamond. Teri Janasik (Hospitality and Social Director) is my fiancee and makes sure that all the little details are handled like feeding the crew and guests, making sure the driver stays hydrated and has all his safety gear… She makes racing fun again. Bill & Jan Prietzel are a huge part of Team Diamond. Bill does the lionshare of building – rebuilding both cars, set up, weekly maintenance and driving coach. Jan, besides keeping track of all the vital things like tire temps, qualifying times and line ups, she also is the head parts procurement officer and assistant hospitality director. Without Bill and Jan we probably would not be racing. Mike Vogt, Sr. came aboard this season to be the voice of reason…well, that might be a stretch but Mike does a great job as my spotter. Part time help is also appreciated. Sue Budzien is the tire specialist when she has a free night off the trains. David Slack and Jess help out whenever they have a free night also. Jeff and Tom Jasinski help at the shop throughout the off season and if there is something major, they are always willing to stop over to lend a hand at the shop or track.
Sponsors: Diamond Racing Wheels, Quality Auto Repair, Koss Mfg., GB Restoration, Quality Custom Framing, LD’s BBQ in East Troy, Behling Racing Equipment, Wehrs Machine are all sponsors on both cars.
Anyone else: Todd Thelen and the staff at Slinger Speedway for everything that they do to keep short track racing alive in Southeastern Wisconsin.
What is your real job?
My real job is R&D Engineer for Diamond Racing Wheels…. (R&D stands for Race & Destroy)
Do you have any pre-race traditions/superstitions/foods/etc..
No Superstitions… I wear my Lucky 95 t-shirt that my friend and competitor, Jerry Blystone, gave me…. to bring me good luck.
What is your favorite racing memory at Slinger?
I am probably the last guy to win a feature at Slinger with a Big Block Chevrolet engine…. 468 C.I. engine
How did you get your car number?
I am currently driving the #11 car. Bill Prietzel is driving the #1 as he is the reigning Slinger Speedway Modified Champion. Everyone knows that Diamond Racing Wheels are #1 so we took that number back when I started racing Modifieds back in 1991.
If you could have dinner with any three people (alive or dead, real or fictional), who would they be?
#1 would be my Dad…. He passed away in 1985 when I was 25 years old. I was his shadow growing up. Donald Trump would be #2…. I admire a man who does what he said he would do…. in business and politics. #3 would be Tom Klippel. The voice of the Hales Corners Speedway and a very close friend of mine who passed away way too young.
You have been very generous with putting up contingency bonuses for the Modifieds since their return to Slinger (Champion=4 wheels, second place=2, third place=1). What prompts you to do that?
We have supported the pavement modified division at several tracks to try and get more cars. This division used to have over 50 cars racing at Slinger, Madison weekly. We have worked hard with several promoters to try and revive the Modified division through better rules and purses.
Which Slinger driver (past or present) do you respect the most?
There are many great drivers past and present that I have a ton of respect for. If I had to pick one at the top of my list it would be Al Schill… Al could jump into any car and run up front on dirt or pavement. He was a multi-time champion both in Modified and Late Models. He helped me a lot when I was starting out with parts and let me scale my car at his shop. Both Al & Gwen have been a huge supporter of many racers over the past 50 years.