Slinger Sportsman Champion, 1963
Southeastern WI Short Track Hall of Fame, Class of 2007
How did you get into racing?
I started racing when I was just a kid, in the Soap Box Derby. The field next to our house had a motocross track, but we used it with our bicycles. We built up berms, and it was so cool. Then I went into the Soap Box Derby and did really well. John Kaishian when I get out of the service in ‘61, gave me a couple of old cars to race and I really liked it. So that’s how I got started. I stopped racing after I broke my back in ‘74 at Wilmot. My wife said, “If you could go back, you wouldn’t do it again, would you?” I said, “Yea, I would”.
What did you like about Slinger Super Speedway?
It was a small dirt track. I’m a dirt guy, and Slinger was my favorite. I loved going up there on Sunday nights, it was part of our routine and I always looked forward to Slinger.
Did you have any pre-race traditions/superstitions/foods/etc
No. Just put the pedal to the metal.
What is your favorite racing memory at Slinger?
There were a lot of good memories, and some memories that weren’t so good. I remember one night at Hales Corners when I took some air out of the tire and it was just enough to make it dig in…and flip. It took about 20 minutes for them to get me out of the car, and they ended up taking me to the hospital. But I told them at the hospital that I had a car to race and needed to go, so I signed some papers and got out of there. This is where Slinger comes in…the following night at Slinger I was racing neck and neck for quite awhile with Billy Johnson (I think) and then I got a horrible, shooting pain in my chest. I pulled into the infield. I ended up having a broken sternum from the wreck the night before, so I was out of commission for a couple of months.
What was your first car number?
Number 40 – that’s what was available at the time. After that it was based on where you finished in points the year before.
If you could have dinner with any three people (alive or passed), who would they be?
At first I thought about Miles Melius, Fuzzy Fassbender (we got along really well), and Frank Smith, and I would like to have breakfast with them all. But after I thought about it, I’m a Christian and #1, no question, that I would like to have dinner with is Jesus Christ. For second and third, and I’ve talked to these guys several times, but they are my racing heroes: Steve Kinser and John Force.
What was your first street car?
A ‘29 Model A sedan; I bought it for $45. The guy who cut my hair (in a shop next to the one-room schoolhouse) had cataracts and couldn’t drive it anymore. I told him I’d like to buy it if he ever wanted to sell it, and then he was ready. I took my driver’s test on my 16th birthday, in that car.
You started out in Sportsman and then switched to Modifieds. How did that happen?
I had an opportunity to drive for car owner, Larry Meyer who was the crew chief for Aaron Solsrud. He had a ride available and asked if I wanted to be in it. I was number one in the Sportsman and had a chance to move up! The Mods were way faster and more of a challenge. So I started driving for Larry, and he was very kind to me…I was kind of a screwball. An open-wheeled car is a whole lot different, but he was patient with me and we did fairly well. I remember going past Billy Johnson on the outside at Hales and was pretty proud of myself for passing him…so proud that I forgot I had to take my foot off the gas for the corner. I hit the cement wall really hard. Then I had a chance to buy a car, but the car was a train wreck. It was too heavy of a car for the torsion bar on it, so I was kind of disappointed with the car. Then one night at Cedarburg a guy from Escanaba – those guys were always buying our cars back then – well, he asked if I wanted to sell my car. I played hard to get and finally got a really good price for it. Then I built a ‘55 Chevy Corvair, raced that for five years and moved up every year in the points.
Which Slinger driver (past or present) do you respect the most?
Miles Melius would have to go to the head of that list. There were a lot of really good drivers, but Miles was outstanding. The guy who owned his car stored it by me and one Sunday after church I took the cover off of it. I wondered what it would be like to sit in the car, and got in. It was unbelievably UNcomfortable! My knees were in the way of my elbows, the steering was crooked, and it had a heavy top. He must have been a really awesome driver to break records in that thing. If he would have had a good car, he would have been unbeatable. I have a lot of respect for a lot of the guys who raced with me back then.
Anything else you wish we would have asked?
Well, I’m a Christian, and that’s the most important to me. All the stuff in the world will pass away so what’s most important is where are we going to spend eternity? The Lord has really been good to us.