Bluhm Right at Home Piloting a Plane -- and A Race Car
Dustin Bluhm’s day job might be as exhilarating as his hobby.
On several nights in the summer Bluhm pilots the No. 45 Limited Late Model at racetracks in western Minnesota. During the week, he is also piloting something — an airplane. The Herman, Minn., resident has been a crop duster for the past 14 years.
How did he get into crop dusting? Well, it turns out he was bored at his job selling cars at age 20. He was working part-time at the airport in Willmar, Minn., on weekends, and decided one day to do something different. One day, while looking at flight schools online, he found a crop-dusting school in Bainbridge, Ga.
“The first time I dipped underneath a set of highline wires and buzzed the treetops, I was like, this is it, this is what I want to do for a career,” said Bluhm, who owns and operates Dakota Ag Air. “14 years later and 100,000s of acres sprayed — we’re rolling.”
When it comes to a career choice, Bluhm has no regrets. His job takes him all across the midwest, including to Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa and the Dakotas.
“It’s a job that is all wrapped up into one. From the biggest part of straight hell, to you wake up in the morning, holy cow this is the best job you can ask for,” Bluhm said. “When it get demanding and stressful, it gets tough. It’s a good all-around job…we try to stay busy as much as we can.”
His interest in racing started much younger near his home town of Clara City, Minn. It was when Cory Tammen — who now runs a late model after years in the street stocks and super stocks — buzzed by his house on a go-kart that sparked his interest.
“I went to a race, and the next week I got a go-kart,” Bluhm said. “It started there and now we’re here.”
Bluhm started in the B modified division but had to make a financial decision.
“I couldn’t afford to run up front racing a B mod competitively anymore,” he said.
It was late model pilot Steve Anderson that got Bluhm into a late model. Anderson offered Bluhm a chance to run his car — a car that Sprint car ace Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks had wheeled the night before. After running that car and talking more with Anderson, Bluhm had his first late model.
“He gave me a heck of a deal,” Bluhm said.
He raced in the Wissota Late Models for a few years, starting with his rookie season of 2015. But when he hurt his Wissota motor, Bluhm started looking at other racing options. That’s where the Limited Late Models, which are in their third year at I-94 Speedway, came into play. Soon Viking Speedway and Madison Speedway added the class.
“Kevin and Gary Schuelke at Sturdy Engines, said they’ve got a B mod concept motor sitting on the shelf, why don’t you grab it,” Bluhm said. “The first couple of nights, I thought I was well underpowered. We kept working on the car and freeing it up. This car is so good now it’s crazy.”
After recording one feature win last year, this year, in five Limited Late Model races, he has one feature win and four second-place finishes. He also has competed against the big late models twice, including with a new Black Diamond car last Friday at Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo.
If you look at Bluhm’s car, you will see the JDRF One Walk logo on it. Supporting the walk is personal to him — his daughter, Skylynn, is a Type 1 Diabetic.
He is hooked on crop dusting for a career — and racing as his hobby.
“Racing is one sport, hobby, passion that takes every aspect to compete,” Bluhm said. “(It takes) time, to creativity to passion to be competitive. It’s also the people you get to hang out with. People you’ve never met become your best friends and competition. Your hard work at the end of the week you get to see if your ideas worked and be triumphant standing on top of that car at the end of the night.”
Limited Late Model #45
Residence: Herman, Minn.
Sponsors: Mettler Fertilizer, Fly Boys Barbecue, CHS, Dakota Ag Air, Marthaler Chevrolet (Glenwood), Morris Co-op, Satter Seed Co., Donnelly Co-op, JDRF Diabetes One Walk