Rantens Enjoy Racing Together and Working Together
Brothers Chris and Nick Ranten not only work together — they race together, too. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
The two brothers race NOSA Sprint Cars at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks — Chris, 34, drives the #27 and Nick, 24, drives the #55 machine. The Rantens, along with Andy Zavoral, own RZS Enterprises, Inc., a company that does railroad and excavation work across the country. Zavoral is the crew chief for Chris Ranten’s sprint car.
“We’re on the road all week, and our crew is on the road with us,” Chris Ranten said. “It’s really tough to find time for (racing). 12 years into it, we’re doing it for fun.”
Chris, who lives in Climax, Minn., is in his 12th year of racing sprints and has three career NOSA wins and has been close on several occasions with many runner-up finishes.
“We have a fast car, but we never get the wins. We have lot of that should have gone our way that didn’t,” Chris said. “Maybe one day that will turn around.”
Nick, from East Grand Forks, is in his third year of racing, picked up his first career win on July 3 at River Cities Speedway.
“It was incredible, with it being at my home track of River Cities Speedway, it was exactly how I would’ve wanted my first win,” Nick Ranten said. “It was a lifelong dream come true.”
However, just two weeks later, he flipped his #55 machine violently off of turns one and two, destroying the car and bringing his season to a halt. Because of work commitments, he says it’s a “long shot” if he will return to the track this season.
“The pride hurts a little bit too, going from a win to the next time being in your race car you destroy it,” Nick said. “It really shows you how humbling racing can be.”
The work schedule, which requires a lot of travel and being gone from Monday through Thursday each week, limits the times the two brothers race. It also limits the amount of time they can work on their cars, which most of the time is on weekends.
“We’re gone all week, pretty much Monday through Thursday. It gets to be a grind, being gone like that all the time,” Nick said. “We’ve been doing jobs anywhere from Minnesota to Idaho all the way down to Alabama and everything in between.”
Both drivers hopped right into sprint cars to start their racing careers. Chris first drove a sprint car in 2008, driving one of Tom Egeland’s cars at a race in Minot.
“Tom Egeland got me started; he originally told me if you’re going to race a sprint car, you might as well start in a sprint car, because there’s nothing like it,” Chris said. “I remember when all the cars took off, it was almost blurry for me. I was hooked from then.”
Nick, who helped Chris with his car for several years, began his career in 2018.
“I didn’t have any racing background before that; I hopped right into the big one,” Nick said. “It was wild. When you drive the car, you can’t explain it — the immense amount of power there is there. It’s incredible.”
The two brothers work together and work on their cars together. They also don’t mind racing each other on the track.
“I love it,” Nick said. “Its funny, in years past, he’s always been faster than me, he’s done it for 10 years. Now I’m getting to the point where I can keep up with him and exchange some slide jobs with him, it’s been a lot of fun trying to outrace him every week. It’s makes the weekends interesting. We have a fun time with it.”
“I love it,” Chris said. “I’m older obviously, my mentality’s probably different than his. You’ve always got to be bigger faster stronger. At the end of the day, if he beats me, I’m happy for him. It’s a lot of fun. He’s made great strides in his racing in the short time he’s (driven).”
This season, Chris Ranten has raced five times in 2020. He has four top four finishes, including a pair of seconds. Including the win on July 3, Nick Ranten has two top five finishes.
“We’ve been so close to winning,” Chris said. “We’ve been right there in the hunt. Every night our car is fast enough to win. My goal is to rattle off a few wins. If not, we keep reminding ourselves we’re doing it for fun.”
No matter if it’s on the job site, traveling for work, at the track or in the raceshop, the Rantens get quality time together.
“It’s a lot of time spent together,” Nick said. “You get to the racetrack and you are still hanging out together. At the race shop you’re still together. We’re all basically best friends.”
NOSA Sprint #55
Residence: East Grand Forks, Minn.
Sponsors: RZS Enterprises, Lakeside Construction and Gravel, A and S Concrete, Redd’s Apple Ale
NOSA Sprint #27
Residence: Climax, Minn.
Sponsors: RZS Enterprises, Lakeside Construction and Gravel, Fitness Doc (Mike Garcia),