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  • tombergie01

You Meet a Lot of People in Racing

I’m an introvert by nature. It’s ironic because my dad was an extrovert and could talk to about anyone. Maybe it was his years of serving as a county commissioner that brought that out in him, I don’t know.

When I started the RaceChaser blog back in 2017 – hard to believe it’s been that long – I was a little apprehensive. I enjoy writing so that wasn’t the issue, but going up to introduce myself to people I don’t know isn’t a strength of mine. Sometimes, it would take me a lap or two (or more) around the pit area before I’d go up to drivers and talk to them. (True story, I have witnesses :) )

It turns out, meeting people has been the best part of the blog. I’ve met mechanics, engineers, business owners, contractors, truck drivers, drivers still in high school, drivers in their 60s and 70s – you name it.

So many different people, so many for the fun I want to highlight a few. Keep in mind I don’t have the time to list every good person I’ve met.

One of the good people I’ve met is Jerry Lee, the father of Wissota Midwest Modified drivers Cody and Haley Lee. Jerry also waves to meet and greets me at whatever track I see him, always is very supportive of the blog, and is genuinely a nice guy.

I give Kasey Ussatis of Nome a hard time, frequently ,but we’ve become pretty good friends. Kasey loves racing and loves being at the track, and his family is totally into racing which is fun to see.

Wissota Street Stock Jonny Carter is about as down-to-earth guy as you will meet in racing. He’s the same guy whether he wins or loses a race and I appreciate that. I can’t say that for all racers as some are just pricks after a race.

Bob Sagen of Arthur, N.D., is one of the smartest people I’ve met in racing. He’s raced for decades and was a highly-successful modified chassis builder when he owned Pro Chassis. Bob is known as the innovator, and he is never afraid to try something new in terms of setup. He wanted to win races and be competitive because of his brain and not his pocketbook.

Jeff Hanson of Barrett, Minn., has been a very faithful supporter of the RaceChaser blog. He drives the #15 Short Tracker and is really aiming for his first career feature win. Jeff always takes time to say hi and talk to me at the track.

Tom Corcoran of East Grand Forks has been racing for longer than I’ve been alive. He and I developed a friendship and talk on Facebook about anything from racing to the sorry state of our politicians to music history. He’s provided me a lot of insight into racing and history in this region and has been a good, respected racer for a long, long time. People in racing would be wise to listen to guys like him.

Larry Samuelson of Erhard always waves to me at I-94 Sure Step Speedway. He’s always the first one in the pit area – he has a nice shaded spot not far from the staging area. He’s usually sitting in a lawn chair enjoying the shade. Larry is another guy who is the same person no matter how he does in a race.

The street stock crew as I call them – Kyle Dykhoff, Justin Vogel, Ryan Satter and Eric Riley – are one of my usual stops at I-94. They all pit close to each other and usually are talking with a group. Good guys and very good racers.

The Ranten brothers who race sprint cars at River Cities Speedway – Nick and Chris – are busy people. Their business takes them all over the United States during the week and there are a lot of nights in hotels. Chris took the last season off but Nick remained behind the wheel of his Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint. Two pretty genuine people.

Neil Walton of Englevale has been a big part of the development of the Mini Stock class at Sheyenne Speedway. Neil is truly a character and his sense of humor is second to none. He loves being at the track.

Tyler Hall of Fertile, who drives the IMCA Modified #60, is one of the first people I encounter at Norman County Raceway. Always willing to engage in a conversation and has turned into a top competitor locally. Tyler has also been a mentor for another driver, Brody Carlsrud who is another really nice guy.

I’d met Clarence Washburn of Hector decades ago as a kid as he was friends with my dad for many years, but it was fun catching up with him at Viking and I-94 the past few years. Clarence is still having a blast racing late models at age 78 and his family is a true racing family. Wonderful people.

Will Miller of Sacred Heart is a guy who races IMCA Hobby Stocks at Norman County Raceway and Buffalo River Speedway. That isn’t a short trip each night, either, by the way. He won his first career feature, after many years of trying, last summer. Will is from my neck of the woods, in Montevideo (I grew up about 15 minutes to the south), and it was fun seeing the true joy and emotion after winning his first career feature last year.

One guy who I’d watched race for many years was veteran Hank Berry of Sidney, Mont. I had watched Hank race late models and modifieds at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen several times and getting to meet him in Jamestown was a thrill a few years ago. Very well liked and respected racer.

If you’ve never had the chance to talk to Corky Thomas of Glyndon, you should do it some time. He’s one of the real characters I’ve met, but he’s also a respected veteran who several drivers ask about car set-ups, etc.

I met the Mehrwerth family out of St. Stephen in 2020 at I-94 and did a story on them. That is a very good group of racers there…I’ve joked on Facebook with Ashley that she is a celebrity in central Minnesota racing . What I learned about them was their cousin, Justin Jones of Bemidji, is a long-time racer.

Then there’s the father-child racing combos, too numerous to mention. There are third generation racers. All the female racers who’ve been a great addition to racing.

I don’t have time to mention all the good people I’ve met through racing, in particular through RaceChaser blog. Different ages, backgrounds, personalities, professions, you name it. And that’s been the best part and why so many of us like racing.

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