This holiday season—tell them thanks.
Bree tells us who sparked her racing career.
I can count on my dad to be a shoulder to lean on, a teacher to learn from, and a best friend to live out my dreams with.
She understood that project meant a lot to me and she wouldn't let me quit on it.
Frank Galusha talks about the legendary influence on his racing career.
Not only is Brian is one of the most decorated car builders, but he is extremely giving and full of life.
I'm thankful for my dad. I'm thankful for him for many reasons and getting me involved in this industry is just one of them.
Jess Gasper, of Speedway Motors' marketing department, shares how a Model A project brought lifelong friendship and a way through grief.
Ken was there from day one. They both enjoyed the shop banter and Ken became a rock that George could lean on.
I am thankful that my dad taught me everything I know when it comes to cars, and to never doubt myself.
Tim Matthews, curator of the Museum of American Speed, talk about his great uncle Jim's life-changing generosity.
By day he, he was the gentle giant managing the Mitchell concrete plant. By night, he was one tough cookie.
His single most important achievement, however, is the rapport that he had with his fellow man.
Working on the car never felt like a chore, at least not when we were working with dad.
The Nebraska racing community has provided entertainment and friendship that will be with me my whole life.
But most of all, we were best friends. We were the "real" street outlaws before there were Street Outlaws on TV.
People commonly ask me where my passion comes from and how I acquired a job where my love for cars is aligned so perfectly with my daily work. The question causes me to spend more time thinking about my heroes and those who have fueled my love for cars. I remember cars being an integral part of my life from as far back as I can remember. My father had been a circle track racer, restorer, and car freak since before I was born. I spent my formative years hanging out in junk yards, at car shows and swap meets, and my daycare was my Dad’s garage where he always had a car project in the works. I suppose a memoir of someone who fuels my automotive passion would start with my Dad as the obvious choice, but I would rather go further back in time to remember and document the person who started it all in my family - my great uncle Jim Matthews. Jim, known in his time as “Jimmy” or “Big Heavy” was a hero in my family but also to many generations of racers and fans.
As I grew up stories of Jim and his racing adventures were always present in our home. My dad would tell of how he drove his ‘69 Chevelle on the rural gravel roads pretending to be Jim. “I would duck down into the ditch to take the inside line of a sharp corner…always wanting to be like him”.
I know my father looked at Jim’s challenges and saw how he rose above them through his automotive endeavors. Through racing Jim was noticed and adored. Cars became a method of achieving a freedom and identity my Dad longed for. My dad fell in love with the car first for the hope and freedom it represented as he observed over and over with Jim’s racing. Jim’s love of racing and competition directly sparked the passion for my Dad which was certainly passed down to me.
It's amazing how the course of history hinges on subtle details and kindness shown to others at just the right time.
When I sit in my old 1940 Ford coupe, I often think of Jim. He piloted so many cars just like mine sending each and every one to the iron pile after squeezing every last ounce of “go” out of them. I become quite emotional thinking about him and imagining what I might say to him if I had a chance. If I could speak to Jim, I would give him a big hug and thank him for the kindness he paid to my father when he needed it most. I would thank him for not blaming my Dad for wearing out Jenny because it was certainly taxing on a grandmother to raise a boy at her age. I would tell him that I regularly repeat the stories I have heard about him to my young son and daughter ensuring his memory will live on. Our family was short on male role models but he made up for it. Had he not been such a well loved and admired race car driver my Dad’s life would have taken a different path and I certainly would not be writing this as a car-crazy automotive museum curator. It is amazing how the course of history hinges on such subtle details and kindness shown to others at just the right time.
The racing historian Tom Savage described Jim best in first pages of his 1979 book titled “Jim”. Tom describes the first time he saw Jim near his 1937 Ford coupe dirt racer at the track. “My very first impression of the man was that he resembled the movie actor, Marlon Brando, in a scene from the movie ‘On The Waterfront.’ In that particular scene Brando had just survived a tough street brawl and appeared worn out, dirty and tougher than a bag of nails. Jim was wearing blue jeans and a T-shirt. Both were grimy from racetrack dirt. The T-shirt was bulging at its seams from the powerfully built arms and chest. Except where the goggles had protected his eyes, his face was caked with dirt and sweat. Small trickles of sweat had drooped strands of hair across his forehead. His eyes were piercing and he wore a cocky grin on his face. In his right hand he grasped a cold can of beer. In that very moment he looked like he could have taken Brando in a back alley brawl. He looked like a mean, arrogant, selfish bully. He wasn’t. Throughout his driving career we all found that Jim was none of those things. He was the opposite. He was a race driver who was thoughtful of his fellow competitors at all times. Jim was a loving sharing man who was humble in his victories and gracious in his losses. His accomplishments on the racing tracks are long and many. Jim won track championships, countless feature victories, and established records that will stand for many seasons. His single most important achievement however, is the rapport that he had with his fellow man.”
His single most important achievement was the rapport he had with his fellow man.
Like most car lovers, my passion for cars was passed down to me from my dad. Going through family photos, I was amazed how we always had these awesome cars! My favorite was a white '57 Chevy convertible with red interior. I remember growing up helping dad wash and wax our vehicles. He was very particular. I never thought of it as a chore though because it was one of the things my dad and I did together.
One of my most cherished memories was purchasing my first car, a '56 Chevy. I think my dad was just as excited as I was. It barely ran, had cracked glass and was full of bondo but I loved that car.
Dad made a name for himself nationwide for being a Tri-5 collector/dealer. One year, everyone in my family was able to drive a car in our hometown parade. We had a '55, '56, two '57's, a'58 and '59. I drove the metallic burnt orange '56 that had a super-charger and tunnel ram. It was LOUD! and so fun to drive. That was definitely a special moment for me.
One year for Christmas, I made dad some business cards he could use to give to his prospective buyers or sellers. Dad was hard to please in the gift department and it really made me feel good when he said it was the best gift he received that year.
My dad passed away a year ago. He sold all his cars when he became ill. Some of our last moments together were spent browsing through his car catalogs looking for a car for me to buy with the money he just gifted to me. It breaks my heart that he passed before I was able to buy one. But buy one I will....someday.
I never thought of it as a chore, because it was one of the things my dad and I did together.
Since I was a boy, I've been involved in the Nebraska racing scene. From working on sprint cars with my father, and later helping manage Eagle Raceway and now working for Speedway Motors, the Nebraska racing community has provided entertainment and friendship that will be with me my whole life.
I met Tom Johnson after my family moved to our rural home north of Augusta, Kansas in 1972. He was big time into cars and being 6 years older than I, he taught me so much about cars. We traded, bought, and sold cars to each other, and through the years, we raced, and worked on cars together, he would always show me the right way to do things. We were like brothers, but most of all we were best friends, we watched each of our children grow into wonderful men and women. We street raced for many years through the 70's and 80's, I guess you could say we were the"Real" Street Outlaws before there were Street Outlaws on TV.
A random phone call on Easter Sunday 1987, put me in the seat of his 1970 Chevelle Enduro race car when his driver didn't show up. Having been a drag racer I knew nothing about dirt track racing, but my buddy Tom said, "I've ridden with you and seen you drive the back roads, you can do it." A few hours later I was getting paid for finishing 4th in my first 100 lap EnduroRace, that phone call started my dirt track racing career until my crash in 2001. After I moved to Nebraska in 2012, I always looked forward to getting back down to see him as often as I could. I lost my best friend on March 15th this year, and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him, and remember all the great times we had. I owe a lot of who I am today because of him, and there are not enough words in the world that can express how thankful I am to have had Tom in my life as long as I did. God Bless You Tom, I love you my Brother.
There are not enough words in the world that can express how thankful I am to have had Tom in my life as long as I did.
We weren’t aware of it right away, but we’ve come to understand that the Model A build helped George cope with loss. In the year following the death of his son, shop time became a valuable form of meditation. Focusing attention on the coupe helped him learn to manage his grief, and proved to be the therapy he needed during the roughest of times.
Throughout the build, many days and evenings were spent surrounded by friends and helpers. Ken was there from day one. A fan of Model A’s and an expert body man, Ken patiently worked alongside George on body work, prepped and then painted the car and frame. He tirelessly gave his time and energy to keep pushing towards progress and nudged styling directions including ride height, frame work, suspension type and paint color. They both enjoyed the shop banter and Ken became a rock that George could lean on and continues to depend upon.
George found joy in all the little successes and milestones that come along with building a car. It was a process. Just like effectively working through grief. The unrealistic expectations George had for this build, were much like the grief brought on by this tragedy. Hard to understand and easily misunderstood without the kindness of Ken's friendship.
Building the car was a process, just like effectively working through grief.
I am thankful that my dad taught me everything I know when it comes to cars, and to never doubt myself. I am thankful for my wife that always stands by my side no matter what the situation is. And my family for always supporting me no matter how crazy I may become.
In the world of sprint car racing, Brian Schnee is an icon and a legend. He has been someone I have been aware of for the majority of my life due to his car building reputation. I got to meet Brian for the first time in the winter of 2006 when I made a trip with my race car owner at the time to South Dakota to see Brian. He was going to build us a brand new race car that I was going to drive in the 2007 season. I remember Brian being a super fun guy and extremely welcoming when I had arrived. He clearly took the time to research a little about me and who I was because he seemed to know quite a bit about me when I showed up. He made it easy to have a conversation and was even able to tease me a little bit about my height because I hit my head in his doorway walking in. We still talk about this today! I remember being so impressed with Brian and in awe of what he and his wife built for a chassis company. They had a really nice shop and I didn't want to leave because of how awesome my first encounter with Brian was. Brian took the time to set me in the car he had already started, to make sure we got everything just perfect. He was focused on making sure I was going to be safe and have plenty of room in the cockpit given my size challenges. We got the most amazing customer service while we were there, and one of the nicest cars I had ever seen came out of that shop shortly after for me to compete with. I remember being so proud of that car, especially because of who built it. Going to Brian's shop that day gave me a newfound respect for the man because I had the opportunity to meet him and spend some time at his place of business. I remember thinking, "I can't wait to hang out with that guy again. He is awesome."
When he talks about the old days, you don't want those stories to end.
Fast forward to the present day and I can't help but feel privileged. I now get to work with Brian, and having him as a co-worker began in 2014 with my employment at EMi. Not only is Brian one of the most decorated car builders in the land, but he is a person who is extremely giving and full of life. Every day Brian shares his experience and memories with all of his teammates. Often times he brings pictures and every story he shares is captivating. When he talks about the old days, you don't want those stories to end. It is very clear how much he cares about what he does, and how motivated he is to ensure that we are stepping our game up here EMi. He coaches our younger staff members and makes sure everyone is putting out the best work they can do. It really is impressive seeing Brian do what he built his career around every day, and it has been more than an honor sharing a workplace with him. Aside from simply feeling privileged to work alongside him, I am most thankful for his friendship. Brian is a loveable, caring individual, and I will forever appreciate the many laughs and the lessons I have learned from him. So when asked, who moves me? Who am I thankful for? In the car world, it has to be none other than the icon, the legend, Mr. Brian Schnee!
My dad is the ultimate car guy. He builds them, he drives them, and his knowledge of cars and how they work will never cease to amaze me. My dad introduced me to this crazy car life at a very young age. I'll admit that growing up I didn't always appreciate going to car shows every summer with my mom and dad, listening to car talk or hanging out with my parents' old car friends. But now that I'm around this every day and have made a career out of it, I'm all in and I owe my dad 100%. I would rather spend a weekend (or a vacation) at a car show with my family and the friends that have become family than anything else. I have a son of my own now, and I will do all that I can to make sure he has the same appreciation for this industry that I have. I hope that the values and the interests that my dad has instilled in me can continue to live on for generations to come.
I'm thankful for my dad. I'm thankful for him for many reasons and getting me involved in this industry is just one of them. He has always given me the option to choose my own path, but now that I've chosen something so close to his heart he couldn't be more proud.
There are so many I’d like to thank for their hard work and dedication to our racing team. However, the one person who truly stands out is my dad. Starting off racing flat karts for a few years with my family was a great experience, but I wanted to do more. The day I decided to get behind the wheel of a big car was probably one of the happiest and scariest days of my dad’s life. At that point, he knew we had a long road ahead of us, but he was ready to tackle it at full force.
The past four years racing a Northern Sport Modified has truly brought us closer together.
It started off with a pile of spare parts on our garage floor and dad quizzing me on what each part was and what it did. The reason being, my dad wouldn’t let me control a machine that I knew nothing about. His lessons taught me to value and appreciate what I have and what I do. He had the patience to teach me how to weld, mount and dismount a tire, bleed brakes, swap 3rd members in a rearend and so much more.
I can count on my dad to be a shoulder to lean on, a teacher to learn from, and a best friend to live out my dreams with. Before every race, once I’m strapped into the car, dad gets down on a knee, holds my hand and we pray. My dad has taught me how to turn a wrench and given me the strength to hold my ground in a male-dominated sport. Once my helmet goes on, I’m no longer “Daddy’s little girl” I’m a crew chief’s shoe. I am a driver.
To the crew chief who will stand on a track on Sunday morning for 2 hours while we critique my line. To the mechanic that will turn an out-of-date chassis into a competitive racing machine. To my #1 fan who wears neon yellow, sporting a fluorescent orange bucket hat in turn 2 so I can see him. To the role model who never, ever gives up even when things get tough. To the motivator who pushes me to my limits because he believes in me. To the one who taught me how to turn a wrench.
To my dad, Doug Pfanstiel… Thank you.
Everyone at some point in time loses their motivation to continue on a project. I once had lost mine; even gave up completely on it. I had even listed it for sale but it was at that moment my wife stepped in and said, "I know that car means a lot to you and I know it takes a lot of money to do what you want, so let's come up with a plan." It was at that moment I knew she was right, so I pulled the listing and kept plugging away. I found as I would get new parts my motivation would come back to me, as I would want to install those new parts. She understood that even though I may not have had the time or the funds, that project meant a lot to me and she wouldn't let me quit on it. That is why I am very thankful for her.