Racers Talk About Those Who Have Influenced Their Careers

Tom Corcoran’s T1 Late Model (from his Facebook page)

The RaceChaser blog focuses this week on who was the biggest influence (or influences) for racers in the region. Some very interesting responses, and some drivers had several who’ve impacted their career.

Here are the drivers’ responses in their own words:

Tom Corcoran (#T1 Wissota Late Model, Grand Forks, N.D.)
“Coming from a large racing family the biggest influences in my career aren’t really surprising, my late father Red Corcoran, my late uncle Larry, Harold and on the promotion side my uncle Jim who ran many area tracks over the years. The biggest driver influence early on in my career was Duane Anderson the “Flying Swede” who was one of the smoothest racers I’ve ever seen.”

Andrew Jochim (#21 INEX Legends, Glyndon, Minn.)
My biggest influence in my racing career, was, and always will be my dad. He passed away in 2005 when I was 13, but I will cherish every moment we had at the track. I was very young when he raced, as well as doing derbies, but it will forever be something I remember. I will strive to be the same way with my children at the track as well.

Michelle Lund (#97 Short Tracker, Brandon, Minn.)
“One of my biggest influences is my dad, Larry Lund. Growing up I always watched him race and before I knew it I was racing. He has and continues to show me what racing is about.. Even on my bad nights he will still find the good in a race night.”

Kyle Dykhoff (#11 Wissota Street Stock, Starbuck, Minn.)
“My biggest influence in racing I would have to say is Ron Johnson (father of the 1JR). Ron was the one who lined me up with my first ever Pure Stock. And with hardly knowing the guy, he also built the motor for it, and helped every step of putting it together with out ever asking for anything in return. After a few years in the pure stocks, I bought my first street stock from Ron. From then on, It seemed like every week I was over at Ron’s shop and he was helping with everything from setup, to rebuilding motors, transmissions, fixing frames and body work and always teaching me something. But the biggest thing he taught me about racing was to keep it fun and always be willing to help others out. I don’t see Ron much anymore being Brainerd has switched to IMCA, but there’s not a doubt in my mind I wouldn’t have nearly as successful of a racing career if it wasn’t for him.”

Kyle Hallgren’s 701 IMCA Hobby Stock

Kyle Hallgren (#701, IMCA Hobby Stock, Hankinson, N.D.)
“The biggest influence in my racing career was the Sieg family. It all started out just helping John Sieg and John A. Sieg Sr. turning wrenches on a couple old north star hobby stock ford granadas! That’s when I became a life member of Hard Knox Motorsports. They let me tag around the garage and track until my 18th birthday when John said it’s your turn to drive. Boy was I hooked. I still represent Hard Knox on the visor of my cars as it’s a lifestyle per say. They taught me that you don’t need the big hauler or the fanciest chassis to compete and live your dream!”

Austin Hunter (#44 Wissota Midwest Modified, Winnipeg, Manitoba)
“I always looked up to my dad Jim Hunter for racing and he was so supportive and gave up racing to help me. Ricky Weiss helped get me into MWM. And introduced me to Dustin Strand. Bought my first and all my race cars from Dustin Strand. His guidance and support has been a big part of my racing. Ricky Weiss has always continued to guide me and offer help and advice. The two late model racers have been exceptional role models and support for me and I am very thankful.”

Andrea Kuechle and her father

Andrea Kuechle (#25 Outlaw Hobby Stock, Kimball, Minn.)
“The biggest influence in racing for me is my Dad. Growing up, he would take my brother and I to go watch his boss, Gene Dick, race at I-94 in Sauk Centre when it was asphalt. That was our first taste of racing. Today, I would not be able to do what I do without my Dad. He puts his blood, sweat and tears into our little operation. I can never thank him enough for helping me get to do what I love. He has always said he does it because he likes to see us having fun! That’s exactly what we are doing!”

Chase Boen (#48 Wissota Street Stock, Karlstad, Minn.)
“The greatest influence on my racing career was/still is my dad! My dad raced outlaw streets during the 90s and put racing in my blood. The past four years have created memories that no one can take from us! He is the hardest worker I know and I have always looked up to him!! He busts his tail off on my car and I cannot thank him enough!!”

Brandon Langer (#75 Wissota Super Stock, Alice, N.D.)
“Bill Wadeson. I grew up helping him back when he raced his outlaw street car and. still helping him now. When I race against him I push that much harder cause I want to beat him.”

Tyler Hall (#60 IMCA Modified, Fertile, Minn.)
“Blake Jegtvig, we are friends now but when I was young young he had the coolest cars in appearance and when I got to meet him he acknowledged me and later on he built me my first brand new Shaw car. He’s been a hero of mine forever all cause of his car and how he took the time to talk to a young kid at the races. Rick Jacobson was a favorite when I was growing up too and a very very very awesome guy to know.”

Erik Robertson (#9R Wissota Late Model, Casselton, N.D)
“Well where do I start — my Uncle Barry was always an influence on me good and bad. I spent a lot of time with my Grandpa Sam helping him do motor work for both my Dad and Uncle but the guy who has had the biggest influence and has helped me more than anyone is hands down no surprise it’s my dad, Kevin Robertson. I told him I wanted to start racing and he told me I needed to start building a car and make the jump on my own. I started building my first street car at Greg Hue’s shop. I brought the car home and told my dad I started this now let’s finish it. We finished my street car and built a new super stock for him that winter. He and I have worked and raced side by side ever since. We now both have late models And that was always a dream for both of us to run lates.”

Abby Gierke (#26 Wissota Midwest Modified, Westport, Minn.)
“My biggest influence in racing would have to be my dad! I have always remembered being at the track watching him race and helping him in the Race shop when I was very young. My dad influenced me to be a humble person and racer, to make sure everyone has help when it is needed. I can always remember my dad helping other racers at the track whether they were his friends or not. He also influenced me to be motivated, determined, and competitive on and off the track. He would always say, you can’t give up on racing just because of one bad night, you gotta keep going and have fun and the better night will come! My dad helped me every weekend at the track and helped me work on the cars, it was always so fun to spend time together doing something that we were so passionate about. He will always be my biggest influence in my racing career because of all the good examples he displayed on and off the track. Always having a good time no matter what, because how can Racing not be fun!”


Rick Schroeder (#7 Limited Late Model, Montevideo, Minn.)
“The biggest influence on my racing career has to be my parents. Ever since I can remember racing has been a major part of our lives. Racing is what we did as kids, we didn’t go on many traditional family vacations, we raced. As I’m sure with a lot of others, racing for me started with my dad. He raced modifieds for years at a bunch of different tracks. I can remember traveling to Jackson Mn in a single cab Ford pickup with 4 of us stuffed in there, hiding me under a blanket to sneak me in the pits and getting back home at 3-4 A.M. and then doing it again Saturday and Sunday’s too. Without the knowledge and backing of my parents there is no way I would be doing what I love on the weekends. I’ve learned through the years it’s not in the budget to buy a turnkey car, you build it. All the way from every motor I’ve ever raced to rearends, trannys, everything is built, pieced together and fixed in house. My dad may have a major roll in my racing but my mom is the one who keeps this team pushing forward, honestly without her we would of prolly said screw it and sold everything years ago. Besides, she holds the keys to the checkbook and takes care of all the books for our racing so as long as she wants to keep racing, we race!”

Neil Walton (#17X Mini Stock, Englevale, N.D.)
“I loved watching Steve Froemke and Steve Hanson duke it out as a child. I always dreamed of driving when I was a child, and watched Duffy Froemke’s first race with duct tape numbers. I would say the whole Froemke family are who I look up to still today. Today I mostly look up to the young guns like Jonny Carter and Jessie Skalicky. Both those young men are incredible wheel men who care about the sport, and would do anything to help someone be a better driver. Randy Klein is exactly the same way, but not a young man lol.”

Tyler Peterson (#1TPO IMCA/Wissota Modified, Hickson, N.D.)
“Corky Thomas and my father. I grew up watching Corky race my dads super stock and learned every bit of what I know from him. They had a lot of success over the years and having someone like Corky to mentor me had a lot to do with the success we have now days. I can’t thank those two enough for everything they’ve done to further my racing career.”

Ron Olafson (#76 Wissota Street Stock, Grand Forks, N.D.)
“My most enjoyable time in this sport was being a part of the John Seitz racing team in the early super stock years and some of late model time. We built his first super in my shop — it was a old Bullett Aukland car he had bought from Gordie Lancaster. We built it at my place so his mom and wife wouldn’t find out. When we started I was the one who had the knowledge and experience by the time he passed he was my inspiration. He was my best friend and the best I ever helped in this sport. I still drive a little in the Wissota street stocks but I am proud that I can say John was my friend and inspiration.”

Austin Lammers (#33 Short Tracker, Pelican Rapids, Minn.)
“My biggest influence into racing came from Parker Bilden, when I was a senior in high school he had a short tracker race car and we constantly were talking about racing, the next summer I started pitting for him and his brother and by the end of the year he gave me the chance to drive his car a few times at practice and I ran some heat races. 2 summers later he had talked me into getting a car, that first summer his parents let me keep my car in there shop to work on it, Parker worked nights at that time so he took a year off from racing but he would still work on my car for me during the day and I would go there and work on it at night. Without him pushing me and with out all the help of Parker and his whole family i would have never been lucky enough to get into this addiction.”

Kasey Ussatis (#2U Wissota Street Stock, Nome, N.D.)
“I have a few influences in my racing career. I did not have any family members that raced. My dad would take me to the races in Lisbon or any of the area tracks when he was not working on the railroad. I was influenced by watching the racers race every week. I had heroes going up like Todd Carter, Duffy Froemke, and Jerry Lamb. I been lucky to say i got a chance to race with them. Even though they might wish I was still in the stands haha. Also got the race with a lot of cool people in the pure stocks. I grew up watching Claire Miller and got to race with him in that class. He has helped me a lot over the years. One other Pure Stock driver I was honored to share the track with was Leann Christensen. How cool is it that I get to say I raced with the very first female racer in ND. My favorite second place finishes was to her. When I was old enough I was able to help/pit with the Robertsons. I learned a lot from Kevin and Erik. They still help me whenever I need. There are a lot of influences in my racing career I just have no time to list them all. I would say my biggest influence was my grandpa. He would call about every Sunday around 3pm. I would make sure I was by the house to pick up the phone because I didn’t want to miss it. He would ask if I wanted to go watch the races in Lisbon but I think he knew what my answer would be every time. I really enjoyed all the people I have met and the friends I have gained because of racing.”

Alyssa White (#14 IMCA Hobby Stock, Fargo, N.D.)
“My parents, Jim and Gina White are definitely my biggest influences in racing as my mom raced for 12 years and never finished any worse than third, with one points championship, and my dad raced for 20 years, never finishing any worse than fifth with one points championship as well. My cousin Jesse Aho, a 5-time Wissota Midwest Modified track champion at Eagle River Speedway in Eagle River, WI, has also been a huge influence in my racing career.”

Justin Vogel (#10 Wissota Street Stock, Brooten, Minn.)
“I don’t really have one driver in particular that influenced me but there are a few that stand out. Jeff Hinkemeyer was a good influence on making sure I involve the fans as much as possible! Gary Reents taught me how to have patience and that it doesn’t do any good to go yell at someone for doing something dumb on the track ( I have a hard time with this sometimes) and Gary also taught me this phrase “drive it in until you see god and then turn” I’ve used that phrase for many new drivers!!! Scott horn is another one he taught me that you need to earn respect on the track so you don’t get shoved around for example when I was a rookie Scott wasn’t afraid to move me out of the way until one heat race I had enough I rubbed tires with Scott the whole race and we have been best friends ever since!! The next driver that sticks out is Cory Tammen, Cory thought me to search the track for a line that no one else is running and to never give up just keep trying until you find something! These are some but certainly not all the drivers that have shaped me into the driver I am today!!!”

Luke Lick (#5L, Wissota Modified, Rosholt, S.D.)
“The most influential people in my racing career have been my grandpa and the fans. My grandpa got me started in racing by taking me all the time in the summer and I decided I wanted to do it one day. He has been probably my biggest supporter since I’ve started besides my parents. And the fans are the reason we keep going through the hard times.”

Jay Schlotfeldt (#20J Wissota Street Stock, Jamestown, ND.)
“My biggest influence would have to be my uncle Bob. He was racing in Lisbon when I was a kid. I’ve been hooked ever since. Billie Christ also helped me get into racing by selling me my first race car.”

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