(WFRV) – When it comes to racing, they say it’s not how you start it’s how you finish and for one local racer in Northeast Wisconsin there’s no finish line in sight after nearly 60-years on the track.
79-year-old Jerry Muenster, of Green Bay, has been racing cars locally since 1960. As Muenster is nearly one month shy of turning 80-years-old, there’s no sign of him stepping away from the pitts.
“I’m going to keep on going as I possibly can”, says Muenster.
Muenster’s love for the sport stemmed from going to the De Pere stock car races as a teenager with his friends. With the idea of becoming a racer in mind, Muenster and his buddies bought a race car for $200. After one of his buddies sustained in an injury, that wasn’t related to racing, it was Muenster’s turn to push the pedal to the medal. The rest? History.
“I won my first race I was ever in. I thought to myself ‘Gee, this isn’t hard!’. So I went out for the featured race and I wound up on a pile of dirt, sideways, backwards, and that’s when I found it wasn’t so easy”, Muenster jokes.
From 1960 to 2021, Muenster has competed in thousands of races throughout Northeast Wisconsin and the Midwest. He took third place in his most recent race out of 91 cars and a grand total of 300 laps. Muenster tells Local 5 that it’s the competitive drive within him that keeps him going.
“I don’t think I’m anywhere near as good as I used to be but I feel like I can still do it. I’m competitive, I’m not in anyones way out there, and I’m having the time of my life yet. So, that’s what keeps me going”, says Muenster.
Even though the competition gets younger, there’s no worries for a veteran like Muenster.
“Most of them are a third of my age. So, I got to keep up with those guys and they make it hard because the youngsters are really good these days. That keeps my drive going too. To try and keep up with them and try to win a few. We’re doing okay with it”, Muenster explains.
One thing that Muenster cherishes is the friendships he’s created because of racing. Some of his best times have come at the race track and it’s the camaraderie outside of the car that ties everything together. The fans that have come every weekend for the last 60 years to see Muenster compete is something special.
“The fans are pretty much everything”, says Muenster. “I get to talk to the little kids and sign their flags or hand out pictures of the race cars. That’s the fun part of it. That’s as much fun as the race actually.”
Racing and family go hand in hand for Muenster. He tells Local 5 that without his family, he couldn’t have raced this long. One of the coolest things for Muenster is how his passion for the sport has been passed down to different generations. His children and grandchildren are now racing competitively and he gets all the help he needs from them.
“I couldn’t do this without the families support”, says Muenster. “Without the support of my family, there’s no way I’d be racing still.”
One of the many accomplishments Muenster has achieved that sticks out to him is when he got inducted into the 2010 Shawano Racing Hall of Fame. That was a feel good accomplishment and an honor, he tells Local 5.
As Muenster looks back at his long tenured racing career, he’s learned a few things. He’s become more patient, supportive of other people, and appreciative of others.
Looking into the future, there’s no finish line for Muenster’s career anytime soon. As long as Mother Nature allows him to drive, he’ll be ready. As he’s nearly one month shy of 80-years-old, it’s time that went fast and he can’t believe how his racing career got to this point so quick.
“The older you get, the faster the time goes by. I just can’t believe it”, says Muenster.
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