I have a hard time thinking about this world without Jack [Mader] in it. Thank God for the wonderful memories and stories that will live on forever.
Jack was the best at whatever he did and my time with him was so terrific. I first met Jack when he worked for Prostrollo Chev. in the early '60s, and we became fast friends. Jack was so clever and so talented with a wrench. There was nothing he could not do and at that time I think he was only 25 years old. I was 20 and blessed with the opportunity to work side by side with him.
I learned so much that 1st year and the year to follow. I think it was year two when it was decided we would go racing together. I had already had a little experience in the old number 11 car, 1937 Ford coupe, and was itching to go faster. Guess who knew how to do that? Jack, of course!
The first car he built, 99, did just that. I think we won our first race and several thereafter. I had very little to do with those wins. It was all Jack that made it happen. I just held on and pressed on the gas. Jack could tell from the sidelines that something needed adjusting. He would do it when there was a crash and he would have a little time to change something. When back on the track, it was a whole new car and we were able to stack up some wins.
As mentioned, it was Jack that made these cars go fast. He either knew the combination of things from the beginning or he figured it out in short order. Each motor he built seemed to make the car go faster. Each car he built was better and better. He always knew what needed to be done to win and that is what the car did.
I don't think I am alone in my thinking that when the car did not win, it was rarely the car's fault. It was the driver and the driver always felt bad if that happened. I know I did.
I moved to Minneapolis in 1967 and Jack continued racing with Roger Larson and others for a while. Then out of the blue I got a phone call from Jack and he asked me if I wanted to fly back and race Sunday nights at Husets (Speedway in Sioux Falls). I absolutely did back flips. I was so excited that he called since I had missed being around Jack and his beautiful fast cars.
We did good that year, 1972, when the car finished 2nd in the point standings. I felt bad we didn't win high points. As I mentioned before, Jack built first-place cars and I wish I could have given him a top point year. We did win the State Fair and Governor's Trophy that year.
I recall the same car did take the top point season win at Jackson, Minn., that same year with Bill Mellenberndt driving and Mader working his magic.
Whenever Jack would pick me up at the airport and we were headed to the racetrack, it was a special time for me. The drive to Brandon would give us time to talk about families and kids, whom he loved. At the racetrack, it was mostly all business, but we took time to eat peanuts in the shell, which he also loved. He always thought they brought us good luck. Then after the races, it would be a burger and beer somewhere before he would drop me at the airport.
It was just a few years ago when I turned 72 that I sent a note to Jack saying, "Let's make a comeback." In true Jack Mader style, he returned a note saying, "I'll start looking for a car."
It didn't happen, as he must have known at our ages it wasn't a good idea, but I know it would have been a good one. He never did anything half-assed. Only fast!
I will always cherish those days and miss my friend Jack Mader. May God bless Jack, and love to his family.
Minneapolis, Dec. 31