Dan Frederickson has won races on the ASA Midwest Tour and in the now-defunct NASCAR Elite Series. But none of those victories meant any more to him than a Super Late Model show that he conquered last weekend at Elko Speedway (MN).
The race that Frederickson won, the Thunderstruck 93, wasn't just any Super Late Model feature though. It was a tribute race to Dan Ryan, who passed away in January of 2009 from ALS, also known a Lou Gehrig's disease. Ryan started racing in 1991, ran a family plumbing and heating business, was inducted into the Elko Hall of Fame and eventually hung up his helmet to help the racing careers of his sons Jake and Patrick (Dan, Jr.). He was also Dan Frderickson's friend.
“This might have not been my biggest win in everyone else's eyes,” said Frderickson. “But to me, it was the biggest race that I've won. Dan and I were friends. I worked on his racecars that Jake ran and we had a few successful years together. When he got sick, we spent a lot of time together. So this is a pretty big deal for me.”
It was a big enough deal in fact, that Frederickson had to wait out the whole summer to get to run the event.
“This race was supposed to take place in the early summer,” said Frderickson. “We were there for that and went out to set fast time and win the heat race. Then it rained. So all of the stress the was leading up to it, I got to do have over again. I knew that we would be good in the race, but I was still very nervous that something stupid would happen like it does in racing. All that I wanted was a good, clear race.”
Frderickson got his clear race and won the event over Nick Murgic, Jacob Goede, Billy Mohn and Dan's son, Jake Ryan.
“Jake raced and that was neat,” said Frderickson. “It was his first time back in a car after a four wheeler accident where he broke a few ribs and vertebrae. He was busted up pretty good, but he had a good finish.”
Jake wasn't the only member of the Ryan family at the event. In fact, the entire family joined Fredrickson in victory lane.
“His son Pay, daughter Allison and wife Lisa were all there,” said Frderickson. “It was sort of emotional after the race.”
In winning the race, Frderickson got to take home a specially designed guitar trophy. Ironically, it was a creation of Frderickson's sign shop, so it was something he really wanted to bring back home.
“We lettered the guitar at my sign shop,” explained Frderickson. “There was some agony in building something so cool and knowing that it might not come home with you. Thankfully, it did.”
In addition to inspiring Frederickson to win the Thunderstruck 93, Ryan also led for the ASA Midwest regular to become involved in raising awareness and funds to support those with ALS and to help find a cure for the debilitating disease.
“A group of family and friends have gotten together for ARaceWorthWinning.org,” said Frederickson. “That is where people can learn about ALS and help donate to the cause. We do a lot with that. It's become my cause of choice I guess you would sign. We donate and try to help out at the sign shop by doing stickers, banners and signs. It's a good cause.”