ASA Crew Member Moves West To Chase Dream
One man can tell you exactly how that feels.  Meet Nate Thiesse.

"I was introduced to this NASCAR Southwest Series team owner while racing up in Minnesota one weekend by some mutual friends," said Thiesse, who has spent several years with LaFavre Racing and Country Joe Racing.  "The team owner, Mark Golembeski, told me they were looking for a new driver because their driver was moving up to Winston West.  He asked if I would be interested.  I said positively, it has always been my dream to drive in a touring series like that.  I told him the late model at Sauk Center was all I could afford with the sponsorship and help from everyone.

"Basically, I gave it some thought, but I really figured it was just a question in passing.  I never really heard back from him in a while.  We had done a lot of talking in the past months.  I had
Sometimes things just sound too good to be true.  When you are a part-time race car driver and full-time race team member and someone offers you a full-time ride in their equipment, normally you think they are just talking in passing and nothing will ever come of it.
done a lot of talking with him, but it was rather unserious.  I figured we would just work on doing some races here and there because I knew that is all I could do while working with an ASA team.

"Then Mark called me and asked if I was serious about coming out there and I told him yeah.  He wanted me to come out and drive and wanted to know what he had to do to get it done, so we met on some terms and conditions and before I knew it I was flying out there looking at his shop and equipment."

It will be a little weird to stroll down the ASA pit road in 2003 and not see Thiesse working hard with his team or joking around with his teammates, but that is exactly what will happen this year.
"Everyone is really excited for me, everyone from Joe Miller (Country Joe Racing Team Owner), who says follow your dream, to Kevin Cywinski, who worries about it being good equipment.  Everyone, though, from Mike Resop to Bondo (Bond Suss) has been real excited for me.  There have been no negative feelings from anyone.  It has been a mad thrash to take everything I do here and spread it among everyone else, so nothing gets left behind.  But I told Kevin he has everything that he needs to be a champion.  I am really going to miss everyone here and everyone with ASA."

Thiesse has been very close with Cywinski over the last few years.  Because of that, Cywinski was the first person Thiesse went to when the opportunity first arose.
"I came back and told Kevin I wanted to bump something off of him.  Kevin is like the first person I go to when I have a question or a problem.  Not only is he the driver here, but he has become a good friend.  I told Kevin I had this opportunity to drive and he wanted to make sure it was good equipment and a good situation.  He wasn't saying anything bad; he was just looking out for Nate Thiesse.  He said to make sure I was getting into good stuff.  I appreciate that."

It was only three weeks ago when the call came to Thiesse to see if he was still interested.  In that short time, Thiesse has visited the team's shop in California to get the ball rolling.  And over the next few weeks, the ball will be rolling fast for Thiesse, who has to prepare for the series' first race on February 2nd at Phoenix International Speedway.
"Friday is my last official day in the shop here, and then I will look into flying out to California to prepare for the race in Phoenix.  I also have to wait for NASCAR to give me the clearance to race at Phoenix.  But I will fly out there in anticipation of racing. 

"It is going to be different, but I can say being in a professional series like ASA prepares me well.  Now I just have to prepare as a driver and get used to the new tracks and all.  It will be different to be the full-time driver now.  My gut feeling said it was a good deal and I still believe it will be."
The team is well prepared, with a fully- functional shop, four cars, three engines and a very experienced crew chief.

"The first races we are going to have to try to work together and learn quickly.  I need to get used to the cars.  It will be my first time to work with the crew chief as a driver.  There will be a lot of firsts.

"I went out there and observed and hung out with them at the last Phoenix race.  I really enjoyed it.  I think they got a great bunch of guys there and were able to have a good time with everyone.  I was able to interact with everyone well.  They are based out of California, which seems like a million miles away, but it felt really comfortable for me." 

It is far away from home for the Minnesota native.  Thiesse admits that it will be a shock to move to California, but will be much easier since he has the support of his fiancée, Rebecca Gould.
Thiesse is set to live his dream of racing.
"Rebecca is excited about it.  She knows as well as anyone that this is my dream to race in a touring series and she is excited for me.  The hardest thing will be moving away from my family and the farm here and her family in Michigan.  We know that we will have to make a lot of time to come back and visit families.  We are young and excited about the adventure. 

"It will be different than having my car barely start in the morning and wearing a t-shirt.  I actually like the cold and I know when I get out there that I will miss it.  The cold builds character."
It will really be an experience for Thiesse, who will have some interesting tracks to learn out west, including the road course in Sonoma.

But asked if Thiesse will come back to ASA to visit his friends and keep in touch with all the news and happenings, he replied in typical Nate Thiesse fashion, "10-4."
Thiesse says the hardest part is being away from his family.