© 2000 DWIGHT DRUM
A SPORTSMAN MOMENT WITH…
Donnie Durenberger's home base is in the metropolis of Minneapolis, Minnesota. I'm familiar with that clean city as a former girlfriend, a teacher in St.Paul, hosted an extensive driving tour for me all around the twin cities. We also spent a few spring days in Duluth…Brrrr. I can see why Donnie is so enthusiastic about the summer sport of racing motorcycles. Drag Racing is reserved for warm days and dry tracks, and racing sanctions like the NHRA plan their events with special consideration for weather. Donnie would like to see Federal-Mogul include Pro Sportsman Motorcycle at the division level in all seven of the NHRA Divisions. I'm sure he has to dream of this all winter, but when spring arrives and summer heats up, he warms up his engine and runs. I sent Donnie my questions in early fall, follow what he had to say… before the snow flies.
Story by Dwight Drum. HTML and Photo enhancement by Gary Larsen
DONNIE CYBERCHATS WITH DWIGHT:
BIRTH TOWN : Rochester MN
HOME TOWN: Minneapolis MN
Do you have a nickname?
"No. Sometimes I hear one I like, but they don't stick too long."
Who would you most like to be like?
"I would like to be as smart as Warren Johnson, dominate like Rick Santos, keep the
longevity of John Force, contribute like Byron Hines, have a little of Billy
Vose's ego, look like Brad Pitt, and have a wallet like Bill Gates."
Who are your heroes?
"Thomas Edison, Daniel Boone, W.J"
What are (or have been) your scariest moments?
"When my daughter Elisabeth was born, there was a problem during delivery.
The nerves in the shoulder had been torn and she was unable to move her arm,
it was possible that it would be a permanent disability. Luckily, it healed
after a few days but the thought of her being hurt forever was the worst."
Do you work out?
"Yes. I think there is a definite link between being physically and mentally
fit. When I let it slide for awhile, I can tell the other one suffers from
Do you have a special diet?
"I eat practically anything that's free. Other than that I am very
mid-western in my food choices, and nothing very spicy. Chicken, a baked
potato and salad is a nice meal."
What mental routine prepares you for each run?
"Since I dial-in when I race, I try to make sure I haven't left something
out when picking a dial or a delay box setting. I don't agree with the
philosophy of not paying attention to who is in the other lane, so I think
about that too. When it comes time to go to the burn-out-box I focus on
doing things exactly the same, and keeping it simple."
Do you have other hobbies?
"I played Broomball for fifteen years. It is a lot like Ice Hockey, but a plastic
"broom" is used to hit a ball into a much larger size goal. It is a cross
between Hockey and Soccer. Our team won a few Minnesota State Tournaments
and a National title in 1996. Some of the guys would play seriously enough
to go as far as Sweden to compete in Tournaments, but I was just a winter
Now that my kids are getting old enough to participate in organized sports
and things, my hobbies will more likely involve spectating".
What do you do to unwind?
"What is that?"
What personal quality (one trait) would you want to be admired for the most?
"That I would help anyone that needed it. I would like to be seen as someone
who has tried to give back to the racing community a little of what I have
gotten from it."
What's most important?
1.Fame 2.Money 3.Thrill/fun 4.Winning 5.Other
"If this question is strictly based on Drag Racing, I have to say winning.
For other part of my life I would pick other, and say Health."
Are you happy?
What could make you happier?
"More time and money. Being hired to drive or ride for someone else. Knowing
I can get my kids through collage."
If you could change one thing about motorcycle drag racing, what would it
"On the positive side, there are so many things I like about where we are
now, we have really come along way. I remember when about the only
aftermarket race part you could get was a Vance & Hines exhaust pipe. Now
you can completely build a fast and reliable drag bike over the Internet in
no time at all. Everything looks and works great right out of the box, it is
amazing. At many races we run in Super Pro with the cars and Dragsters and
that has let us run for big money every race, and be better racers because
of the level of competition.
What I would like to see in the future is Federal-Mogul include Pro
Sportsman Motorcycle at the division level in all 7 of the NHRA Divisions.
The exposure for the class, as well as the semi professional feel of the
events would be beneficial to NHRA, Federal-Mogul and the Drag Racing
Many people answer this by saying "more TV exposure" and I somewhat agree.
Somehow Drag Racing does not come across on TV well but I would imagine if
the NHRA or anyone figure out how to make it work better than it does now,
we will all benefit. I say the sanctioning bodies should promote the
personalities and rivalries in the sport, let people get familiar with the
drivers so they get connected and have someone to root for. It has worked
with Angelle Seeling and Matt Hines."
When driving a car, do you always wear a seatbelt?
1. Yes. 2. No. 3. Sometimes
"No, but I am the hypocrite as I make my kids wear theirs"
What does your fastest speed on a motorcycle feel like?
"I love the speed on a bike. I raced a Camaro before switching to
motorcycles, and the car thing doesn't even compare. "
Where do you find the most peace in your life?
"In the garage when it is finally clean, in the kids room when they are
lying in bed talking, at the racetrack early in the morning. Seeing my kids
have fun or learning something new."
Other than racing do you have a full-time occupation?
"I work in the Engineering department at Tennant Co. in Minneapolis MN. I am
in new product design, working on a Cadd/Cam station designing our new
machines in a team setting. Tennant manufactures floor maintenance
equipment, mostly sweepers and scrubbers for industrial applications. In
2000 I will have been there fifteen years."
You're a skilled racer… What skills separate you from the fast traffic on
"I'm an becoming an expert at multi-tasking. It used to be I couldn't get
somewhere fast enough. Now I use all of the time commuting to get other
things done and not let the traffic bother me. Planning, thinking, reading
and taking notes, making time go quickly. In Minnesota we have ramp meters
to regulate traffic flow on the highways, so sitting there used to be a big
waste of time. Now I have a small practice tree and use it every day as I
wait for my turn to go."
What got you started in Motorcycle drag racing?
"In 1984 I saw John Noard on his Funny Bike, and that got me started with
motorcycles. After that, becoming friends with Mike Voss and PSB rider John
Smith. In the mid 80's, Voss had a motorhome and took as many of us to races
as wanted to go. Once we had nine Drag Bikes on a trip, it was always a "more-
the-merrier" kind of thing. When John Smith won the NHRA Division 5 ET
Finals in 1986, and Voss in 1987, I knew I really wanted to do something
like that myself someday. Thanks to both of them and others, I have.
What do you worry about the most?
"Not getting things done or missing something really obvious."
Is your career path a chosen road to the professional level?
"Yes. I love my job and what I do, but I would really like to take the risk,
and work on some of the other ideas I have. Designing and manufacturing some
of the drag racing related products I have partially done in my head would
be something I would like to try. I was awarded two US Patents in 2000 for
sweeping related inventions at Tennant, however coming up with some
successful race related products would be very fulfilling."
Gary's question: How do you find the cash to race?
"I have great partnerships with my sponsors. All of the relationships have
been long and successful for both parties. I take representing my sponsor's
interests very seriously, because on my own I would not be racing at the
level I have been the last few years. I really enjoy learning about
marketing and promotion, and hopefully that area of Team One Racing will
continue to evolve."
What would you do differently if you had a deep pocket sponsor?
I would step the whole program up for more visibility and exposure. My web
site always needs changing so I could put some of the support in that area.
I would love to have a brand new bike, two motors in the trailer, and a
motorhome to travel to all of the races in. A two bike team would be another
thing that would take it all to another level. Filling out my NHRA
Divisional schedule, adding more Prostar races and, traveling further would
be on the wish list. Since I go to NHRA Divisionals and love Super Gas
racing, running my bike along with a Super Gas car would be about as good as
racing could get.
I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to answer these questions,
and focus on an NHRA Sportsman Drag Racer. I want to invite those who live
in the areas that do have the Pro Sportsman Motorcycle class at the NHRA
Federal-Mogul events to either come out and compete, or come out and
Team 1 One Racing
We're proud to bring the words of this dedicated Sportsman racer. Many Sportsmen race for the gusto often on the seat of their empty pockets, and Donnie Durenberger is privileged to have sponsor assistance. Like many Sportsmen, and like most drag racers he has the confidence and humility to be competitive on a fast track. We wish Donnie good and safe speed, and know he has earned the descriptive word for Sportsman around the world…Donnie Durenberger is….