Tim Schendel is used to fast speeds.
His 2,900-pound car reaches speeds close to 200 mph and his career is also racing at a breakneck pace.
Schendel, who competes in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite, Midwest Series, is racing in this weekend's Cellular One 300 at Brainerd International Raceway.
The Sparta, Wis., native is third in the Midwest Series points standings, just 156 behind leader Justin Diercks. In 10 starts, Schendel has seven top five finishes and nine top 10 finishes.
In the past three years he's finished fourth, sixth and fifth in points and was named the 2000 Rookie of the Year.
The NASCAR Elite Touring Series is made up of four divisions -- Midwest, Southwest, Southeast and Northwest. All four series are stepping stones for future NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Trucks Series drivers.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
Look for Schendel to be driving on one of those circuits soon.
This year, Schendel filled in twice for drivers on the Craftsman Trucks Series, finishing 22nd at the Milwaukee Mile June 22 while just missing the cut at a race in Indianapolis Aug. 6.
"(Racing) is all I've ever wanted to do," Schendel said. "Luckily, I started racing at the local level and then got into a national touring series. It's always been my goal to race at the next level."
Schendel's passion for racing is really no surprise. His father Ron sold his road construction business and got into the racing business in 1990. But Tim's love of cars, driving and mechanics began well before then.
"Growing up as a little kid I was always around equipment," Schendel said. "Anything that had wheels and steel I liked. My grandpa had a farm so when I was little I was either sitting in a dump truck or sitting on a tractor and dreamed about driving it."
Tim Schendel profile
Hometown: Sparta, Wis.
Car: Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Sponsor: Mathews Solocam
Top achievement: 2000 Midwest Series Rookie of the Year
Quotable: "If you want to succeed in today's auto racing you have to be a well-rounded driver and run on many different tracks everywhere."
The 25-year-old Schendel worked on the pit crew for his dad's ASA race car and raced for the first time in a Late Model event in LaCrosse, Wis., when he turned 18.
In 1999, Schendel and his father built their first NASCAR car and raced in the Midwest Series for the first time. In 2000, Schendel raced full-time in the Midwest Series where he won Rookie of the Year honors.
Schendel does much of the work on his cars himself. He believes it gives him a chance to have a more intimate understanding of the car.
"The mechanical end of racing I really like because you try to outsmart someone else," said Schendel. "I'm really hands on. I've built two of the cars I have myself. That makes you a better driver because you know what makes them tick."
The only downside to racing on the Elite Touring Series is that TV exposure is almost non-existent. So drivers like Schendel, who have higher racing aspirations, have to make themselves noticed.
"When I first came into the series it was hard because nobody knew me," said Schendel. "It was hard gaining the respect of everybody. Once I won rookie of the year and started running up front, that's when you start to get noticed. We have great equipment and a really good crew."
This weekend his focus is squarely on winning at BIR. It's the first time in three years the Midwest Series has raced on a road course and only the second time for Schendel. He believes the smartest racer may be the one sitting in victory lane.
"The last time we ran a road course we just kind of survived it," Schendel said. "Here I want to be one of the front-running cars. I won't try to abuse the equipment. I'll just try to outsmart everyone else."
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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