Gary Gengel of Eden Prairie may be one of the few lawyers in the state who has a grip exerciser on his desk.
On Mondays he's too tired to grip the exerciser after he has finished two intense days hanging onto the handlebars of his Arctic Cat Sno Pro 440 snowmobile and pinning its throttle over jumps in the Pro Veteran's class at a World Snowmobile Association-sanctioned event.
"When I walk in the office, (my coworkers) think I'm nuts (for racing)," said the 41-year-old Gengel.
It wouldn't take a rocket scientist to observe that Gengel has been racing. He said he is usually limping on Mondays.
"Most of the times my knees hurt like crazy," he said.
During the week, Gengel is an environmental attorney specializing in environmental law. His clients include Potlatch, 3M and the University of Minnesota.
He is one of the snocross racers who will be competing in 13th annual International Race of Champions Snocross at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday. The event is the second round of WSA's Minnesota Regional Snocross Championship.
Gengel began racing snowmobiles three years ago at an International Series of Champions event at Detroit Lakes.
"I decided, what the heck, I'll try racing," said Gengel, who still rides his motocross motorcycle once a week during the summer.
In 1999 he won the Legends class in the International 500 race which started at Warroad.
"That really sucked me into (racing) more and more," he said.
Last year also was when Gengel began focusing on snocross racing. He said the reason was lack of snow.
He raced in all of the WSA national events except the ones in the eastern United States and he competed in several WSA regional events. He won the Pro Veterans points title and placed second in the Semi-Pro Fan class in the MRSC last season.
At Brainerd's MRSC event in February he finished second in the Pro Veteran's feature. Two years ago at Brainerd he won the Pro Veteran's feature. So far this season his best finish was fifth at WSA's national opener at Spirit Mountain in Duluth.
Racing or snowmobiling is nothing new to this father of three children. He was 10 wen his father bought him a snowmobile.
"I've always been attracted to the mechanical kind of stuff," Gengel said.
But it wasn't only snowmobiles that attracted Gengel. He also took up motocross racing and raced professionally in 1978 and 1979.
Two years later, he graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter with a four-year degree in economics and political science with a minor in computer science.
It took him just three years to obtain a master's degree in business and finance and law degree from the University of Minnesota. He said he studied concurrently to graduate that early.
As far as comparing racing to practicing law, Gengel said both require a competitive spirit and intelligence.
"If you do something different on that track you're going to crash," he said. "As a lawyer you also can see clients and other folks heading for a train wreck."
Another similarity between these two activities is travel. The next WSA national event after Brainerd is in Gaylord, Mich., on Dec. 16-17.
Gengel said after Brainerd's race he will work in his office on Monday, spend Tuesday and Wednesday in Texas, work in his office on Thursday and travel to Michigan on Friday.
"Mondays are tough," he said. "I get home on Sunday night, put the kids to bed and get up at 5:30 in the morning."
But as he said, "It keeps life interesting."
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