Rev Norman Heironimus and Race Cars

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Rev Norman Heironimus and Race Cars - Manof the Cloth Wears Asbestos Suit,...
Manof the Cloth Wears Asbestos Suit, CrashHelmet ByPAMZUBECK Staff Writer DEERFIELD—When you think of a pastor haying a hobby, something like fishing, painting, writing or gardening may spring to mind. But the Rev. Norman Heironimus chooses a more thrilling way to spend his extra time in the spring and summer months. Strapped into a gutted interior with gages of various types before him, Heironimus sports an asbestos suit and crash helmet as he whizzes 110 mph around a dirt track in a late model modified race car. The 44-year-old minister started driving in local races last summer after a 15-year absence absence from the speed sport. To start at the beginning, Heironimus was your typical 1950's greaser. He started racing stock cars on weekends as a high schooler in 1951 in arid around his hometown of St. Louis, Mo. The first one he drove was a 1938 Ford with a regular V-8 engine. "In those days, we built them, ran them and eventually I even owned my own," he said. "•The Lord is first in my life, my family runs a dost* second, and if racing fit* in there someplace, that's fine—hut only if it fits in." "When I say I built a car, I mean 1 actually built the whole thing. I started off with two saw horses and two frame rails." Heironimus built his own engines, too, from parts he got from dealers and speed shops. In 1958, he put together his first super- modified, "an all-out race car with lots of horsepower." But perhaps driving is the provocative part of the racing scene, and Heironimus was good. "Back when I ran super-modifieds, I won a lot of races and was considered a good driver,"he said, modestly adding, "anyway that's what people said." As with any sport, the participant occasionally occasionally takes some hard knocks. Indeed, in racing the spin-outs, crack-ups and crashes are common, and Heironimus didn't escape such incidents. He was hospitalized twice from racing mishaps, once when he was knocked out and his arm rested perilously on a sizzling exhaust pipe. His racing escapades include a crash over the track wall through a telephone pole and down a 30-foot slope, and another time when his car went end-over-end four times before landing upright. Both times the driver walked away without major injury. "It was all like 'American Graffiti.' I was probably a typical kid in the 50's, like 'Happy Days' and that sort of thing," the pastor • admits. And then, in 1958... "The Lord moved in my life," Heironimus said. And by 1959 the life-long church member decided to go into the ministry at age 25. Four years later, he stopped racing. Graduating from Concordia Seminary at Springfield, 111., in 1966, the minister and his family moved to Kansas the same year. Heironimus became pastor for Deerfield's Immanuel Lutheran Church and the Grace Lutheran Church at Ulysses. "The Lord is first in my life, my family runs a close second, and if racing fits in there someplace, that's fine—but only if it fits in." Apparently, racing didn't fit in, and Heironimus went 15 years without being directly involved with the sport, although he still subscribed to car magazines. "It's like a lot of things, it so-called gets in your blood," he said, aware of the cliche. "Even all down through the years, just seeing a race car being pulled on a trailer would excite me." < But although he always assumed he'd never race again, Heironimus said down deep he wished for the opportunity to arise sometime. He got his wish last summer. Vic and Millie Barbo's son Victor, who's an avid racing fan, was in Heironimus' confirmation confirmation class at the Ulysses church. The pastor made an off-hand remark about racing. That was enough. "Mrs. Barbo said Victor came home saying, "Daddy, I know someone to drive your race car." The Barbos have always been interested in racing, but last summer was the first time Barbo Well Service, Inc. owned and raced a car. The 355-cubic-inch Chevy engine Camero was bought in Golden, Colo., and put on the track at Dodge City where Heironimus'drove on Saturday nights. ''"After 15 years I didn't hnoir what it would be like. A lot of memories can get glorified in your mind." The car, along with its driver and pit crew, also raced twice at the Ulysses track and the state fair. "After 15 years I didn't know what it would belike," Heironimus said. "A lot of memories can get glorified in your mind." But he said with only a few practice laps to rekindle his driving knowledge, it was off to the races. "We managed to win some (races), and by the end of the season, I was running up front," he said, adding that this year the Barbos and he plan to race again—this time with a "better built car" bought in Woodward, Okla. Heironimus' philosophy about racing is simple: "It takes a good car and a good driver to win." And, "you go as fast as you can all the time." "He's a good driver, and a highly respected driver," Millie Barbo said, noting that even through mechanical troubles, Heironimus maintained an undaunted attitude. At the end of the season last year, Mrs. Barbo said, Heironimus received an award, which was originally tagged most improved driver, because "he hung in there." "I'm not sure what it was for exactly," Heironimus quipped, "except I was glad to getit." STRAPPED IN and ready to roll is Rev. Norman Heironimus, who drives the Camero racer for Barbo Well Service, Inc. of Ulysses. AN ADDED benefit from Ms racing past Is mechanical ability. Heironimus responsible for all the engine work that's kept his 1968 Ford, with 134,000 running. HamZubcck

Clipped from Garden City Telegram27 Feb 1979, TuePage 5

Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kansas)27 Feb 1979, TuePage 5
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  • Rev Norman Heironimus and Race Cars

    lghutchinson – 28 Dec 2013

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