Two Waterloo brothers are on separate support teams that keep NASCAR stock cars rolling, though one works with wrenches while the other’s a computer whiz. 27-year-old Matt Aschbrenner changes tires during super-fast pit stops on the number-five Busch series car and says he’s at home in the garage. “I like being a mechanic. I like being a grunt, down there in the oil and all that dirt and grime.” He says if you get too excited during a pit stop, you’ll screw up, so he says the motto is “slow is fast” in the pits. He says he’ll take a fraction of a second after he goes over the wall to pause before aiming and hitting the lug nuts to get the wheel off. Matt’s 24-year-old brother, Chris, is a “behind the scenes guy” who runs vital computer systems for several race teams. Chris Aschbrenner sets up communications for four Winston Cup cars, numbers 5, 24, 25 and 48, allowing all engineers and drivers to communicate, in addition to a wireless network to access weather information and a database back in Charlotte, North Carolina. Chris, a 2001 University of Northern Iowa grad, says he loves his job but longs for Iowa cornfields as they’re at the track 40 Sundays a year. Chris says he misses his weekends, mowing lawns and doing housework, which he admits is “kinda’ crazy.” Several other Iowans are on NASCAR crews, including Skippy Johnson of Keokuk, who’s a tire specialist for the number-ten Winston Cup car. Johnson says he’s “living the dream” though he sees his Iowa family members only on occasion and usually on race days. Scott Geerts of New Hampton is a mechanic on the number-20 Winston Cup car and during pit stops, he cleans the windshield and gives the driver a quick drink. Geerts says it takes a lot of dedication and motivation to live the fast-paced life on the NASCAR circuit. Geerts says they get done around Thanksgiving time, get a little time off, work in the shop and start testing new cars right after the first of the year. Geerts’ wife, Kim, and 20-month-old son are in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, where he hopes to set up a shop of his own someday.
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