"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Heard the News today... oh boy...

Son of good friend

Former Racer Fritz Kling Diagnosed With Terminal Brain Cancer, Benefit Scheduled

A bank account (#4532119619 at Citizens Bank, 3015 East Saginaw Street, Lansing, Michigan 48912) and a Paypal account (fruitflies3@aol.com) have been set-up to receive donations to the Kling family.


First real memory of Fritz was mid 70’s, and visiting his Dad, Fred, at their place on Dawn Ave. in East Lansing. They had a nice shop, seems it was almost as big as the house and a bit of a hangout for motorcyclists.
Note that these were motocrossers and road racers, not “1 percenters”
Fred rode big Macao’s (Motocross) and Honda 750 Four (Road racing)

Well, here was young Fritz, about 5yrs old, on a Honda Q50 minibike
He’d hold the throttle wide open then jam it in gear, doing little wheelies.
I commented that he was likely to break the gearbox, to which he replied, “It’s OK, my Dad’s a mechanic.”

Note: maybe 20 years later, taking a friend to a local road race, Fritz was by now an established racer and I told my friend the story. Fritz was standing nearby, and said, “I still say that…”

So I watched this kid grow up, become an awesome racer, esp. considering his size; he must have been 6’4” and over 200 lbs… not a jockey.

I was never much into Motocross, don’t think I ever saw him race there.
But Fritz was a constant presence when we went road racing as GTRacing.
Endurance (everything from 3hour races to full 24hours), and some sprints too.

I recall as a growing teen, his mom Carol would pack two large Igloo coolers, one for Fred and me, one just for Fritz.

When I’d take my daughters to the races, and before Fritz was racing, he was enamored with the kids. He’s probably about 8 years older than my eldest.

I’ll have to fill in with some racing memories.

For now, here’s a vignette

Sometime early 90’s at Daytona
Watching from the infield, at our favorite spot inside the “hook”
We were there with Malcolm another racing buddy (rode Endurance races with Fred). During warm-ups he commented that Fritz wasn’t really going, that he could come through the hook a full gear up.
A bit later, it was the race (or maybe it was qualifying?) , and Fritz came through flying… Malcolm turned too me and simply said, “never mind”

During the era of the F-USA series, one where the rules were essentially “anything goes” and Fritz was riding what came to be know as the YamaMonster (need to check on size squeezed into a 750 frame I think).
Anyway, for a couple of years, Fritz’s record was 75% wins of the races he showed up for.

I recall that he had played Hockey, as did his dad.
This helped.
When riders tried to bump or move him around on the track, his combination of size and style he would simply look like … “bring it on” and bump and shove right back… well over 100 MPH.

Fritz was strong, one of those who could and did use his knee pucks
I recall him loosing the front end, putting weight on his knee and tucking the front back in.

Daytona, must have been ‘90
His wife Tina was VERY pregnant and back home.
Well, she made arrangements to fly down
I picked her up at the airport, and had her waiting at the motel when he got home from the races … he was near speechless.

Fritz was winning races, but would have recurring numbness and concentration problems
Doctors didn't have a good answer
Seems he finally got a scan... brain tumor
Well, he went and had the operation delayed, until he could go to the fall races at Daytona.
I seem to recall that in recovery, Doctor showed him the local paper with (very rare) sport section coverage of his win..."so this is why you put it off"

The above are memories, subject to error
Will post more later

Other's here: fritz kling benefit

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