Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 25, 2001

Not even a fire could stop Gueningsmans from pulling

By Patrice Waldron

Fire may have destroyed part of their shop, and some of their dreams, but that's not keeping Jeff or Kay Gueningsman from truck pulling competition.

Truck pulling has been their hobby since 1987.

"It's a hobby for us. We're not in it for the money," explained Jeff.

There have not been many injuries over the years. Truck pulling started as a way for Jeff to work with motors, but not have the speed of racing.

Speed is not a factor in pulling, so the risk of injury is greatly decreased.

Both Jeff and Kay have participated in the pulling events, having had success with Jeff's truck, "Aftershock," and Kay's pulling machine "Earthshaker."

Aftershock was built in 1997, but Kay's Earthshaker had been in the family since 1990.

After a fire in the Gueningsman Automotive Specialists shop May 20, Kay said that the worst part was losing her "babies," referring to the pulling trucks.

When asked about the decision to rebuilt the trucks, Jeff explained that it was a tough one to make.

"It was hard on Kay. I had to have the truck taken away because she couldn't stand to look at it," said Jeff.

"When we went to see what we could salvage, it turned out that three-quarters of the engine was salvageable," Jeff continued.

"It was the turning point to find out the heart and soul of the truck was still there," said Jeff.

The trucks that are used for pulling are customized for the task.

There is a lot of custom work, with many man hours invested in each truck. It is required that the frame be from the manufacturer, but most of the rest of it is custom.

"We make a lot of equipment as we go. It's not that complicated," stated Jeff.

Another decision they faced was if the truck is rebuilt, what name would it be called?

After much debate, it seemed the Earthshaker name would be carried on as "Earthshaker 2."

The person who does the custom paint work for the Gueningsmans is in the process of creating a distinctive logo for the new truck.

The truck pulling season starts in the spring and runs every weekend throughout the summer.

They normally attend pulling events in western Wisconsin during the early part of the season, before the sanctioned events start.

"The early pulls are a time to get the equipment ready and to try new things," said Jeff.

The trucks must be hauled to the event, because they do not have an exhaust system, bumpers, or lights.

Jeff and Kay have competed in the same division, pulling against each other. With trucks so similar, for comparison purposes, the process of elimination (how things were working), was speeded up, explained Jeff.

The shiny dark red truck in the Gueningsman shop, is under construction right now, but the talk was that the doors would soon be on, and much of the necessary work is underway.

Gueningsman Automotive Specialists will have a truck ready to pull at the Hollywood Ranch House event Friday and Saturday, June 29 and 30.

Their new truck may not end up in the winner's circle the first time out, but Jeff and Kay are bouncing back, and are showing that they are not out of things yet.


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