way of life
lead Sunday, April 24th
Story by: Dave Kallmann of the Journal Sentinel
April 24, 2016
The boys in the family don't decide to race. It just happens; it's what they do.
For a male born into the Prunty clan, to not race would require a conscious choie.
"We have pictures all the way back to when I was 3, pop-riveting on bodies with Dad," said Alex Prunty, a third-generation driver from Lomira.
"(Uncle) David would make me take all the tires...he'd have; five, six, seven, eight sets of tires laid out on the concrete, have me wash all the wheels, put air in the tires and go measure them. I was 6 maybe, 5-6"
Together, Alex, his father, Dan, and three of Dan's brothers have amassed 12 track championships at Slinger Speedway and two titles in the Slinger Nationals, a summertime special event of national acclaim.
"It's just a way of life for us," said Dennis Prunty, a three-time Slinger champ who won the Miller Lite Spring Opener on a cool afternoon Sunday.
Alex, 23, will be the one Prunty with a chance to add the family name to the Slinger record book again - the only member scheduled to compete every week - and he'll be the first to tell you he faces long odds.
A champion in the Slinger Bees beginner division (2010) and limited late models ('12 and '15), Alex made his debut in the track's premier super-late model class Sunday. He qualified sixth-fastest on the quick quarter-mile, won his heat race from the pole and finished eighth in the longest feature he had ever run.
"That was fun," he sad afterward, happy to have gained the experience without hurting his car.
"If we'd have won the feature, that would have been huge, but realistically, as a rookie, I think this was a great night. We're going to build off of this."
Alex's father, Dan, won titles in the Slinger Stingers street-stock division in 1991 and '92 and stepped out of the car about the time Alex was born. These days he works as a part of Alex's team.
David won super-late model titles at Slinger in 2006 and '07 - and also a Slinger Nationals title - but stepped out of the car after his second son was born.
Dale, a four-time champion in the modifieds from 2003-'06, had been a regular at Slinger in the super-late models in recent years. He's parked for the moment, though, after his wife gave birth to their first child last week.
And Dennis, the 2012 super-late champion, the Slinger Nationals 2015 champion and a two-time champion in the mods, plans to run 10-15 races at Slinger this year, but do more traveling for regional shows and high-paying national-level events.
The final Prunty brother, Dusty, used to drive in enduros and now serves as Dennis' spotter.
While Dennis finds new challenges elsewhere, Alex will have his hands full in the top division at Slinger.
The cornering ability of the car has been one adjustment, the budget another. But Alex, who works in engine and development for Briggs & Stratton, has been building toward this for eight years.
"For the longest time I was driving a beau-up, $400 Pontiac Sunfire, yet I have a super-late, limited-late and a truck and trailer," he said. "If you want it that bad, you can make it happen. I'm still living at home. All my money is going to this car, trying to get to this stage. So far, so good."
Prunty blood runs thick, but so does a competitive spirit. Whatever the combination has been, they've raced out of the same shop, just off Hwy. 41, but...
"The shop has a wall between the two sides," Dennis said.
"Dale and I usually work together. David used to be on his own. Now Alex is on that side. But he knows what I have (for setups)."
Alex and Dennis haven't really raced each other. Although they were on the track a few times together last year when Alex made some super-late model starts at the Dells Motor Speedway, they didn't have occasion to rub fenders. And Dennis made quick work of Alex as he cut through traffic on Sunday.
"I ain't nervous about it or anything," Dennis said. "Whoever wins, wins. I'll race him like anyone else."
The family's passion for racing derived from Doug, Alex's grandfather, who had a brief turn as a driver at the since-closed Hales Corners Speedway.
"From the legendary stories we hear at Christmas, he raced twice and flipped over both times," Alex said. "That was the end of it."
Safe to say the next generations have fared much better.
Click Here to read Dave Kallmann's article about Dennis winning the Slinger Speedway Miller Lite 75 Season Opener.
Photo by Dave Kallmann as Dennis runs his victory lap after the Miller Lite 75 Spring Opener at Slinger Speedway on Sunday, April 24th.
About Dave Kallmann:
Dave Kallmann covers racing and motorsports.
You can also follow Dave on Twitter @davekallmann