The Z-Man!

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Chuck and Nick ZitterichChuck and Nick Zitterich (Bill W) May 16, 2019, Monroe, IA – There was shock last weekend in Knoxville’s pit area of the news that Chuck Zitterich had passed.  Chuck was only 61 years old.

I met Chuck many moons ago.  A member of the Zitterich racing family in Sioux Falls, he will always be remembered as someone who was measured in his opinions, considering all sides of an issue.

Chuck served in a number of capacities once becoming an official, with a number of series and tracks.  I knew him when he worked at Huset’s, headed the NMRA sprint series, and then was competition director for the ASCS Northern Plains and ASCS Midwest regional series.

As his wife Sonja has said, family was first with Chuck and racing was a very close second!  This was true when Chuck decided to retire from the ASCS gigs and spend more time close to home, though he was also spending Saturday’s at Knoxville as a technical inspector.

Late in 2014, however, Tod Quiring was forming the National Sprint League.  It was too good a gig for Chuck to pass on.  A much needed boost was occurring in 410 racing in the Midwest. 

I was proud to join Chuck as the first employees of the National Sprint League.  We shared a great season, and though I knew him well before, it was great to work hand in hand with the team that was assembled for 2015. 

I saw up close and personal the impact Chuck had on those around him.  He welcomed family members of employees, fans, and anyone who came in contact with him as a part of the NSL family.  It didn’t matter if it was a regular driver following the series, or one passing through for one night…he treated all the same.

The growing pains of a new series are many, but things went relatively smoothly.  There were a few format changes along the way, but Chuck’s point system was eventually perfected, weighing qualifying with heat finishes to determine the night’s feature event.  That system was adopted for Knoxville Raceway and is still used on a weekly basis.

There are always disagreements with drivers, and Chuck was the guy on the front lines.  Despite everything going on, his temper was kept in check at all times.  I was amazed at the calm he possessed with some of the nonsense that went on. 

As Sonja recalls, he said, “There’s no reason to yell, just walk away.  Get all of the information and look at both sides, then go back with the decision and stick to it.”  That was Chuck.

As a result, the NSL was a resounding success, featuring the toughest driver lineup anywhere outside the World of Outlaws (or maybe tougher than them too in 2015).  The fans flocked to the races, and the NSL working team had a great time from Farmington, Missouri to Sioux Falls, to Eagle to Sun Prairie.  It was a lot of work, and a lot of fun, and much of that was due to Chuck.

Chuck passed of a heart attack while driving in Sioux Falls.  His truck struck another car, but there were no other injuries.  In a time when it is hard to have a sense of humor, son Nick mused to me, “At least he went out hitting a Mercedes.”  Well said!

Sonja said something else in the bulletin that will stick with me.  “If you called him your friend, you were lucky.”  I couldn’t agree more, and our thoughts are with her, son Nick, daughter Amy and the rest of the family during these tough times.  At Chuck’s visitation Wednesday it was evident that there were plenty that could make the claim of being Chuck’s friend.  There were plenty more where that came from who couldn’t make it there.  We were all lucky indeed!

Bill Wright
Bill W Media 
Twitter: @BillWMedia