||Name: Kevin A. Gobrecht
Nickname: The G-Man
Born: May 2, 1969
Departed: September 24, 1999
Began Racing: 1977 (Age 8)
Go-Kart Wins: TBD
270 Micro Wins: 101
410 Sprint Wins: 21
All Stars Wins: 1 (1996)
World of Outlaw Wins: 1 (1999)
Championships: 3 (1990,1992)
Awards: 1995 Rookie of the Year
Biggest Win: The Big One (1999)
Kevin Gobrecht in 1999
to see enlarged photo
The Amoco car and the the family #92 were put on display
for the WoO show at the Grove on October 2nd 1999. Fans
adorned them with flowers.
Click to see enlarged photo
Kevin at speed in the Amoco #93 in 1999.
to see enlarged photo
Kevin Gobrecht earns his first WoO win at the
Grove in the Zemco #1 in 1998.
to see enlarged photo
In the family #92 in 1996.
to see enlarged photo
| Career Timeline
1977 - Go-Karts
1978 - Go-Karts
1979 - Go-Karts
1980 - Go-Karts
1981 - Go-Karts
1982 - Go-Karts
1983 - Go-Karts
1984 - Go-Karts
1985 - Go-Karts
1986 - Go-Karts
1987 - Go-Karts
1988 - Go-Karts
1989 - Go-Karts
1990 - 270 Micros
1991 - 270 Micros
1992 - 270 Micros
1993 - 270 Micros
1994 - 270 Micros
1995 - 410 Sprints
1996 - 410 Sprints
1997 - 410 Sprints
1998 - 410 Sprints
1999 - 410 Sprints
1990 - Trail-Way (270's)
1992 - Trail-Way (270's)
1992 - Hill Valley (270's)
1977 - TBD (Karts)
1978 - TBD (Karts)
1979 - TBD (Karts)
1980 - TBD (Karts)
1981 - TBD (Karts)
1982 - TBD (Karts)
1983 - TBD (Karts)
1984 - TBD (Karts)
1985 - TBD (Karts)
1986 - TBD (Karts)
1987 - TBD (Karts)
1988 - TBD (Karts)
1989 - TBD (Karts)
1990 - 2 (270's)
1991 - 4 (270's)
1992 - 36 (270's)
1993 - 29 (270's)
1994 - 30 (270's)
1995 - 1 (410's)
1996 - 3 (410's)
1997 - 4 (410's)
1998 - 4 (410's)
1999 - 9 (410's)
|Career 410 Rides
1995 - Family #92
1996 - Family #92
1996 - Pennzoil #22
1997 - Apple #12
1997 - Family #92
1998 - Family #92
1998 - Zemco #1
1999 - Zemco #11
1999 - Amoco #93
Kevin Gobrecht: The Life And Times Of The G-Man
Remembering Kevin Gobrecht: May 2, 1969 - September 24, 1999
Story Written By: Bruce Ellis
Photos By: Bill Taylor, Jack Kromer, Tim Aylwin & Kevin McLoughlin
Feiser's Funeral Home is located on Route 30, just a few blocks west
of the square in New Oxford, Pennsylvania. On a rainy night in late
September, it wasn't hard to find.
The line of mourners stretched for several blocks. The average wait
was four hours. But they waited. In the rain.
They had come to pay their respects to Kevin Gobrecht, a local hero,
who died at age 30 in a sprint car crash at I-80 Speedway near
They came from near and far, some in suits and ties, some in sprint
car T-shirts. And they waited. In the rain.
They could have chosen to attend the funeral a night later. It would
be held in a different location to accommodate the anticipated crowd.
The weather was to be perfect, and the Outlaws would be there. On
this night, there were a few local racers, a promoter or two, and
some media types, but mostly just fans who came to see the G-Man one
And they continued to wait. In the rain.
It was just past midnight when the last of them paid their final
respects. They didn't give up. They did what they set out to do.
Kevin would have been proud of them. He too believed in doing what he
set out to do.
When he was 6 years old, Kevin and his brother, Brian, older by a
year and a half, got on their bicycles and started out for the
neighboring village of East Berlin to go fishing. It was about a
6-mile trip, a long way for two little kids on bicycles. They weren't
even halfway to East Berlin when one of the pedals on Kevin's bicycle
came off. Brian wanted to go back. He was sure his little brother
couldn't make it. But Kevin wouldn't hear of it. He had intended to
go fishing that day, and that's what he did. He made it all the way
to East Berlin and back with one pedal.
Twenty-one years later, he had just run the Sharon Nationals, and his
plan was to go on to Attica in Central Ohio the next day. All of
their help had to return to Pennsylvania. It was just Kevin and Brian
again. Their truck cracked a piston, and Brian, using good judgment,
wanted to go home. Kevin reasoned that since they had intended to go
to the All Star race at Attica, they should give it a try, cracked
piston and all. "We'll make it," he said. "Let's go."
So they went. They had used tires, a limited inventory of spare
parts, and no help. Kevin mounted tires and changed bars while other
drivers watched their crews do the work. But at the end of the night,
he had his first All Star win.
That determination was evident throughout his racing career, which
began in go-karts at age 8. He didn't do the things most kids do
because he was either racing or working on his kart. Even in his high
school years, he would work on the kart after school and, when it got
late, take an engine into his house and work on it while he was
His heroes included local sprint car stars Bobby Allen and Steve
Smith. He liked them because they were hard-core racers who built
their own cars and did their own work. And they would find a way to
race even when the money had seemingly run out. He especially liked
Smith, who used to sneak his own son Stevie and his little friend
Kevin into the pits at Williams Grove and Lincoln when they were much
too young to be there. As his go-kart career progressed to paved road
courses, he gained respect for Formula 1 racers. He knew how hard it
was to get a go-kart around a road course and could only imagine how
difficult it must be to do those hairpin turns in a powerful F-1 car.
His hero was Ayrton Senna, who, ironically, would be the victim of
fatal injuries suffered when debris went into the cockpit of his race
car during a crash.
While Kevin was racing karts, he left high school before his senior
year to attend Millersville University on an entry program. He would
graduate from Millersville with a bachelor's degree in business and
During his college years, he was racing and working in the family
business, Golf Cart Services. The business reconditions, sells, and
services golf carts in a 13-county area. Kevin was a mechanic and
later served as the parts manager. Golf Cart Services is located
across the street from the race shop, which is next to the small
yellow house that Kevin and Brian shared. "This little corner on
Route 30 is what we do," Kevin would tell Open Wheel in 1996. "We
work for Dad, then at night, we go back and work on race cars. We've
done it for so long. This is the way racing has always been for us."
His racing advanced from go-karts to micro-sprints when his older
brother Scott vacated the seat in his grandfather's micro.
In his second year in micros at age 21, Kevin won two features en
route to the track championship at Trailway Speedway. A year later,
he split with his grandfather and sat out for four months while he
put his own micro-sprint team together.
"When he went on his own, he took everything personally," recalls
Brian Gobrecht, "and that's when he really started to win."
The new owner/driver won four of the ten micro races he entered in
1991. He came back in 1992 to win 36 features spread over nine
different tracks along with championships at Trailway and Hill
Valley. He backed that up with 29 victories in 1993.
By 1994, he had become so dominant that he expected to win every
night, and when he lost, the agony of defeat far outweighed the
thrill of victory. The only driver who seemed capable of beating him
was his brother, Brian, and they often raced at different tracks on
the same nights so both of them could win.
Despite another 30 victories for Kevin, 1994 would be his last year
in micros. It was clear that the fun was gone for him in that form of
"One night, we ran a micro race, and I ran third and Kevin was
fourth," Brian began. "The next day, we were moping around like we
had just blown up both our motors."
Brian told him they were done with micros.
"I'll sell what I gotta sell, and we're gonna get a sprint car,"
Brian said. "If you run third and fourth and you're unhappy, it's
time to move on. Because we'd won so many races, the winning wasn't
as spectacular, but the losing was even worse.
"I told Kevin he was gonna drive the sprint car. He was younger. He
had more intensity, and he handled pressure better. He knew cars
better than I did. He was in micros longer than I was. I always felt
that if one of us had a chance to go far in racing, it was gonna be
Brian's little brother made his sprint car debut at Lincoln in 1995,
and it didn't take him long to get fast.
Despite some crashes, he was showing steady improvement and, had it
not been for a flat tire, would have won a feature at Lincoln in
early July. Although Kevin lost a race that night, he did gain a
mechanic. Brian had been racing a micro the night Kevin nearly won at
"I thought, Something's happening here. Something good is happening
here," Brian said. "We always wanted to be involved in sprint cars.
Now we've got a sprint car. I'm helping to pay the bills on it, and
I'm not enjoying it. I felt like I was missing something really
special, and just like that, I was done. I quit racin' micros and
started going to the races with Kevin."
Three weeks later, the G-Man got his first win at Lincoln and held
off Pennsylvania superstar Fred Rahmer in the process. He also
qualified for all six World of Outlaws races he entered in 1995 and
impressed enough voters to be named the National Sprint Car Poll's
Rookie of the Year.
Kevin got off to a good start in 1996 with a victory in the
prestigious Williams Grove opener. Six weeks later, he would win
another one, and people were starting to notice.
Still in the family car, which was financed by the Gobrecht brothers
and their father Bob, Kevin was spectacular riding the wall at Eldora
the night before the Big One in August. His performance was
reminiscent of one of Ohio's favorite sons, Jac Haudenschild.
Haud wasn't spectacular on this weekend: "The Wild Child" was
hurting, still feeling the effects of a crash at New York's Lebanon
Valley Speedway. There was no way he could race the Big One. He would
be sidelined for the next several weeks.
Haudenschild was in the Pennzoil machine at the time, and car-owner
Jack Elden needed a substitute driver to keep his sponsor's colors on
the circuit. The team's crew chief was Kirk Dewease, whose brother,
Lance, is a star on the Pennsylvania circuit. Kirk knew about Kevin
and recommended him to the car-owner. Elden agreed to meet the young
"I was told he was a hard charger, but after I met him, I could see
that Kevin was also a true gentleman," Elden said. "He was a very
straightforward, honest person, and I liked that."
So there was the G-Man in his second season of sprint car racing,
subbing for one of the most exciting drivers on the WoO tour. He was
in a car carrying corporate sponsorship, and working for one of the
game's top owners. He debuted in the Big One, then went on to the
Knoxville Nationals. Kevin had come a long, long way in a very short
Haudenschild was back in a few weeks, and Kevin returned to
Pennsylvania, but the G-Man left on good terms with his car-owner.
"I was very impressed with him," Elden said. "If Jac and I had ever
parted, I would have hired Kevin."
Kevin closed the '96 season with the aforementioned All Star win at
Attica but during the year had gained a close friend in Lee Stauffer,
who, along with his father, maintained the Apple Chevrolet car on the
Since Kevin and Lee were both eligible bachelors, they spent whatever
free time they could find trying to pick up girls, says Stauffer.
"We were in the same situation when we were in school," he began. "My
dad and I worked in our shop seven days a week. Kevin and his
brothers did the same thing at their shop. It wasn't that we didn't
like girls when we were younger. The opportunity just wasn't there.
We wished it would've been."
Although he was afraid it would affect their friendship, Stauffer
offered Kevin the seat in the Apple car for the '97 season.
Friendship notwithstanding, it was a sound business move, from Lee's
"It was evident that he was gonna be a helluva race car driver,"
Stauffer said. Kevin was following Fred Rahmer and Keith Kauffman
into one of the best rides in Pennsylvania. For a local driver in his
third season of sprint car racing, all those things spelled pressure.
They won two races at the Grove and two at Lincoln, but the crashes
far outnumbered the victories. Late in the season, Lee Stauffer was
the one who had to end it.
"Kevin was frustrated. I was frustrated. My dad was frustrated," Lee
said. "I called him up and said, 'Kevin, it just didn't work out. I'm
The firing strained their relationship for a few weeks, but when
Kevin crashed his own car at Williams Grove, Lee was there to offer
parts and assistance, and their friendship was back on track.
Lee Stauffer knew there would be more good rides in Kevin's future.
"Because of his passion. His will to win. Every lap he was gonna give
110 percent. That's why he wrecked so much," Stauffer said. "You get
tired of fixing cars after a while, but you get tired of running
eighth, too." He knew Kevin would never be content running eighth. So
did John Zemaitis, who, in July 1998, offered a part-time job driving
his Zemco #1, since the car's primary driver, Billy Pauch, had
commitments to race a modified on Saturday nights.
Kevin's first victory in the Zemco car stopped Rahmer's 12-race
winning streak at Lincoln. His second win was against the World of
Outlaws at Williams Grove. He would get two more at Lincoln before
the season ended.
He would also meet a girl named Bobbi Myers, who worked at the French
Fry stand at Lincoln. After that, his nights on the town with Lee
Stauffer were numbered. The Zemco team would field two cars for
special races in 1999. Pauch would drive at Williams Grove and Kevin
at Lincoln and at any other time that Billy couldn't be there.
The G-Man won a race at Volusia, then the next night flipped out the
ballpark in a frightening crash in which his car erupted in flames,
"I was upset with him (because of the crash) at Volusia," said Lee,
who watched his own driver, Greg Hodnett, help Kevin climb out of the
wreckage. "He was such a calm person outside the race car. I don't
know what clicked off in his head when he strapped in. I told him he
needed to calm himself down."
Kevin must have heeded his friend's advice, because when he came back
to Pennsylvania, he was virtually unbeatable. As an example: On March
27, he won at Lincoln in the afternoon and Port Royal at night. The
next afternoon, he won at Williams Grove. He was driving with a
confidence that made him seem invincible.
A couple of days later, somebody said to Bob Gobrecht that he must be
very proud of his son after winning three races in less than 24
"I was even more proud of him when he showed up for work first thing
Monday morning," Bob replied.
By mid-April, the G-Man had eight victories and was the winningest
driver in sprint car racing.
About that time, he got a phone call from Dave Blaney.
The former World of Outlaws champion and current Busch Grand National
ace needed a driver for his sprint car, and he wanted the G-Man. It
was a full-time WoO deal, complete with a highly successful crew
chief in Kenny Woodruff and major sponsorship from Amoco. Blaney had
his pick of drivers. Why Kevin Gobrecht?
"He was winning races consistently in Pennsylvania, and that's the
toughest weekly thing goin'," Blaney said. "Those guys have an edge
as far as learning how to race on a big track. He was the obvious
choice to us."
Kevin flew to Atlanta to meet with Blaney and the Amoco
representatives. Kathy Leech, motorsports manager for BP Amoco, was
at the meeting. "He impressed me as being incredibly intelligent,"
she said. "Very confident without being cocky. Very well-spoken. He
just seemed that he would represent us extremely well--and he did."
The Amoco deal seemed like a no-brainer. It was clearly one of the
best rides in the country. But, according to Brian Gobrecht, Kevin
thought long and hard before accepting.
"He knew Dale (Blaney) didn't go very well in that car. Suppose it
wasn't Dale. Suppose it was the car. Kevin thought he might get in
the deal and look like a jerk," Brian said.
There were other reasons for his soul searching.
"It happened so fast," Brian continued. "At that time, Kevin was
still a golf-cart mechanic who raced part-time. And he got along so
well with that whole Zemco crew. He knew how much fun he was having
Still, the offer was too tempting to resist for a man two weeks shy
of his 30th birthday and only four years removed from micro-sprints.
"He made the decision because he was a part-time driver who had a
chance to be an Outlaw," Brian said.
"This was his shot, and if he wouldn't have taken it he would've
always looked back and said, 'What if...'"
He joined the Amoco team in Tulsa and ran fourth to match the car's
best finish at that point in the season.
A few days later, the G-Man experienced what corporate sponsorship is
all about. He found himself in a convention center in New Orleans
greeting 3,000 of Amoco's best customers.
"For three days, he sat and signed autographs and charmed everyone,"
Kathy Leech remembered. "He found a way to connect with every person
Things would not be going quite as well on the racetrack, however.
The team struggled for two months. A DNQ at Lernerville was the final
indignity. Kevin came home to New Oxford in late July to await the
weekend WoO races at the Grove and Hagerstown--and to contemplate his
future. He knew the Zemco car was his if he wanted it.
Although he knew J&J chassis were winning races all over the country,
Kevin felt more comfortable in Maxims. Just a personal preference. So
he called Blaney, who told him to contact Woodruff. He got Woodruff's
voice mail, left a message, then went fishing with his brothers and
While he was on the fishing boat, his cell phone rang. It was
Woodruff. If Kevin didn't mind missing a weekend, the veteran crew
chief would go home and put three new Maxims together. Woodruff was
willing to do whatever it took to keep his driver happy.
"Kev and Kenny got along fine," Brian said. "They got along like a
driver and crew chief should get along. They didn't always agree, but
anybody who felt that those two hated each other was just reading
between the lines and didn't know what was going on."
That afternoon, Kevin told Brian he felt more relaxed on that old
fishing boat than he'd been in two months.
The G-Man was comfortable again, and his confidence was back. In his
first weekend in the new car, he won the Big One at Eldora. A week
later, he ran third in the Knoxville Nationals. The six-week Western
swing was next, and Kevin recorded 9 top-10 finishes in 14 starts.
"We had some good nights and some rough nights," he said of the
He was leading at Gray's Harbor near Elma, Washington, when he made
contact with a lapped car. He was running away with a qualifying
night feature at Calistoga when a flat tire took him out. He felt
driver error cost him the Gold Cup at Chico.
"Racing in California is not like racing anywhere else," he said.
"California was nice, but I'm glad to be going back to some places
that I've at least seen before. It'll be nice racing on those big
tracks, where we can really get going."
Within 10 days of the final Western stop at Rock Springs, Wyoming, he
expected to be home. Back with his family in New Oxford. Back racing
at the Grove in the National Open.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to Pennsylvania," he said.
"There is going to be a lot of pressure on me to do well there, but
I've got pressure to do well every night out here."
So, after two months on the road, Kevin was coming home. There was
just one stop between Rock Springs, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania. Just
one weekend stop. At I-80 Speedway near Greenwood, Nebraska.
And that's where it ended.
"He was living a dream," Brian said. "One week he was jet-skiing in
California, the next he was riding the sand dunes with ATVs. He was
doing all the stuff he never got to do before.
"The more we think about it, the more this whole deal seems like
fate. This year was going so good for him on every level. He was very
much in love with Bobbi. The way he started the year in Pennsylvania
was just about perfect. Then he got the Outlaw ride. Things didn't go
real well with the Outlaws at first, but maybe it was fate that he
didn't qualify at Lernerville. That made them take a few days off to
put cars together. It gave the family one last chance to bond with
him. It gave us our last chance to get together as a family and do
things. We didn't know it at the time, but he was never coming home
"Winning the Big One. Running third at the Knoxville Nationals. It
was almost like the Lord was saying, 'Boy, you're leaving this world
soon, but we're gonna let you fulfill all your dreams before you
go.'" Rest in peace, G-Man.
Used with permission from Doug Auld of Openwheel.
Thank you for
allowing this to be published on this web site.