By Shawn Brouse
For The Daily Item
The style and flair that the 28th annual National Open will sport this year in honor of the late Jim Nace is reminiscent of the late Central Pennsylvania powerhouse racer himself. And that fact is not lost on those who will compete in his memory this weekend.
The career of 40-year veteran Keith Kauffman of Mifflintown and Nace’s career began at about the same time and the pair raced each other hard through the years.
“Jim was a diehard racer. He loved the race cars, he loved to race, and that’s just it,” Kauffman says.
“Racing was a big thing in his life and very important to him so I hope people try to remember that.
“He was one of the better story tellers and he could remember everything too. He just loved racing, loved the people, he loved the racetracks and was just a super great guy,” the 60-year old racer remembers.
Veteran Fred Rahmer of Salfordville began his sprint racing career in the 1980s while Nace was already entrenched.
“He always was upbeat and a great racer and a good person. He always had some one-liners,” Rahmer happily recalls.
“I remember at Selinsgrove, coming off of (turn) two used to be real tight, and he used to tell me, ‘If you’re not by me by here, you’ll be here when I drive by.’ ”
“He was a really good competitor and a really great guy. And his passing is one of the sadder things in racing that I’ve seen since I’ve been racing. Losing him was terrible,” reflects Rahmer.
“When I came into the sport, he was at his peak. And it was a level I couldn’t race at for a long, long time and I tried to show him as much respect as I could and he surely deserved it and still does.
“He was a really good racer, a really good guy and really good for the sport,” Rahmer added. Fan friendly, a good person, a super guy. He ranks right up there.”