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'It all started in my dad's shop'

Chris Schultz /The Janesville Gazette

(Published June 18, 2007, 3:25 p.m.)

Macklyn "Mac" Krohn, of Lake Geneva won't be with his son Steve on Father's Day, but he still hopes to see him.

If all goes well, Mac will get a glimpse of his son on TV during the broadcast of NASCAR's Citizens' Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich.

That's because Steve works the pits for Brian Vickers' No. 83 Team Red Bull Toyota.

It's a career that started at his father's service station near Lake Geneva, where he started pumping gas at age 9.

Steve, 45, says he hopes to meet with his dad this week Thursday, when the team will be at the Milwaukee Mile tuning one of its cars.

"I'll give him a jingle," Steve said in a recent telephone interview.

Get togethers between Steve and his dad have been rarer since Steve began working for NASCAR teams and moved to South Carolina in 1998.

Steve is a gas man, lugging 85-pound gas cans on a run in a job where every second counts. He is also a competition mechanic, responsible for rear suspension and drive train.

A career in racing is his dream job, Steve said. It's a passion he traces back to those early days in his dad's shop.

Steve's younger brother, Mike Krohn, now a mechanic at Butch's Auto Body in Lake Geneva, also started that way.

The brothers have two sisters, Sandra Krohn of Holmen and Kris Slawson of Lake Geneva. Their mother is Jeanette Krohn.

Steve said he learned to fix cars looking over his father's shoulder.

"It's just a matter of watching and learning," Steve said. "It sort of comes to you."

The brothers say their father was a laid-back boss.

Mac owned two service stations near Lake Geneva, one near the entrance of the old Playboy Club (now Grand Geneva) from 1969 to 1977, and another on old Highway 120, just northeast of Lake Geneva.

Mac said fixing machinery and engines came easily to him.

"I was a farm boy out of Powers Lake," Mac said. "Every time something broke, I had to fix it."

Racing was also a part of Mac's life, and he passed that down to his sons, too.

Shortly after graduating from old Lake Geneva High School in 1958, Mac raced open-wheel modified dirt racers. He raced until 1962 and then hung it up for the sake of family.

Mac joked that his sons no sooner put down their baby bottles when they were racing around on go-karts and lawn mowers.

"Racing has always been in our blood," said Mac. "We'd always go to the Milwaukee Mile at least once a year."

A 1980 graduate of Badger High School, Steve raced at the old Lake Geneva Raceway from 1979 to 1982. He and Mike also drove demolition derby.

Now the connections between father and older son are few. NASCAR puts a tremendous demand on Steve's time.

"This Christmas he couldn't get home because they were testing the Toyotas, "the cars that Red Bull is now racing," Mac said.

On the other hand, Mac said he understands his older son's passion for cars and racing.

"He's accomplished what he wanted to do," Mac said.

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