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Nekolite Has Family History In Racing

Apr 3, 2024 (0)

TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN - They may not look the same, but both pictures show Dan Nekolite, accomplished race car driver and professional Chiropractor.
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN - They may not look the same, but both pictures show Dan Nekolite, accomplished race car driver and professional Chiropractor.

By Lee Ackerman,

When you think of someone driving a sprint car, the fact that they are also a chiropractor seems to make a lot of sense. That's the case with Daniel Nekolite of O'Neill, Nebraska, who at Finish Line Chiropractic & Acupuncture P.C. helps people with their aches and pains during the week, then goes out and drives a sprint car and hopes he's not the one being treated on Monday.

But when you are a third-generation race car driver, somehow the dangers of being behind the wheel of a sprint car are somewhat put in the back of your mind. Dr. Dan's hometrack is the Stuart Raceway in Stuart, Nebraska, population (under 700) and just 30 miles west of Nekolite's home in O'Neill. Stuart is a little quarter mile (if that) bullring that will racing in its 70th year this year and does so with all volunteer help. Perhaps one of the truly last bastions of racing for the fun of it.

Nekolite started his racing career in 2005 at the age of 18 running at the Stuart Raceway in the limited sprint 360 class. “I really wanted to start sooner but the track would not let me race a sprint car until I was 18,” comments Nekolite. In addition to racing at Stuart, Nekolite raced at Albion, once in a while at Eagle plus at Wagner and Winner in South Dakota.

The highlight of those early days was racing against the World of Outlaws in 2009 at Winner, making the A feature by being the last transfer from the B and running a 360 motor against the 410s. "That was a thrill," said Nekolite, “I got to be on the track with Steve Kinser, one of my heroes.”

Then 2009, Nekolite stepped away from racing and spent five years in Chiropractic School. The Nekolite team still raced during those years with Mark Finnell driving the car in Nebraska and Missouri until Nekolite returned to the seat. “One year after graduating from chiropractic school and it was time to see if racing was still my passion,” comments Nekolite.

“We started racing in the new 305 Racesaver class and it took us a year to figure things out and another year just to put things together,” recalls Nekolite. But things did come together and in 2018, Nekolite tied for his first track championship at Stuart Raceway but lost the points championship due to the tiebreaker.

In 2019, the team continued to get better and won their first track championship at the Wagner Speedway. Unfortunately, 2020 was not so kind to the team as they suffered motor issues and other mechanical gremlins that just kept them scratching their heads. That year they teamed up with Jeff Reiman of Texas, who had been racing with Nekolite team from 2003 thru 2009. They shortly added another driver in Dennis Engelhaupt, who was new to sprint cars but a fiery competitor in the street stock and modified classes.

The 2021 season started out for all three Nekolite teams at the Spring Nationals at the Devil's Bowl in Mesquite, Texas with disappointing results. Back home for the regular season and Dan decided to race Wagner on Friday nights, Eagle on Saturday night and Stuart on Sunday nights. It was to be a long and testing summer with Dan blowing up his Meyer racing engine a Denison, Iowa while leading Nebraska State points, Wagner points and being second at Stuart.

  “At that point with no engine, funds running low it seemed we were in big trouble,” stated Nekolite. “Then Jeff Reiman decided to step aside and let us use his engine and wow did it pay off.” It would allow Nekolite to pursue a dream of joining his grandfather and his dad as track champions at the Stuart Raceway. They both had won a pair of track championships back in the day at Stuart.

It came down to the last night at Stuart with Nekolite trailing his fierce rival Bob Dvorak, (who had won more races at Stuart in the last 15 years than any other driver), by two points in the points battle and it seemed an uphill battle. “The race team and I decided to try something different that we had never tried before,” says Nekolite. “We swung for the fences, and it worked and with a second-place finish, they ended up winning the 2021 Stuart Raceway track championship by two points and realizing Nekolite's dream of becoming a third-generation track champion.

“Looking back at 2021, it was a year of great success for the #22D team, but it couldn't have been done without a lot of hard work and efforts of the whole team,” continues Nekolite. “Whether it be dad always driving us home through the middle of the night so we can get to the next race, or guys getting up early the next day to wash the cars, the wives making food, cleaning the trailer out or even the Engelhaupt kids polishing the race cars, so we could always look sharp. There are a lot of efforts that probably go without us giving thanks, but they are not unappreciated.”

In 2022, Nekolite will once again be behind the wheel of his 2018 Maxim #22D hoping to race as many tracks as possible and maybe get in some two and three-day shows and not focus on points so much. Included in his goals are to win an A feature at Eagle Raceway, win the Racesaver Nationals and to win National points.

Dan and his dad, Danny Nekolite, Jr. are co-owners of his race car and continue the tradition of the Nekolite Family in race with Dan being a third-generation driver. “Racing in my family actually got started with my grandfather's sister and her husband, Donna and Paul Irwin,” says Nekolite. “They asked my grandfather Danny Nekolite, Sr. to drive one of their cars.” It wasn't long and Danny, Sr. and brother Danny were making a name for themselves. Over the years both Danny Nekolite, Sr. and Danny Nekolite, Jr. won track championships at the Stuart Raceway.

Danny Nekolite, Jr. is the crew chief of the team as well with others helping including Bill Hamik, Jim Liable, Shane Isom, Dan Meyer and Jasmine Nekolite.

Sponsorship support is provided by: DNJ Truck Repair, Shad's Electric, Pritchett Twine and Netwrap, Schindler Flying, Rowse Rakes, Neko's Pub, Tore it up Roofing, Jenkins Detailing, Dennis Nekolite Trucking, FCF Construction, J & L Collision, Demon Decals, Red Line Oil and Heath Wilson Trucking.

“As I look back over my racing career, I have to give a major tribute of thanks to my parents,” comments Nekolite.

“My parents sacrificed so much to be able to help not just me but other drivers as well. Jeff Reiman, Mark Finnell, Dennis Engelhaupt. Their pride and joys are having cars on the track, and watching the drivers compete. Danny, Jr. is always helping other drivers and my mom, Deb is always there, providing support, food and drink and being a good cheerleader in the stands.”

We ask Daniel how he became a chiropractor. “Well, my dad was a truck driver and he wanted me to have something better,” recalls Nekolite. “I wanted something to do with health, I thought about going into optometry, but I met a chiropractor and after spending time with him and seeing the interaction with patients, I decided that was for me.”

So, are any of the drivers you race with and against your patients? “Yes, we have had some of the drivers as patients,” says Nekolite. “It's not uncommon for a driver to ask me at the track to take some of their kinks out.”

Trefor Waller is the 2020 South Dakota Champion and I-90 Speedway Champions and remembers when he first got started. "I learned a lot from Daniel when I first started racing following him around the track,” remembers Waller.

Keith Larabee is the Promoter at the Stuart Speedway and says “The Nekolite Family have been big supporters of the track for years and are good to work with and they are very passionate about the sport.”

We look for Nekolite Racing to have continued success in the future and hopeful Dr. Dan will not have to take the kinks out of competitors too often.


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