BEAVER DAM, Wis. – Jim Bucher watched race cars whip around the short tracks of southeastern Wisconsin with much admiration for those people behind the wheel for many years.
He never thought he’d be one of those people. And for four-plus seasons now, Bucher, 38, of Richfield, Wis., is one of them, which by itself is an impressive accomplishment for the real estate broker.
As of five years ago, he had no idea how to change the oil on his car, let alone did he know what the parts underneath the hood of his car did. He’d tell you he’d be the last person to ask for car advice.
But he loved the sport so much, he knew it was something he wouldn’t mind trying if he was afforded the opportunity.
Then one day his wife gave him the go-ahead.
“My wife and I were done having kids, so she said, ‘Go ahead, buy a race car,’” he said.
And he did.
Bucher’s “spectacular” racing career, he said, started at the end of the 2007 season. Growing up, he admired the drivers at Slinger Super Speedway, which was less than 30 minutes from his hometown of Menomonee Falls, Wis., a northwest suburb of Milwaukee.
“I had been going to tracks in the area trying to figure out what to get into, saw the Legends, and knew right then what I was going to race,” he said.
As one would imagine, it wasn’t easy. However, Bucher was prepared to do his homework.
After the 2007 season, he took apart his entire Legends car, piece by piece, just so he could learn what each part was and what it did. To help him through the process, he took pictures at each stage that he took a part off the car so he knew where it needed to be returned on the car.
He did most of his learning by himself. He did have some outside help, though. Dan Troyan and Chris Johnson were there and willing to help.
“It gave me people to bounce ideas off of,” Bucher said. “I had a lot of self-doubt. It’s nice to have someone to call at any time and give you a pointer.”
He made a lot of phone calls at the start. At times, he felt a bit guilty about how often he’d bug them. Troyan was good with engine setup and tuning, while Johnson, a former modified driver, was good with the suspension.
With more work, a lot of hours of consultation and practice, Bucher began to figure it out. He was able to figure out how to change the oil on the car.
Bucher thought when he showed up at the race track for the first time as a driver, not as a spectator, he was going to be embarrassed.
To his surprise, Bucher was welcomed with open arms by the people he was going to race against and try to beat. That was enough of a reason to stick with it.
“It’s just a great group,” Bucher said. “I can’t imagine racing anything else.”