This is part two of a feature on Freddie Rahmer from the February issue of Sprint Car & Midget Magazine. To read part one, click here.
While no one would deny that fighting through an engineering program takes a considerable amount of time and attention, the rigors of maintaining a full-time job and racing at a high level require a great deal of energy and focus as well.
In 2019, Freddie made nine trips to victory lane, but fell short of his goal of another Williams Grove championship. He feels he left a little on the table, and his father, while empathetic, largely agrees.
One thing father and son understand is that when Fred Rahmer is at the race track, he is there primarily as the car owner, not as a dad.
It is an arrangement that both men feel makes all the sense in the world.
“When we get to the racetrack, he is the owner,” Freddie said with a laugh. “He’s no longer my dad. Moon (Byers) and me prepare the car, and that is the way it should be. That’s our roles.”
While all of this sounds good in the abstract, the potential hazards are not difficult to surmise. Rarely are great players in stick-and-ball sports good managers. Things came easy to them, and it is sometimes hard for them to understand why others can’t perform to the level they once did.
Freddie understands that this is a plausible scenario, but eschews the notion that it is a dynamic in his current situation.
“It is probably frustrating for him at times,” Freddie admitted. “Because he knows what needs to be done. He just knows what it takes. But he supports the whole deal, and the process. He doesn’t ask me to do anything he wouldn’t.
“We are both very competitive, and at times people don’t want to be in our trailer. You can’t win every night, but we go every night with that intention, and when it doesn’t work we’re not real happy. Some people might not be able to deal with it the way it is, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I didn’t race for my dad, he would have to be there every night with me. I don’t know if I would want to race without him, or both of my parents really.
“It doesn’t carry into regular life. We try to get it figured out. As the owner, he does a real good job of keeping the equipment fresh and looking ahead. I really think we have one of the best cars in Pennsylvania right now.”
Every parent can appreciate Fred Rahmer’s dilemma, particularly those who understand the importance of finding the right balance between being nurturing and tough. What Fred also realizes is that, in the end, it comes down to what his son wants.
The question looms: Does he have the intensity, the focus, and the willingness to work to achieve his goals? As one could imagine, for this man, less than a 100 percent effort is unacceptable.
Luckily, Fred can draw upon his experience as a driver, and the most important lessons were those that came not when he was on the top of the world, but when he was searching for answers.
When it comes to Freddie (and Brandon) he noted, “When I watch, and they don’t do what they should do, and everybody does that, I don’t think of it as frustration, it is more being disappointed for them. That’s just part of the business. So, with Freddie, he doesn’t have to do this for me, but if he is going to do it he needs to do it right and up to his full potential. Otherwise you are cheating everybody who helps you: your sponsors, and everybody who is there.
“It is more about him doing what he is capable of, and I think he is capable of winning quite a few races. But it is hard. It is really hard. When you quit driving you get a different perspective, as dumb as that sounds. Now I realize how mental this is. If your head’s not right, you’re not going to be good, no matter how good the car is. That is the toughest part for me.”
Fred also understands his son has entered a new phase in his life, and he understands that Freddie is trying his best to get everything in order.
“He’s dealing with all this stuff,” Fred says. “He has a full-time job, and he has to balance that. I told him, you have to get up when you get to the race track, not let down because you made it through your workday. You have to get up, and get after it, and not slip the other way.
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