Shaun Horstmann is running this Mike Harrison tribute car in the 2018 Gateway Dirt Nationals; See and hear Harrison’s reaction to the surprise dirt modified wrap
Mike Harrison has been racing since 1995. Since then, he’s collected well over 500 victories. In 2018, he claimed the UMP Nationals Championship for the seventh time.
Shaun Horstmann is the 2018 Highland Speedway track champion. He picked up a single win at the track this year en route to the title. But, four runner-up finishes were put in place before the trip to victory lane, consistency granted the championship.
He’s also run the full Summer Nationals tour. He came up just short of a top-10 run in the standings.
“That’s pretty much it I guess, jumping around,” Horstmann told RacingNews.co of his racing accomplishments.
How did this come about? And who’s idea was it?
“The idea’s been around forever. I kept trying to get him to do it. He don’t wanna do it. He don’t like red and white or any of that anymore. I was trying to get him to do it for a long time,” Hortsmann continued.
“I kinda said, ‘Let’s just go for it at The Dome. I had to build a new body anyway. So, I thought it would be cool.
How did you and Mike end up meeting?
“I was buddies with his son Michael, pretty much since we were kids. We grew up in the same school, same grade and everything. We were buddies all the way through high school and we’re still buddies now.”
Now, Mike Harrison and Shaun Horstmann essentially share a race shop in the Highland, Illinois area.
“Were I live, I got my garage. Then, the back half of my house is another shop. About 3 years ago, he started renting that space from me.”
“That’s kinda my ticket to getting in with him and having him help me set it up,” Horstmann says with a laugh. “It is two separate shops but they’re about 40 feet apart.”
How much do you guys actually work together?
“The last three years we’ve worked pretty close together. I didn’t have an Impressive until this year. That made a heck of a difference. Mike runs an Impressive. So, now I pretty much have what he has.”
“He can tell me what I need to do for what. Before that, it was an old Dirt Works. He didn’t have a clue what to tell me.
How did you go about keeping this throwback wrap a secret?
“It was pretty difficult. Building the body next to him, he definitely noticed that it looked weird because it looks like an old car. We didn’t wrap it until Tuesday night.”
“We loaded it up and kept him from seeing it. We kept it in the trailer until now.”
Was that always the plan to wrap it at the last second?
“It wasn’t no. I was actually going to show him about a week before. They kinda dropped the ball on me. The guys at Aggressive Graphics were moving shops last week. They had all kinds of stuff going on. That actually wrapped his about an hour before mine. They were tight on everything,” Horstmann concluded.
The car was unloaded at The Gateway Dirt Nationals with the car cover still on it. The cover remained on the ride until Harrison walked into the building to unload his own #24 machine in the stall next door.
“It’s something special,” Mike Harrison told RacingNews.co shortly after the cover came off the throwback car. “Shaun and his family, I’ve known them for a lot of years. He grew up with my oldest boy. So, I’ve been much known Shaun all my life.”
“He’s always kinda talked about that wrap. So, I don’t know if that was just his favorite wrap when he was a kid growing up or what.”
“The relationship we have now, his shop’s right next to mine. We’re not necessarily a team together. But, we’re so close together that we almost are always together. It’s almost like we’re family.”
When you see it are there any specific memories that come back at you?
“I remember that car plain as day. As far as certain memories racing that year, not really.”
They all blend together?
“Yeah. We’ve had so many cars through the years. I remember all my cars but I definitely remember that one. I actually got a fire suit that matches that car. If I would have known I could have let him wear the fire suit.”
Who tipped you off to the wrap? I know you hadn’t seen it but had an idea something was coming?
“Nobody tipped me off of anything besides the fact that they were keeping it so secretive. They would not let me see nothing. I’m always over as his shop, he’s always over in mine.”
“From the time that his car went to get wrapped, it was locked up in the trailer and the key was thrown away.”
“I knew something was going on. Shaun and his buddy Tyler, they always talk about doing an old retro car of the old red and white checkered machine.”
“The morning after he brought his car home from getting wrapped. I woke up that morning and said, ‘They’re doing something. If I was to have to guess, they’re doing exactly what I thought they were.’ ”
“As far as him having the number on there and all the sponsors somewhat in form to what I had them back then, they did a hell of a job.”
“Aggressive Graphics, those guys to a fantastic job on every car I have. They just built a brand new state of the art shop. I see big things coming from them guys.”
“They all knew about it. I was the only one that didn’t. They had me. I was MF’ing all of them. It’s all good and fun. I wish Shaun the best of luck running it this weekend.”