Ed Wolf – Driver/Contributor

By Chad Meyer

Algona’s Gene Schattschneider, an inaugural member of the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame, left an early and lasting impression on Ed Wolf. His interest and passion for motorsports was fueled by watching Gene race and forging a friendship with Gene’s son Terry.

“Growing up, we’d watch Gene race in Algona and even get to ride to the Boone Speedway with them in the old panel van they had. We also hung around Wayne Meyer’s and Dave Hanselman’s shop and that’s really how I got interested in racing,” Wolf remembers.

Growing up, Wolf spent many nights riding to races with Gene Schattschneider in this panel van.

Wolf’s personal driving career began in quarter midgets, which in the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s was a big deal in the Algona area. “My uncle Dick [Wolf] kept that quarter midget running and I really learned a lot. We were fortunate enough to be the track champion that last year [of quarter midget racing in Algona] in 1972.” Wolf said.

“We went to all of Gene’s [Schattschneider] races that we could and followed his son Kyle when he raced stock cars until the [Algona] track closed in 1975. I then got busy with family and our business until the track reopened in the mid-80’s,” he said.

There was a direct connection between the Algona Fire Department and the racing scene in town. “I served on the fire department in the early ‘80’s (and beyond) and so was Steve Krapp, Kyle Schattschneider, Dave Hanselman, Bud Peterson, Kent and Bill Holcomb, Gene Schattschneider and Jim Utt.” Every name on that list is in the Kossuth County Racing Hall of Fame. A testament to their impact on the track and in the community.

An early Wolf race car, with a wing on this night.

The Algona track closed after the 1975 season and when it reopened in 1986, Steve Krapp was instrumental in its resurgence. The track raced hobby stock-type cars and ATV’s. Wolf’s Coast to Coast store sponsored a car owned by Bill Cook and John Simpson. “I filmed and did interviews at the racetrack for two to three years just after the track reopened and was on Dick Manske’s pit crew. We’d take those videos from the track and play them at Pep’s [bar] after the races. The track was back going strong again and it was a lot of fun.” Wolf said.

“In 1993, I was 33 years old and started racing with a 1979 Monte Carlo. Randy Bjustrom, Steve Hempel and Dan Muller and I all took turns driving. It was Rick Elbert’s previous car and we won some races in this 400 Chevy, four-barrel car.”

In 1994 Wolf was the sole driver of the car and a year later he bought a new Terminator Chassis stock car from Mark Elliott. “Of to the races we went,” said Wolf. “We went on to win 37 features in four short years at three different tracks. Mark Elliott and I really clicked. He helped me a lot during that time.”

At Algona, Wolf amassed several feature wins, including the 1997 Schattschneider Memorial and a run of three out of four July 4th races. “Those Fourth of July events were big for me. I was on the fire department at the time and after I won those races, I’d have to change into a different type of fire suit and help the department set off the fireworks after the races.”

Wolf after winning the Night of 1000 Stars at the Hancock County Speedway.

He also had significant success at the Hancock County Speedway, in Britt, IA, winning the 1996 Night of 1000 Stars for IMCA Stock Cars and won the 1997 season championship race there.

Wolf sold his stock car at the conclusion of 1998 and took a year off from racing. He returned in 2000 to race and just missed the point title in Algona, finishing a close second to Bruce Wickman. At the end of that year, he sold the car to Ryan Watnem, who campaigned it successfully until 2006.

Wolf then helped his son Austin start ATV racing, where Austin won a couple ATV championships before starting his own IMCA Stock Car and Modified career. To date, Austin has surpassed his dad’s win total in Algona and claimed the 2012 IMCA Modified season title here.

Wolf’s legacy goes much deeper than just as a driver, or helping his son be a successful racer. There are countless drivers in North Iowa that lean Wolf for advice. One such example is fellow 2023 inductee, Dan Haugland.

“What really got us going was that we learned more about the cars as we went and lined ourselves up with the right people. Ed Wolf really taught us a lot about how to set up a car. He was so instrumental in getting us in the right direction,” Haugland said. Even today, there are many more examples of Wolf helping local racers get better and sometimes putting a little sponsorship money their way.