By all accounts, Bob Abitz’s first love was racing. He even promptly broke up with his high school girlfriend when she told him he needed to choose between her and his race car.
His next love, though, found him shortly thereafter and, for nearly 50 years, Bob’s devotion to his wife Lynn and the family they built together has encompassed and maybe even eclipsed his passion for racing.
These days Lynn and Bob Abitz are well known in the racing community, where Bob spent 21 years as a competitor and two and a half decades as an inspector and engine specialist for NASCAR and various other circuits.
They are avid supporters of Dirt Kings, a late model tour run by their daughter and son in-law Sandy and Jason Shultz.
“Racing has been a major part of our life,” Lynn said.
It started right from the first date they went on when they were both students at the University of Wisconsin – Stout.
“On our first date we must have talked 2 ½ hours,” Bob said. “That’s when I found out she didn’t know anything about racing.”
Fortunately, Lynn is a quick study.
“I knew if I wasn’t going to be on board with racing that was the end of it right there,” she said. They spent that summer and every summer after attending races.
Beyond racing, the young couple shared a connection based on their faith and a healthy sense of humor and fun. They worked hard in their careers – he as a technical education teacher at Freedom High School and she as a registered dietitian with Thedacare, and raised a family that remains close knit.
“He’s very supportive of whatever I do and he has a good sense of humor,” Lynn said. “He is also a really great grandpa.”
Early on in their marriage, Lynn and Bob agreed to never go to bed angry, a strategy they learned in a marriage class they took in college.
“We don’t have that many disagreements,” Bob said. “But, you just never know when God will call you home and if she gets called home and I’m still here, which I hope doesn’t happen, I don’t want to have any regrets about anything we’ve said to each other the night before.”
“Just be able to kiss each other good night and make sure you’re on good terms,” Lynn said.
A few years ago, a housing challenge highlighted the couples’ sense of humor and commitment to family.
“When our son Jay graduated from high school he informed us that he wanted to buy our house,” Bob said. “I didn’t pay much attention to that at the time but a few years later he got engaged. Then he quickly points out that ‘I am buying your house and you’re still living in it.’ I told him ‘You could live in the basement and you could just come upstairs if you want to have something to eat.’ But I knew we had to get serious about finding another house. Our daughter Sandy lived about 2.3 miles from our house. We drew a circle around where we had lived and we decided 10 to 15 minutes was the max so if any of them needed us for something we could be there in a relatively short time.”
Eventually, Bob and Lynn found a home with a nice workshop within the parameters they set, but they took their time moving out.
“We stayed in our house until the night of his wedding,” Bob said. “We spent the last night in our old house the night of his wedding and we said we promise we’ll be out when you get home from the honeymoon.”
Both Bob and Lynn are busy, active grandparents, supporting granddaughter Katelynn and grandsons Alex, Aaron and Jayce in all their many activities. They also run Freedom Synthetics, LLC, a small business they started six years ago.
They say they’re grateful for each other, their family and all of the fun they’ve had at the racetrack and they’re looking forward to more adventures ahead.