Local racer gets back to racing years after losing his father, crew chief to cancer

Doug Rodanhisler racing at Berlin Raceway this weekend
Doug Rodanhisler ready to race after losing his father
Posted at 7:38 PM, Aug 06, 2021

NORTH DORR, Mich. — Racing was one of the things that brought Doug Rodanhisler and his father, Jim, closer together.

"Over the years, we were going to the short tracks together," Doug said. "It'd be a Friday night and hey let's go check out Berlin, Kalamazoo or Crystal, something to that effect."

Doug Rodanhisler set to return to the race track

Their love for racing would grow into getting their own outlaw late model in the mid 2000s, which led to countless hours together in the shop, growing their relationship even deeper.

"It's almost going to bring a tear to a guy's eye, it's been a lot of great times but some struggles," Doug chuckled. "Every father and son, you have some moments of angst if you will, but we've always come together and solved a lot of problems and had a lot of fun doing it."

Doug Rodanhisler with his father, Jim
Doug Rodanhisler (right) next to his father, Jim after a night working on the race car.

Unfortunately, Jim Rodanhisler lost his battle with cancer in September 2017, leaving Doug without his crew chief but, more importantly, his father.

Doug made sure to fulfill one final bucket list item for his dad before he passed.

"Prior to him dying there was one final request that he made, it was, 'Come on I want you to see you race one last time,' so we made it to Kalamazoo Speedway and won a heat race that night," Doug recalled.

Since his father's passing, Rodanhisler has only taken to the track once which for the Kalamazoo Klash back in 2018.

Doug would run around 40 laps before having some mechanical trouble, ending his night.

"The only reason we had those problems were because dad wasn't there to work on the car and look everything over."

Jim Rodanhisler
Jim Rodanhisler celebrates a heat victory at Kalamazoo Speedway.

Since then, Doug's car has sat in his barn, collecting dust with racing on the back burner.

"Oh gosh, racing wasn't even on my mind after he passed," Doug told FOX 17. "Every time I'm out here and look at that car, I'm not going to lie, I shed a tear. I'm missing dad out here."

Despite all that hardship over the past few years, Rodanhisler is wiping the dust away and with the help of his family and friends, is ready to race at Berlin Raceway on Saturday after Kalamazoo Speedway was rained out on Friday.

Doug Rodanhisler gets set to return to racing
Doug Rodanhisler works on his car, preparing to return to Berlin Raceway on Saturday.

"There's that force pulling me to get back out there and go do it and yeah, I'm going to be thinking of him every lap."

No matter where he finishes, those around him are just happy to see Doug back where he belongs - in a race car.

You can watch Rodanhisler in his No. 76 outlaw late model on Friday night at Kalamazoo during a 40-lap feature and at Berlin on Saturday night during a 100-lap feature.