Jason Schuler / Joe Wood
Tanya Hall / Dawn Pass
Jimmy Lauder / Pro Power
What does QKA stand for?
“Q” - Kathy Luedtke (Mom) is the Queen
“K” - Rob Luedtke (Dad) is the King
“A” - Austin Luedtke (Son) is “the Ace”
What’s the history?
Austin was interested in becoming a “Navy Blue Angel” as a young boy. He began taking flying lessons at West Bend, WI, Fond du lac, WI, and Davenport, IA airports. Hence the nick name, “the Ace”. We occasionally spent Sunday afternoons at Slinger Speedway watching the races. Austin met Brad Mueller and James Swan. He looked up to both drivers, and they treated him very well. His interest grew and he told us he would like to drive a Slinger “B”. Swan was an impressive driver, so Luedtke & Associates, one of our other companies, committed to a small sponsorship to learn more about motorsports marketing. Though we absolutely adored Bradley “JJ” Mueller, we felt he was out of our league. Mueller was a big deal, so we continued talking. The fall of 2006, we went to Slinger to get a rule book with the idea of building a car over the winter. We realized it would be easier to buy rather than build. An orange Honda CRX with yellow #’s was delivered to our shop the next day. The summer of 2007, Austin turned 14. Brad Mueller picked up “the Ace” and took him to the high banks of Slinger Speedway to turn his first practice laps. Racing was a mixed bag of experiences. A hobby at best. We did not know what we were doing. We weren’t a racing family. Then things started to change. Austin came to us and said, “We have a problem”. What’s the problem? “Stalkers”, he replied. It appeared some young ladies got his picture and printed T-shirts. We informed him, “Those are fans not stalkers”. The Fan Club began.
What’s with the motto?
Late season 2008 we ran our normal Sunday race. After, Austin asked to run the 75 lap enduro with the big V-8 cars. Against our better judgment, we prepped the car and told him when he felt he had had enough, pull off. He never pulled off. Kathy and I sat in the stands, watching total insanity on the track. Smoking cars and crashes and the little orange #6 would just keep popping out of every melee. As we watched, I thought about Austin’s grandparents, my parents, they were both deceased by the time Austin was 2. I squeezed Kathy’s hand and said, “He’s flying on the Wings of Angels”. He finished 3rd. Running to the pits after, we saw the crowd of drivers and officials congratulating him. He was still in the car, helmet off, spent in the seat, and we made eye contact. There it was, The Look. The bug had bit him. Our son was going to be a race car driver. In that instant our lives turned left. We knew, life as we knew it was over and this was going to become our mission. We were venturing into the unknown and going on faith that this was all happening for a reason. “On the Wings of Angels we strive for Excellence with God as our Co-Pilot” was born and became QKA’s motto. Later that fall “the Ace” was strapped into the, 4 time, Mid-American Stock Car Series Championship car of James Swan for practice & training. QKA bought the car and James, one of Austin’s childhood heroes, became his mentor. In 2009, he won his first race, took 2nd in the Nationals, and finished 2nd in the “Rookie of the Year point standings”. “The Ace” was Livin’ the Dream.
What happened next?
Austin was improving quickly & showing promise. We needed information, experience, and expertise. We needed it fast. We asked Mueller to lead the way, but, due to circumstances beyond his control, he couldn’t commit. Enter, “Lightning” Lowell Bennett. We talked, he could, he would, and he did. We had a team. We were blessed with a great crew, and worked our tails off 7 days a week, sometimes 20 hours/day. It was fast paced, exhilarating, and exhausting, but it was working. 2010 was a success. QKA bought Mueller’s #89 Lefthander Super late, and “the Ace” brought home “Rookie of the Year” honors from the world’s fastest ¼ mile in that Super late. He also gained multiple track experience in the Mid-Am car by qualifying in at the tracks we visited. Bennett’s #2 team won everything except the track Championship at WIR, finished 2nd. What a year! A season of total domination (SOTD). Looking to the future, lack of expertise, exhaustion and funding were going to become road blocks in the progression toward our goals.
Fall 2010, we took “the Ace” to California to test him against other young talent in North America. Results: We had a Wheel Man. Joe & Jason, from Pathfinder Chassis, committed to take over Austin’s development. Spring Valley stepped into the ASA Truck as title sponsor. Principal Financial Group, Liquid Ice Energy Drinks, & Tinman Merchandizing swung the sponsorship bat on the 2011 Ford Fusion Super Late, and many local businesses filled the funding and supply gap. (See picture and sponsorship section for links). As the 2011 season progressed, it became apparent that things were changing. It started when, at the last minute, Lowell Bennett suggested Austin drive his #2L back up Super Late at Slinger. The #2L was leased, 4 new tires, 3 practice laps on stickers, qualified it in, excellent results. “The Ace” found his “Wings”. He wasn’t driving fast, he was “Flyin’ Low”. We had great equipment, a consistent crew, and a very competent crew chief. The series of events that followed, set in stone our commitment to “the Ace” to take him the distance. “Rookie of the Year” at Wisconsin International Raceway (WIR) in the Super Late. A feature Win in the truck. His 1st Fast time qualifying. Qualified 10th for the 50th Annual Tony Bettenhausen Classic 100 Lap event at Illiana, IN. Ran his 1st CRA race at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. “Rookie of the Year” in the ASA Midwest Tour Truck series. Hard charger award winner. Tied in the points battle for the Championship in the ASA Trucks. Lots of Top 5’s & 10’s.