Racing has been a family affair for Donny Schatz from the time he climbed into a sprint car for the first time at the age of 15 at the Grand Forks Speedway which Danny got lined up for him. It is no secret that Donny’s passion for racing stems from his father, Danny, who raced regionally around North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Thunder Bay, Ontario in the 1970s.
The most unique part of Danny’s career in racing didn’t come from something he did behind the wheel. Through a connection in racing, Danny found an opportunity in the truck stop business.
“He was working on the railroad and then as an ironworker and eventually figured out that if you’re going to get anywhere, you need to be involved in a business. Through a friend and sponsor, it led him to get into the truck stop business. That’s how Schatz Crossroads was founded,” explained Donny. “It was more the racing side of things bringing him into the business world than the business world bringing him into racing.”
In most cases, it is the other way around.
After a career that spanned the better part of a decade, Danny hung up the helmet in the late 1970s.
In 1993, it was Donny’s turn to strap in behind the wheel of a sprint car. The car was painted black with Schatz Crossroads proudly displayed on the top wing and the hood in gold. The number was 15 – just like Danny’s.
“My dad’s love for racing is what got me into it. He would bring me to the Knoxville Nationals or the World of Outlaws show in Fargo. That’s where the love and the itch came from to be around it. It was obviously something he enjoyed and it got passed down to me,” Donny explained. “My dad was everything when it came to getting me started. His connection to Doug Slocum (one of the winningest sprint car crew chiefs in North Dakota) in the early 1990s is what got us going.
“Here we are, many years later. We’ve made a hell of a career with ten World of Outlaw championships and ten Knoxville Nationals championships and have had a great time with it. There have been disagreements over the years, but, man, the high points have definitely outweighed all the bad days by a mile.”