Eckelberg family to retire from competitive racing after 35 years

To date, the Eckelberg family racing team has competed at 653 race nights, has won 99 races and has received 65 awards, according to a press release.

WEST SALEM (WKBT) — For 35 years, members of the Eckelberg family race team have competed at the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway on numerous occasions.

On Saturday night, members of the Eckelbergs’ racing team will compete at the speedway one last time.

“It’s going to be a good night but it’s going to be a tough night,” said Curt Eckelberg, who raced competitively from 1988 to 2015. “It’s going to be hard to say goodbye,” he added.

Throughout the years, many drivers have been part of the Eckelbergs’ racing fleet. Curt’s son and daughter, Jonathan Eckelberg and Mandi McKinney, took up the sport in their teen years.

To date, Eckelberg family racing has competed at 653 race nights, having won 99 races and received 65 awards, according to a press release.

As he transitions out of racing, Jonathan Eckelberg has been appointed to the position of Director of the High School Racing Association. The organization, founded in 2020, seeks to give youth more economical ways to enter stock-car racing, according to its website.

Despite retiring from racing, the Eckelberg family plans to stay involved with the racing community in the La Crosse area.

In 2020, the family founded a scholarship to help students who are involved with the sport. It was created in honor of Chloe Kay Eckelberg, Jonathan Eckelberg’s daughter, who died unexpectedly at 9 months old.

“Everybody supports Chloe and we hope to keep this going for years,” Curt Eckelberg said.

Looking back on 35 years of commitment to auto racing as a family, Kim Eckelberg, Curt’s wife, said she was content.

“We were more than happy to be there,” she said.

Justin Mullikin, who’s been racing for almost 20 years, is not a member of the Eckelberg family but he’s on their racing team.

On Friday, he described the experience of being on the team and supporting the local racing community as “fulfilling.”

“It makes you feel good because you know you have a bunch of people behind you,” he said.