*This story was featured in the Hastings Tribune on June 25, 2016.
Secretary. Accountant. Marketer. Treasurer. Farmer. These are just a few of the hats Kim Hermann wears on a day-to-day basis.
Kim, 53, holds the job title of Secretary/Treasurer at KAM Raceway, but is more of a jack-of-all-trades, as compared to an ordinary secretary or treasurer.
“I do the secretarial stuff, so I count the money and get that deposited every week, I pay the bills, I do a lot,” Kim said. “The guys who usually end up president and vice president usually have jobs, and I can’t say that I don’t have a job because I help out a lot at the farm, too, but I have this free time to give back, and I think KAM is worth it.”
KAM Raceway, the only weekly mini sprint track in Nebraska, opened 37 years ago thanks to Charlie Reece and Dick Stelzer.
It has been a mainstay of the Hastings community ever since.
Highlights at the track have included the biggest race in its history in 1983 in the form of the Modified Midget Nationals. Now, it’s known for its Friday night races from the end of April through the end of August, including a roster of racers ranging 7 to nearly 60 years old.
Although KAM has experienced changes over the years, a few constants have remained.
“In high school, we would go out to KAM … us girls would go out there if some of the guys were racing,” Kim said. “KAM has been around, and it has gone through some changes, but some of those people who were there in the beginning are still around.”
Kim was introduced to racing during her adolescence, thanks to a babysitter who liked taking her to the racetrack near Doniphan.
Then, after spending her own Friday nights at KAM during her teenage years, she was a racing fan for life.
After getting married and starting a family, she made a point to keep racing in her life. Her family followed suit.
“To begin with, I think you have to like racing, and I grew up liking racing. Then, my husband liked it, too, so that was a common thing (for us),” Kim said. “We’ve taken family trips to NASCAR races and already had friends at KAM. Then from (son) Jeff deciding he wanted to race and actually going out there and doing it.”
While Kim is someone “everyone knows” at KAM, she isn’t the only Hermann who is a constant at the racetrack.
In fact, everyone in her family plays a role in the day-to-day tasks at the historic raceway.
Her son, Jeff, 26, is the president at KAM and has been racing for 11 years. Her husband, Gaylon, 54, volunteers and donates at the track, while also racing on Friday nights. Her youngest son, Walker, 19, is a consistent racer and spent much of his childhood at the track.
Jeff drives the No. 11 car in the winged 600cc sprint class. Gaylon drives the No. 23 car in the winged 600cc sprint class. Walker drives the No. 17 car in the non-wing 600cc sprint class.
With that being said, the Hermann name is certainly one spectators can’t go without hearing on any given Friday night.
“Anyone who comes out to watch a race night out at KAM would struggle to not hear the name Hermann at least three times,” Walker said. “KAM Raceway has become a piece of our family, as we’ve equally become part of the KAM Raceway family.”
Most families don’t have an activity that everyone enjoys, so racing is special to the Hermanns.
“It’s very nice and unique knowing that your family is going to be together on Friday nights,” Gaylon said. “And even though our sons are grown up, we still all enjoy doing this together.”
Aside from Kim’s immediate family, she also feels a sense of family from the racing community as a whole at KAM.
“KAM is definitely family,” she said. “A racing community is different than any other. KAM is very family-orientated, but when a group of guys is working on a car ready to race, it’s a group effort. If you win, you celebrate as a group.”
While she enjoys her time out at KAM week in and week out, the three-month season can take its toll. In fact, it can be a grind.
But for Hermann, she hasn’t let it get to that point yet.
“It hasn’t yet because it’s only my second year doing it,” she said. “But I suppose when the boys decide to quit I’ll quit, because we’re out there as a family.”
Even when Kim and her family decide to step away from the racetrack, she still thinks they won’t be able to stay away.
“It’s become very essential and important in our lives,” she said. “I know Walker is going to move on probably and I know Jeff is probably going to want to keep racing, but if we ever quit I’ll miss it and the people out there, and I could see us going out there and watching on Friday nights.”