Numerals can't define people, but 3 and 58 go a long way in describing Bloomington resident Kim John Crumb. The 58 refers to the number of road racing championships he's won. But the 3 is more important, he says, because it represents the passions shaping his life - music, racing and cars (counted as one), and education. A race driver who says he's never wrecked a car, Crumb is currently combining racing, cars and education to help our troops have fun learning about safe driving.
Raised on a southern Minnesota farm that's been in his family for 130 years, Crumb earned a degree at the University of Minnesota before pursuing passion one by opening an audio store. A meeting with Bobby Rahal and sponsorship of a race at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) reawakened passion two and he decided to try racing. When he learned that this area's Nord Stern Porsche club sponsored races, he bought a Porsche, got some driving school instruction and started racing - and winning. His first championship, in 1984, was the National Porsche Parade, which he's now won 11 times.
Crumb says he "wanted to find out how good I could be at racing," so, at 32, he "threw his hat over the fence," sold his store and made racing his profession. Once he got a sponsor (he's had all the major tiremakers as sponsors; currently it's Pirelli), championships followed. Local clubs (Nord Stern, Land O Lakes Sports Car Club of America chapter, Corvettes of Minnesota, etc.) awarded more than 20; another 11 are Florida sprint kart titles.
From 1995 to 2000, his minimum annual championship number was five and he once won nine. National titles included wins in BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche series, and the overall title at the 1995 Virginia City Hill Climb, where he raced a harrowing course between a cliff and a wall. Among the records he still holds is the fastest lap at BIR in a genuine street car with street tires (1:46.67).
Crumb says his full-time racing life - he still does a few events each year - wasn't exactly the jet-setting glamour life. He cut corners to make money. He drove race cars to about 50 annual events, for example, sometimes cross-country. He might arrive, put on race tires, compete in the race, replace the street tires and drive home or to another race. "You do events your sponsor wants you to do," he explains. "The company's goals are your goals. It's like most jobs - creating good results at a cost that makes sense."
That meant forgoing races like the 24 Hours of Daytona, but he had compensations. He drove great natural-terrain road courses like Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta. A Michelin official created a "Kim Wall" at company headquarters, consisting of photos of the cars Crumb raced for that sponsor. He also says he raced enough "to see how good I could be, winning consistently with cars other people couldn't win with."
He's now avidly pursuing passion three, education. His goal is to "build champions off track" at seminars and volunteers for the Operation Wheels of Freedom Foundation (OWOF), which he helped found after receiving a 2004 e-mail from an Army Reserve captain requesting that he bring his Porsche 928 to a base. With help from "car guy" friends and cars donated by GM, Chrysler and Ford, OWOF sent experienced drivers to four U.S. bases, where they showed service men and women how to drive high-performance cars safely.
Twenty-five bases now want the program. Whenever Crumb thinks he's spending too much time on the project, he remembers the Marine Corps citation he received praising his efforts for soldiers - including the 47-year-old captain (now major) who's back in Iraq - who sacrifice so much.
As for his future, Crumb says he'll "follow my passions all out. It's just my nature."