Giving Back: Truckin’ For a Cause

Amalee Mueller is someone who drag racing fans at National Hot Rod Diesel Association (NHRDA) events have been hearing a lot about over the past few years. This has been especially true during the current 2018 racing season.

In a sport dominated by men, this female has been making a name for herself. She’s been leading NHRDA’s Pro Stock and Limited Pro Stock sled-pulling classes in points all year. She’s also near the top of the leader board in points in the Super Diesel class of NHRDA’s Hot Shot’s Secret Diesel Racing series. But Mueller’s story is much more than girl-races-with-the-boys. This one involves a dreaded disease that many Americans have been touched by, her mom and a unique partnership between Mueller and a product with a story all its own.

In 2008, Amalee’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the beginning of what would become a long journey connected with her mother’s treatment and subsequent recovery, Mueller and her father, Edgar, went to their first truck pull competition. This was also right around the time when she first got her driver’s license and decided that her vehicle of choice wasn’t going to be some foo-foo girl’s ride — no, she settled on a three-quarter-ton Dodge Ram with a 5.9-liter twin turbo. Father and daughter also entered the truck in her first pull. She said that “she’s been hooked ever since,” and she’s acquired additional rides.

“I didn’t want to tear-up my daily driver, the Dodge, by pulling with it,” Mueller said. “We ended up finding an old snow plow truck from Ohio with over 300,000 miles on it. This one had a similar engine. We had to tear it all apart, and this is where I learned a lot about taking a truck apart and putting it back together.”

Mueller told about how at Christmas that year, she got what she thought was a strange gift.

“There was a big box, and I wondered what was in it,” she laughed. “When I opened it, there was a welding helmet and welding gloves. I looked over at my mom, because I thought maybe she mislabeled it and I got my dad’s gift.”
The gift was for Amalee.

“I was going to learn how to weld. I’ve welded nearly all of the brackets and add-ons,” she said.

Mueller said, as her mother was going through cancer treatment, she was always on her mind. Mueller began thinking of ways that connected racing to her mom’s disease and recovery, as well as something that could help others going through something similar with cancer.

“The first pull we did was at a ‘Pull for a Cure’ event. I began thinking that maybe there was a way to bridge racing with finding a cure,” Mueller said. “Of course, we had a pink lift kit on the truck, which made it stand out.”

From there, the idea of “Save the Racks” came from Mueller’s passion for hunting.

“I began hunting at age six. My logo, with the antlers incorporated with the ribbon, came from me shooting a 17-point white tail. The logo and name really caught on. We’ve gotten a lot of love from it,” she said.

The Pink Partnership

Mueller obviously has the talent as a driver. Each year, her results have improved. Being competitive, she’s set goals prior to every season, and in most cases, has hit her marks by the end of the racing calendar.

Lubrication Specialties, Inc. (LSI) is the manufacturer of Hot Shot’s Secret, a brand of specially formulated additives designed for gasoline and diesel fuel systems. In 2017, they joined NHRDA as a title sponsor, and Hot Shot’s Secret Extreme was the circuit’s Official Fuel Additive.

According to Kyle Fischer, LSI’s director of Marketing, the company was looking for ways to increase the visibility of their products during the 2018 NHRDA season. They began thinking about sponsoring a driver. In seeking out a driver, the company wanted someone who mirrored what they’ve been about as a company.

“We were new to this world, but it was easy to see that Amalee was a draw early on,” Fischer said. “She’s not physically imposing, but she’d quickly become a crowd favorite. The fans liked seeing Amalee kick the big boys’ butts.”

Fischer added that LSI is an Ohio-based company, which owner Chris Gabrelcik launched in the barn behind his house.

“Her trucks were built up here in Ohio. We had been forming a relationship with Firepunk Diesel, who had built Amalee’s Pro Stock truck. The partnership began falling into place,” Fischer said.

LSI wanted to support Mueller and her cause with more than just a sticker on her truck.

“At the end of 2017, we’d been talking a little bit — we knew she wanted to get the word out [about Save the Racks] more widely. She was getting some attention, but she wanted to do something bigger,” Fischer said.

From these conversations, a full sponsorship/partnership with Mueller was born. LSI helped her in redesigning the logo. Fischer said they wanted a sponsorship that would “get the crowd’s attention during the whole year.” He didn’t think simply giving Mueller a check at the end of the season was what they wanted to do. That’s also not what Mueller was looking for.

What they came up with was a plan to make a $50 donation every time the pink “Save the Racks” truck went down the track.

“With Amalee, she races in two different classes. When she goes down the quarter-mile, we make a donation for $50. Then, she races again in a qualifying race, we make another donation,” Fischer said.

So each time Mueller’s pink Super Diesel race truck makes a pass, $50 is donated by Hot Shot’s Secret. This also goes for each pass made by the family’s other “Save the Rack’s” Pro Stock truck, driven by Larson Miller from Firepunk Diesel.

The further Mueller makes it, the more money she earns for Save the Racks. According to Fischer, the “cherry on top” is if she knocks off the entire field. They make an additional $250 donation if she ends up as runner-up and a $500 donation if she comes in first place. In her very first race of the year back in May, Mueller earned $1,000.

All funds are donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Fischer said that halfway through the season, Mueller and LSI have raised more than $4,000.

“Our announcer, Scott, does such a great job building the anticipation by letting the crowd know where Amalee is during that day’s events in terms of sponsorship and promoting ‘Save the Racks,’ and it’s purpose — to raise awareness about cancer,” Fischer said. “For us and Amalee, that’s the main point in bringing attention to this campaign.”

Mueller doesn’t leave her heart for people on the track. She works full-time as a nurse, which speaks to her commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.

“There are so many people who have been touched by cancer,” Mueller said. “Being able to do something positive and help others going through their own personal battles has been meaningful to me.”

Jim Baumer

JIM BAUMER is a Maine-based writer who cares about people and the places that define them.