The sign at Culver's read "TRY OUR FROZEN CUSTARD BUTTER BURGERS". As we drove by I told Ryan that a burger with frozen custard inside it sounded like a terrible idea. He chuckled and said "No they aren't together. They are two separate menu items." Then he proceeded to enlighten me on what the legacy of frozen custard means to Wisconsinites. I was a newbie that still had a lot to learn about Wisconsin.
Ryan Kapustanczek is the newbie member of King's staff. As in most organizations, "new kid" status applies for the mandatory 6 months (or until another newer hire is made, whichever comes first), so it was no accident that Ryan was assigned to the humble but important task of picking up all of the rented furniture and electronics for Dyno Day 2011. We were traveling around town in King's massive green pickup that pulls double duty as a gopher-mobile as well as a snow plow in the winter. We had Jude's trailer in tow. By the time we were done, every square inch of our cargo space had been consumed by folding chairs, tables and that giant screen everyone would gather around to watch dyno results.
I hitched a ride with Ryan that day for the errands. I was like the junior rookie assigned to the senior rookie. As new as Ryan may be to King, he's no slouch when it comes to Hondas, so I rode along as his iPhone navigator and picked his brain.
What do you do at KMS?
I would say my job title would be Mechanic. Right now I am doing a lot of learning from Mike, Tim, and Chad. I am currently doing the basic things on the cars like bolt-ons but I also am like the middle man or prep guy. For example I pull the engine, then Chad rebuilds it then I put it back in and then Tim dynos it. And the more I am there the more I learn and the more I can do.
How did you first get connected with KMS?
Well I heard about King Motorsports through word of mouth basically so when I graduated from school I contacted Scott (King's CEO). That was summer 2007 and at the time they were switching locations. Understandably he told me at the time they didn't need extra help. Then for the next four years I emailed and called and pretty much bugged them for an interview. I then went for the interview in May 2011 and Scott offered me a job shortly after.
What kind of jobs did you have before King?
Well I have worked as a car porter/detailer at two different local dealerships, one being a Honda one. I have also recently worked at two different dealerships as a lube technician as well as doing some minor maintenance work. In between I have also done some retail, delivery, and some warehouse work too.
Are you getting hazed for being the new guy?
A little, nothing major though. Just some jokes here and there to give me a hard time.
Is there anything in particular you like about working on Hondas instead of other makes?
I would say the simple yet great engineering in them.
They are simple because they are not over-engineered. Things are easy to get to and when you look at them it just makes sense. Having worked at dealerships and around cars quite a bit, I've been able to see a lot of other cars. Sometimes you look at a car and you have think to yourself 'why would they do that?' or 'why would they put that there?' -- it just does not make sense sometimes.
Honda's great engineering is a no brainer. They build things right and reliable.
Did you have any formal or informal training/education regarding automobiles? Did you have any specializations?
I do, first I took all the automotive classes at my high school except the body shop. I would have taken welding too but they cancelled that class before I could. After high school I enrolled into Wyotech, an automotive-only trade school. It was a lot of fun. It was like the whole college experience, without all the regular classes. While I was there I studied basic automotive technology and then specialized in high performance engines, chassis fabrication, and trim & upholstery.
Do you have any racing background?
Unfortunately the only background I have in racing is purely as a spectator. Although I do hope to change that in the near future, I plan to start off in the solo events at Miller Park.
Do you have any personal project cars that you’ve built for yourself?
I do have a project that I have just started this last month. It is a 1985 Toyota Corolla GTS. It's the last body style where they came RWD. I know it isn’t a Honda but I have always liked them and I was not even looking for one, but it kind of fell into my lap and the deal was too good to pass up. It’s the car I plan on doing the solo events with, but I am mainly building it as just a fun street car.
If you could go back in time and meet the founders of Honda, what would you ask them?
I would be curious about the business side of what they did. Mostly about what made them get into the automobile market? They already had a great thing going with the motorcycles. Was it inevitable to move onto cars? Just kind of get a feel for what their thoughts on some of the decisions they made.
Do you regularly attend any car shows or other auto events?
Yes, I regularly go to the Import Wars drag racing events at Great Lakes Dragaway in Union Groove. I also attend quite a lot of car shows. All the big local ones and I even travel down to Chicago for a few every once in a while. I love going to these events because I really like to see the work that people put into their cars. To me it doesn’t matter what kind of car it is, if the work put into is done well then I can appreciate it.
If you weren’t working on cars for a living, what would you be doing?
That’s tough because cars is all I have ever being really interested in. But if I had to think of something I am sure it would have to do with computers like a designer or a programmer of some kind.
Do you have a dream car?
To be honest I have tons. It is so hard to choose one, because some of them are not your regular dream car. They are just project cars that I would like to do at some point in my life. At any one time I have probably ten project cars in my mind and they are always changing. To give you an answer on more of a tradition dream car: of course the NSX is on there but I have always loved the Ferrari F40. I mean that thing is a pure production race car.
What is your daily driver? Is it true it’s an automatic?!
You had to bring that up. Yes right now my current daily driver is an automatic. It is a 1997 Integra LS. I have plans to change that by winter though so if anyone is looking for an automatic Integra probably as another daily or a shell let me know.
Xbox or Playstation?
Xbox for sure.