BRUNSWICK — Lou L. Sattelmaier was known for his 33 years on the national auto racing circuit as well as for his involvement in drug prevention.
Sattelmaier, 74, died Monday of multiple system atrophy, a disease similar to Parkinson’s, said his son, John.
The Brunswick resident and his wife of 47 years, Florence Elaine, raised five children together and some comprised his racing support crew when he traveled around the country from 1971 to 2004.
Elaine said she always thought racing was something her husband “would outgrow,” but they shared so “many, many wonderful experiences together” and had a good life traveling around the country as a family.
Son Robert Sattelmaier, a Wellington resident who was a teenager in 1984, begged to travel with his father, she said. Elaine said she was supposed to home school Bob, but when that didn’t work out, he earned his general equivalency diploma so he could tag along with his dad.
That same year, Sattelmaier turned his racing passion into a business for himself.
“We never knew where the money was going to come from,” Elaine said. “When we bought the first (race car), we had $18 in our bank account and five loans.”
As soon as those loans were paid off, “he went and got another one,” she said.
Sattelmaier loved having his family around him, “whether they were helping or not” as crew members, said John Sattelmaier, a Brunswick resident.
Sattelmaier also is survived by son, William Sattelmaier of Olmsted Falls; daughters, Lisa Sattelmaier of Brunswick and Suzanne Berrios of Lorain; and 12 grandchildren.
“We prayed before every race,” Elaine said. “The Lord was involved in all of that. Things all came together,” she said.
The Lou Sattelmaier Racing Co., operated out of his Ruth Drive home, dissolved in 2006, according to state business records.
He then turned his attention to speaking out about drugs at more than 800 schools.
Sattelmaier told The Gazette in May 2005 he got a kick out of his race car and how students reacted to it.
His message to Hickory Ridge Elementary School students at the time was that winners don’t use drugs or alcohol.
“He would bring a good draw” when he would bring out his trailer, hauling his jet-fueled funny car, Brunswick police Sgt. Dave Zeuter said. “It got people more involved with the talks.”
Under the command of former Police Chief Patrick Beyer, Sattelmaier was allowed to speak as a police department representative and had a Brunswick Police Department emblem on his trailer in the late 1980s and early ’90s, Zeuter said.
“He had such love for the kids,” Elaine said. “He used to do the Cleveland Auto Show in downtown Cleveland, and ran into a man who said, ‘Hey, I know you! You’re the Lou Sattelmaier who came to my school when I was a kid,’ and he had a child of his own with him. Kids warmed his heart.”
Sattelmaier was a soft-spoken, never boastful man whose selfless ways touched so many lives, John Sattelmaier said.
Sattelmaier also worked with the Ohio Highway Patrol posts in Medina, Ashland and Lorain counties in getting his message out.
He served in the Army Reserves, starting with six months during the late ’50s or early ’60s at Fort Knox, Ky., and “two weeks during the summer” afterward, said Elaine, who was dating Sattelmaier at the time.
John Sattelmaier said that back then, his father bought his mother a timer for the phone.
We talked “quite a bit,” said Elaine, who still has the timer.
“You know how I knew he loved me?” she said. He left his 1955 black and white Oldsmobile convertible with her when he went away, even though she had her own car at the time.
“Gee, that was cool,” she said.
Toward the end of his life, Sattelmaier’s neurodegenerative health condition slowed him down considerably, Elaine said, and family rallied around him once more.
Hospice of Medina County “really helped my mother out,” John Sattelmaier said. “Everyone was able to say goodbye, and they really helped us all grieve.”
“I can’t praise them enough,” Elaine said. “They’re very good people.”
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to Hospice of Medina County, 797 N. Court St., Medina.
Visiting hours are 6 to 8 p.m. today and 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Waite & Son Funeral Home, 3300 Center Road, Brunswick. The service is at 10 a.m. Monday at the funeral home.
Contact Audrey McCrone at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.