The racing community has lost a family member. 24 year old Kaleb “Trunk Monkey” Miller went to the best race track in the world this week, this after a bad snowmobile accident last weekend. Surrounded by family and friends, Kaleb left us Wednesday with two images that will last forever. His heart and smile.
I only knew Kaleb and his family for 8 years, but they were a close 8 years. I went to grade school with momma, Denise.
Kaleb and his brothers Dakota and Brad Warthan, followed in the footsteps of their father BIlly, racing and making names for themeselves through western Wisconsin. Dakota "The Kid" raced Thunderstocks and did stunts and while his brother, "Bad" Brad Warthan, who ran Thunderstocks, will try his luck at the rookie of the year title in the Sportsmen class at the La Crosse Speedway in 2014. Billy ran for years at the Sparta/Tomah Speedway and the La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Kaleb ran door to door with and against both brothers for over 10 years locally in the Hornet and Thunderstocks divisions. Brothers off the track, competitors on. Billy, past track champion and wife, Denise, always "on the hill" rooting their sons to victory. And BIlly of course always showing me his favorite beer of choice down below while I was stuck with a trusty bottle of water. Denise always blowing me a kiss before the races started.
Racing nicknames don't mean a whole lot to some, but to Kaleb, the name "Trunk Monkey" was not only a fan favorite, but his favorite. About 4 years ago during a roll over competition, Kaleb had rolled a car onto it's roof, crushing it so bad that he couldn't get out. After several minutes of track safety crews thinking safety first, Dakota came running through the pits to the crumpled car. He smashed out the back window and pulled Kaleb out, somewhat through the trunk of the car. When I knew everyone was safe, I announced to the crowd....." And here folks is the Trunk Monkey, Kaleb Miller." I think, while at the hospital with his family and friends, I heard that name used more then his REAL name.
Kaleb, was loved in the pits as names like Critter ( Chris Sampson), The Joker ( Harley Jankowski), Double 8 (David Cavin) and others were always around the famed 08 cars. Never an argument, that I saw, just friends helping friends do what they loved. And beer of course, Lot's of beer. Miller High Life.
As we get set for another exciting race season at the La Crosse Speedway, The Trunk Monkey pitstall will still be there. Another driver parked in it. Friends all around. No matter what kind of car it is, what division it is and what number it is, the 08 will always be parked there. With Dakota, Brad, drivers and family always knowing that spot.
So when you walk in the pits this year, smile. Smile at the Trunk Monkey. Because I know damn well, he will be smiling at you. He always did. And he always will. Smile. - Dan Deicher La Crosse Speedway Track Announcer
R.I.P. KALEB L. MILLER.
Services will be Saturday, February 15th at the United Methodist Church, Sparta, with Jeff Burrows officiating. Family and friends are invited to call from 9 a.m. until time of services Saturday at the church. Online condolences may be offered at www.schanhoferfh.com. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred. The Lanham-Schanhofer Funeral Home, Sparta, is assisting the family with arrangements.