NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Kyle Rohleder drives his golf cart across the track as Cody Gearhart grabs a ride Sunday at WaKeeney Speedway.
There was a choice: Horace Grant or the Hamburglar.
Kyle Rohleder, perhaps out of lack of options, chose Horace Grant.
Those were the two options Cody Gearhart gave for a nickname for Rohleder recently.
The nickname comes from the goggles Rohleder wears underneath his helmet to keep dirt from his eyes while circling the track. They are somewhat similar to the likes Grant wore while playing for the Chicago Bulls years ago.
Hamburglar? Well, Gearhart says he's seen his friend chow down on cheeseburger after cheeseburger after cheeseburger -- after cheeseburger.
"I'd say the Horace Grant is pretty funny," Rohleder said. "That's a good one. Only that jackwad could think of something like that."
Now you get a glimpse of the friendship between the two modified drivers.
That strong relationship began a few years ago when Gearhart, from Turpin, Okla., offered a car to Rohleder to drive when he was without one.
Now, the two are perhaps the only drivers in western Kansas who run GRT chassis.
"I let him borrow a car, and I kind of got to know him," said Gearhart, who drives the No. 1m. "He was probably better than me in it. He can drive a race car, that's for sure. And his dad is one heck of a guy. He works his butt off -- both of them do. And my help works hard. They're just good people."
The strong bond has showcased a bit of everything for the two and their families. And some stories, well, they can't be retold.
"He's a ton of fun," Rohleder said. "And his whole group is just a blast to hang out with. They're just awesome people."
Gearhart regularly stays at the Rohleder family's house in WaKeeney when making the trip north. Such was the case last weekend, when Gearhart stayed at Rohleder's abode during three nights of racing.
"We're alike," Rohleder said. "I'd say we come from the same kind of background of our folks. We just click -- always have."
Fun is what it's all about for the two and their families and crew. But when it comes time to compete, it's serious business.
"Being we are the only two guys even in western Kansas, that I know of, that have the same GRT car, we do throw stuff back and forth with each other," said Rohleder, who drives the No. 0. "He has his own shock program now where he builds his own stuff. If he wants you to try something out, he'll tell you. He knows he's going to be pretty good. And I ain't scared to try something, especially if he says to try it. Having the same car and being the only two we can talk to, it makes it so nice and awesome to have somebody else to talk and converse with."
But it doesn't stop there. In fact, Rohleder said it goes beyond just talk -- and into the realm of singing.
That might give Rohleder some ammunition to break out a Patrick Swayze nickname for Gearhart.
"It's just cool having another guy like that you can talk to and trust," Rohleder said. "He's open and honest. He's an open book."
"He's just a great guy," Gearhart said. "We help each other. It ain't even about racing. He's just a good guy."
By NICK SCHWIEN