Custom Car Crafters makes cancer-stricken young Army Captain’s Race Car Wish come true
Bob Kinney Words & Photos
Custom Car Crafters of Austin honored Army Military Captain Jeremy Linn by making his wish come true – Big Time – during the recent National Autorama Hot Rod show in the second weekend of January 2014 in Austin.
Captain Linn, a 32-year-old military officer who has served in El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the US for the past 12 years, has stage four gastric cancer brought on he believes by inhaling the toxic fumes from the many US-controlled fires of God Knows What during the early years of the Iraq War.
Richard Wood – Custom Car Crafter’s owner – and Nina Skrhak – his assistant – wanted to find an amazing charitable organization to donate all its company’s sale of shop merchandise during the premier three day Austin Autorama show in downtown Austin – whose main sponsor and organizer was Custom Car Crafters.
The letter written by spouse Frishta about her husband wanting to drive a fast race car, was posted on the Dallas-based Operation Once in a Lifetime website. “It touched the hearts of me, Richard, everyone of our 35 employees, as well as all of CCC’s affiliates and customers,” said Skrhak. “With a team in place we had but one goal – make sure the weekend was an unforgettable experience for Jeremy and Frishta,” she said.
The company flew Jeremy and Frishta to Austin from Fort Worth, Texas, and put the couple up at a hotel for the weekend.
Jeremy and Frishta then hung out at the Custom Car Crafters booth at Autorama in the Palmer Events Center on Friday and Saturday. Jeremy sat behind the wheel of the many show cars and met Car TV personalities like Danielle Colby and Courtney Hanson.
Richard Wood founded Custom Car Crafters in 1984.
The 6819 McNeil Road headquarters contains several car related businesses in a 30,000 square foot complex and employs 35 persons. My son Dennis Kinney, Nina’s partner for 1.5 years, is operations manager there. The business has a southern site at 1009 Shelby Lane.
Jeremy was told he would be driven down to Tim Self’s Central Texas Speedway in Kyle south of Austin on Sunday morning where he could drive a Dodge Viper around the track. That was a gentle ruse. Turns out Jeremy was driven down to Kyle in the Viper. Spouse Frishta drove there in a Nissan GTR.
When both arrived in Kyle Jeremy was told that professional driver Chris would drive him around the track in a NASCAR side-by-side 600-horse-power racecar owned by Tim Self.
Jeremy was fitted with a racing helmet and strapped into the passenger side with Chris driving. I stood along the track to photograph Jeremy’s Joy and the sound was more than deafening each time they passed me. The car then returned to the garage and Jeremy came out with a Big Ass Smile on his face. Then Frishta was strapped in and repeated the ride with Chris.
Jeremy’s Fun was not over.
Amir Rostami, a Custom Car Crafters customer, was at the Speedway with his Ferrari two-seat convertible. He let Jeremy drive it back to the Palmer Center – I assume Jeremy drove more than the 70mph speed limit more than a few times.
Jeremy’s Fun – once again – was not over.
Skrhak had contacted the office of Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell about Jeremy’s story and got an immediate response — yes, the mayor will be there. The City of Austin has long assisted returning veterans who had been or would become city employees.
Jeremy was woken from a nap and entered the Awards site where some 300 folks were seated.
Dennis Kinney told the audience of Capt. Linn’s much-decorated military career and his struggles with cancer and then invited Jeremy onstage.
When Jeremy was speaking Mayor Leffingwell stepped onstage behind Capt. Linn. When Jeremy concluded his remarks the mayor then presented him with a Key to the City of Austin. The audience rose to their feet with thunderous applause.
Bob Kinney Words & Photos