More than two decades ago, Dean "Bonzai" Bruns was laid off from his job in construction, opted to go on-the-road as a dirt-track mechanic, and never came back. Today, "Bonzai" is one of the best in the business.
"Bonzai" Bruns has been tending to race cars for 24 years, working as a mechanic and crew chief for the likes of Danny Lasoski, Jac Haudenschild, and other top dirt-track drivers.
"My brother got me hooked on it, and from then on that's all I ever thought about was racing," Bonzai Bruns said.
"Enjoys racing, relaxing, and having a lot of fun afterwards. He's just down to earth. He's a way down to earth guy," driver Tim Kaeding said.
Bruns learned the ins and outs of race cars hands-on, and has been perfecting his craft ever since.
"A few years back when Karl Kinser was here and he came and ask me some questions after the race because we did pretty well, that feels pretty good," Bruns said.
"Being able to get into the car and know that your crew chief definitely has everything in line for you it definitely helps you out mentally with one of these race cars. He does everything he's suppose to do and makes sure nothing falls off," Kaeding said.
It's the grind of the road that has "Bonzai" thinking that next year will be his last in the business, though he'll still follow the sport. Bruns says he's been away from home for so long, he wouldn't know what to do if he was home.
"I've been to Australia three times. I've been to Canada several times, and went to Mexico one time, and just been all over the United States. So, been a lot of places, seen a lot of things, and been to a lot of races," Bruns said.
Bruns earned the nickname "Bonzai" in high school. His older brother had the same nickname. But, "Bonzai" stuck with Dean.