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Words and images by Jack Webster

One of the most rewarding things about being involved in motorsports for over 50 years is the number of really interesting people you have the opportunity to meet and get to know in the course of your travels. The drivers you meet of course are interesting – they tend to lead lives that most of us can only dream about. For a kid who grew up on a farm in Ohio, the chance to go to motor races and mingle with people from all walks of life and from all over the planet, literally opened my eyes to a world that I did not know existed. Motorsports has always been populated by unique characters – the kind of people you generally don’t meet or get the chance to know in “the real world”.

One such unique character is John Krick, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for many years. He has been a fixture at motor races for as long as I can remember. If you have been to Sebring, Road Atlanta, Daytona or any number of other tracks, you have probably seen him.  John has been a corner worker for over 25 years and in that time has worked all the major races including the Rolex 24, Twelve Hours of Sebring, Petit Le Mans and countless others, including Formula One.

If you failed to notice John out working at a corner of a race, you may have seen him walking the autograph line at an IMSA race – collecting items donated by teams for the corner worker’s party or getting his latest diecast model signed by drivers.

Ah, John’s diecast collection – or perhaps I should say obsession. If you failed to run into John in the autograph line, you were likely to see him in Vendor Row at any number of race events, where he would be adding to his ever-growing collection of diecast model cars. Over the years, John became quite well known to all the vendors working events like Petit Le Mans.

For you see, John has amassed one of the largest and finest collection of diecast cars I have ever seen. The basement of his home, only minutes away from Road Atlanta, has literally been taken over by his hobby. John himself would be hard pressed to give you an exact number of model cars in his collection, but it is currently well over 3500 cars, mostly in 1/18 and others in 1/43 scale. It is an amazing collection, beautifully displayed on custom wall units and showcases throughout the ultimate “man cave” for a motorsports enthusiast.

“…before you knew it, he was taking his pay in diecast model cars rather than cash.”

The collection includes virtually every discipline of auto racing – IndyCars, Formula One, IMSA, WEC – you name it and John likely has it (and quite a few of them are signed by the drivers). New stuff, old stuff, rare stuff – it is all part of this outstanding collection. There is also a large amount of unique racing memorabilia including signed photos, signed flags, driver helmets, crew shirts and even a windshield from the Panoz Deltawing! Everywhere you turn there is something you haven’t seen before.

In addition to all the diecast models, there are a number of custom hand-built models as well because among his other talents, John is a master model builder and has the trophies to prove it.

John got the collecting bug some 17 years ago while working part time at a local hobby shop. One thing led to another and before you knew it, he was taking his pay in diecast model cars rather than cash. Going to car races on a regular basis helped to fuel the fire of his collecting passion and along the way he became good friends with a number of drivers including BMW legend Bill Auberlen. Other drivers John became close to include David Hobbs, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly, Randy Pobst, Tomy Drissi and Johnny O’Connell, to name just a few.

With Bill Auberlin

When John became quite ill back in September of 2022 and spent an agonizing 89 days in the hospital with double pneumonia (among other difficulties), many of his friends in racing, including a number of drivers, reached out to stay in touch and offer encouragement as he fought his way back to health. Determined to get better and back to the track, John made it to Petit Le Mans last fall, where he worked a limited time as a marshall as he rebuilt his strength.

For me, it was great seeing him at the Twelve Hours of Sebring this year, back in good spirits and good health, working Turn 13 just like the old days. Also, as usual, I ran into John during the driver autograph session, where he was warmly greeted by drivers and where he was getting his latest diecast model signed.

Working hard as a corner worker, greeting drivers and fans around the circuit, or adding another model to his ever-growing collection, you would be hard pressed to find a better ambassador for our sport.

I am looking forward to seeing John again later this season at Petit Le Mans and perhaps taking another look at his diecast collection, to see what has been added since my last visit.

John Krick, is truly one of the good guys in motorsports – a real “model citizen” as the title of this story so accurately states.