Austin remembers Unverzagt with car cruise

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, June 13, 2012

When scores of cars weave through Mower County this weekend in memory of local car aficionado, the late Austin man’s own car will lead the pack.


The Luke Unverzagt Memorial Car Cruise starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Eagles Club in Austin. Unverzagt’s car, a Chevy Nova, will lead the procession.

Unverzagt, 32, died when a car carrying him and two other men, Jason Fredrickson and Jacob Moe, crashed through a utility pole, fence and walnut tree just south of Austin around 2 a.m. on Feb. 25. Moe also died.

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The cruise will be the first of several events in the works to remember Unverzagt, according to his wife, Sarah. She wrote about her husband and the cruise in an email to the Herald:

“Though nothing I do will ever honor my husband quite as much as he deserves, these celebrations we are planning—of his life and the things that he loved—bring comfort to all of us as we navigate the waters of such a great loss. I miss him more as the days pass by, and hope that as he looks over these events, he is filled with pride.

“My intention is to keep him a living memory in everyone’s life, and to continue to show that he was the hardest working, infectious, and genuine person most people will ever have the opportunity to meet. His protective nature, and quick-witted personality are spoken of often, which lends additional comfort to us, especially through these large celebrations of his life.

“Nothing will ever fill up my heart as much as he has and always will, I hope this first event allows that same feeling for everyone involved.”

Harold Sorenson, owner of Muffler Center in Austin, helped organize the cruise.

“He was a really good kid, a hard-working kid,” said Sorenson, a close friend of the Unverzagt family.

He described Luke as a family-oriented man who respected his elders and his parents. Unverzagt’s passion, Sorenson said, was to drive and sometimes to work on cars.

“He was the kind of guy that was always on the up and up,” said Mitch Meyer, a service technician at Usem Inc. in Austin. Meyer, who was a friend of Unverzagt’s brother-in-law, said he met Unverzagt about a year ago at the Mapleview Lounge one night, where the two bonded over their mutual interests.

“We were just sitting there and got to talking about cars,” he said. “He had a Nova and I have a Nova.”

Unverzagt always had a big smile on his face and a positive attitude, Meyer added, and he liked to tell stories.

Sorenson and Meyer estimated that between 50 and 75 cars will be involved in the cruise Saturday.

“This is the first one, so it’s really hard to predict,” Sorenson said. He has seen memorial rides for other people in the past have over 100 cars participate, he added.

“As of right now, it’s kind of family and friends,” Meyer said, though he posted fliers around the city and said the memorial cruise is open to the public. No RSVP is necessary, he said.

The route will wind around the county, stopping in a number of towns. Unverzagt’s wife, Sarah, will drive the lead car, accompanied by his parents and Megan Moe, Jake’s wife, riding as passengers. The cruise will likely end by about 6 p.m.

“It’ll be an all-afternoon deal,” Meyer said. He hopes to keep each rest stop to about 45 minutes of socializing, before the group gets back on the road.

Although the cruise won’t hit the road until 11 a.m., participants are invited to come for a pancake breakfast at the Eagles Club, where staff members are volunteering time and effort. Proceeds from the event will go to the Luke Unverzagt Electricians Scholarship, through the Riverland Foundation.

Unverzagt also liked to golf, Sorenson said. Sarah and her brother, Chad Thomas, who was a longtime friend of Unverzagt’s, and a number of family members have begun plans to put together the first annual Luke Unverzagt Memorial Golf Tournament. The golf tournament is currently slated for sometime in July.

A memorial event for Moe is likely to come later in the summer.

First annual Luke Unverzagt Memorial Car Cruise

The cruise begins at the Eagles Club in Austin. From there, it will hit several towns in the county and make pit stops to socialize along the way. The path is roughly as follows:

—Stop in Rose Creek, at Woody’s

—Stop in LeRoy, at Sweet’s Hotel

—Stop in Grand Meadow, at Skjenke Bom Lounge

—Stop in Dexter, at Oasis Bar & Grill

—Cut through Brownsdale

—End in Mapleview, at Mapleview Lounge