Mike Patnode runs Aitkin Pet and Farm and Aitkin Ag Services with his dad, Jeff Patnode, while Mike’s wife, Gretchen, has a pet grooming business located with the ag businesses.
So what took Mike, a 1999 Aitkin High School graduate, into racing?
“Gretchen and I were hanging out in the tailgate area, enjoying an evening at the speedway about five years ago when I commented to her that I would love to be a race car drive,” Mike explained. “To my surprise she said, ‘then why don’t you look for a car?’
“The next day I found my own car, one that was previously driven by Aitkin driver Bob Lind, and was looking for sponsors,” he added.
Mike’s day job requires a lot of time on his feet, attention to detail, coordination with suppliers and bookkeeping. Hauling his car to the track and competing is a complete change of pace.
Rather than having to multi-task for hours on end, he is able to focus completely on the task at hand, which has a way of relieving stress for him – a complete change of pace.
Mike Patnode’s racing is currently sponsored by Aitkin Ag Services, Aitkin Pet and Farm, Iron Range Veterinary Services (also co-located with the family businesses), KKIN Radio, Advantage Tree Care, Jeff Wiberg Flooring and D&S Truck Repair.
“Family always comes first for me,” said Mike, who is the father of three young children, Ava, Asa and Ala. “I don’t race more than once a week at the most because of my other obligations, so I’m not really competing for points.
“I do it more for fun and as an activity the whole family can enjoy and participate in. The family is my pit crew,” he added. “Last weekend, for example, one of the kids was away at a rodeo, so I took the weekend off from racing, and took the rest of the family out for lunch and a movie at the Rialto.”
What is next for the Patnode family’s racing?
Mike and Gretchen’s older daughter, Ava, who is 13, is only a couple of years away from being able to race her own car,
“She has said she wants to race, too,” Mike said last week.