The WPI/NTPA office has been notified of the passing on Monday, May 28 of Dan Utz, 65, of Bloomville, Ohio. Mr. Utz drove the "Thumper" twin Hemi-powered Modified in NTPA competition from 1980 to 1983, winning the Grand National 5,200-lb. class title in 1981.
Mr. Utz's rookie campaign with NTPA was memorable, as he won three times on the Grand National circuit (in Bowling Green, Ohio; Springfield, Missouri; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) and finished in the top six in four weight classes including runner-up in the 5 MOD.
Then he had his best season in 1981, winning at Columbus and Davenport en route to the title as well as six times on the regional circuit. That same year, he was the U.S. Hot Rod Association's champion in 7,200-lb. Modified and finished fifth, eighth, and ninth in NTPA standings in the 7,200, 9,200, and 11,200, respectively. After another win in BG in 1982, he tallied a second USHRA championship in 1983.
A graduate of Buckeye Central High School, Mr. Utz attended the Ohio State University for one year before returning to the family farm. He was also in insurance sales for over two decades. He enjoyed other forms of motorsports, including drag racing, and loved to engage friends in Ford-versus-Chevy and John Deere-versus-Case IH debates. He and his wife Barb spent their summer weekends camping. He enjoyed visiting with his grandchildren and attending their school functions and sporting events. Mr. Utz was a member of the Crawford County Gideons and attended LifePoint Community Church in Plymouth.
In addition to Barb, Mr. Utz is survived his children Jeremy (Beth), Matthew (Theresa) Tharp, Robbie, and Jennifer (Justin) Jacobs; grandchildren Danny, Kenny, and Samantha Utz and Jay and Madison Tharp; brothers, Craig (Cathy) and Douglas (Ginny); sister, Beth (Bob) Warren; several brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, and cousins. His complete obituary may be found here.
Visitation for family and friends will be Saturday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to noon at LifePoint Church, 260 Riggs Street, Plymouth, Ohio 44865 (419.687.4504); Mr. Utz's funeral service will follow. Memorials may be made to Buckeye Central Future Farmers of America and/or the Gideons; notes for the family may be left online at www.munzpirnstill.com.
We extend our condolences to the Utz family.