Kent Enderle | 2011
Kent Enderle | 2011
In pulling, one event is known by a single word: Enderle. The influence of Kent and Joan Enderle on the sport of pulling can be felt today as it was nearly 50 years ago. The pair is the first couple and sponsors inducted into the NTPA Hall of Fame.
Kent Enderle was born in Pasadena, Calif. This beautiful setting cultivated a hard working, jolly man who inherited genes that lead him to tinkering. His Bavarian grandfather was the inventor of the first asbestos-lined furnace pipe. Kent's father took over that plant, exposing the young Enderle to machine work. Couple that skill with his natural desire to tinker, and Kent could frequently be found in the factory’s maintenance shop.
After high school, Kent attended a local, two-year community college, training to become a flight engineer, and took a jet engine related course. The instructor saw promise in the young Enderle and got a job for him at the jet propulsion laboratory, where Kent was placed in research and development. Kent texted ideas from various directives, and tried them back at the machine shop to make equipment.
It was at the laboratory that Kent met Pete Jackson. Pete was the brother of Charles "Kong" Jackson who built most of the popular ignition systems of the day. Pete had the same knack that his brother had for such things. Pete and Kent collaborated on their own fuel injection systems and cultivated a new business.
Kent, now in his 20s, was employed at his father’s shop, the jet lab and the new fuel injection business. He married his first wife, Doris, who owned a weekly racing paper called Drag News, with which Kent was also involved. It was becoming quite clear that Kent’s world was progressing toward high performance racing manufacturing, and through Drag News he knew manufacturers on a first name basis. Eventually, Kent and Doris divorced.
Around 1964, Pete Jackson decided to pursue other interests and sold his half of the fuel injection business to Kent. Enderle Fuel Injection became Kent’s main passion. His fuel injection business continued to grow, mainly with the help of drag racing consumers.
Kent met Joan Warneke on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. Soon, Joan became “Mrs. Enderle.” Kent sold his house and the couple moved on to a boat which docked outside of Los Angeles Harbor. The two adventurers would compete in boat races from L.A. to Hawaii as a way to have fun. Joan loved racing too, whether by sea, asphalt, or later, clay pulling strips.
NTPA Pulling found its way on to Kent’s radar back in the early 1980s when he received a copy of The Puller. Browsing through its pages, Kent couldn’t believe how much of his product was used in the sport. Kent contemplated an event where pullers could compete for a special purse sponsored by high performance companies. It would be roughly based on drag racing’s “Big Bud Shootout.” But after discussing money with his industry peers, Kent found himself as the sole contributor in making this “pull-off” event a reality. Kent credits Joan as the catalyst of Enderle Fuel Injection sponsoring of the program outright. She told Kent, ''The hell with those guys. If you really want to do this, do it yourself." And so, he did.
In 1987, Kent and WPI President/CEO David P. Schreier agreed on a place and format for the first ever Enderle Pull-Off. It would happen in Columbus, Ohio as a bonus event to the regularly scheduled NTPA Grand National Event at the Ohio State Fair. At that first event, Kent rewarded 50 invitational pullers a purse totaling $17,800.
In 1991, the Enderle Pull-Off moved to Ambassador Park in Fort Recovery, Ohio, to be a part of their NTPA points pull and now had a purse totaling $35,000. As the years passed, the Enderle Pull-Off grew in size and popularity, and Kent surmised that it could stand on its own. The 20th annual Enderle Pull-Off in 2006 called the Champaign County Fairgrounds in Urbana, Ohio its home. It featured an invitational purse of $63,785. A packed house greeted the Enderles and its contestants, and the move was deemed a success. This past September, the Enderle Pull-Off reached its 25th anniversary milestone, and has paid out nearly $1,150,000 in the process.
Many thanks to Kent Enderle, who has given NTPA its longest standing sponsorship and gained many friends along the way. Special thanks to his wife Joan, who gave Kent that extra boost of confidence to initiate the program. Without that support, the Enderle Pull-Off would not have gotten off the ground. Unfortunately, we lost Joan in December 2004 after a courageous battle with cancer, and we are left with her spirit. Her legacy continues with her son Mike Keena and his wife Yovana. They have become permanent fixtures of the event, but more importantly, they have joined Kent and Joan as beloved family members of the NTPA and its fan base. Each summer, fans seek out the Californians who have called Ohio a second home for 25 years, and they will continue to do so. The Enderle Family is an indelible part of NTPA History.