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Hundreds turn out to pay tribute to Schulz at funeral at RRV Speedway

Pallbearers accompany the casket of driver John Schulz after his funeral Thursday at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo. Fellow Modifieds drivers and their cars line the pathway. Schulz died Saturday after an accident while racing at the speedway. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Family and friends said goodbye to "Johnny 1-5" on Thursday.

A few hundred mourners attended the funeral of Fargo auto racer John A. Schulz at the Red River Valley Speedway's Hartl Ag Building.

Schulz, 47, was killed Saturday night while competing in the Modifieds feature race at RRVS. He was the fourth death at the speedway, and first since 35-year-old Greg Nogowski was killed in 1992.

"I'm very sad," said Schulz's crew chief and longtime friend Terry Busack, who was a pallbearer Thursday. "He was my best friend, he was my brother."

The funeral was a fitting tribute to Schulz's love of auto racing. The funeral program contained a poem about the sport titled "Racer's Creed."

Musical selections at the service included Carrie Underwood's "Jesus Take the Wheel," and George Jones' "The Race is On."

"It's what he lived for. It's what he always looked forward to," said Modified driver and pallbearer Phil Christlieb, who pitted next to Schulz at RRVS for the last 15 years. "Especially this year, he was really looking forward to it because he had the best car he ever had. I was looking forward to watching him this year. ... He was actually getting better with age."

Modified race cars lined the sidewalk at the entrance to the Hartl Ag Building.

Red River Valley Speedway General Manager Bryan Schulz, who is not related to John Schulz, emerged from the 40-minute funeral service to give the cars the order to start their engines.

The loud roar of the engines filled the air as John Schulz's casket was loaded into a hearse.

The 10 Modified cars followed the hearse two abreast for a lap around the speedway parking lot as a final tribute to the driver friends called "Johnny 1-5." John Schulz's car number was 15.

John Schulz was buried at Fargo's Riverside Cemetery.

"John was a great guy, he raced you clean," said six-year local auto racing veteran Jason Blue. "If he ever did get into you he would be right by you when the race was done to talk about it. I loved racing against him."

Bryan Schulz said Red River Valley Speedway will pay tribute to John Schulz at tonight's races.

The speedway will have a moment of silence prior to the national anthem to start off the night.

Spectators will receive a sticker featuring Schulz's No. 15 for a free will donation that will be used to help the family offset funeral costs.

Modified drivers will also go into the grandstand to take donations for the family, Bryan Schulz said.

The Modified class feature will leave the pole position open to start the race in honor of Schulz.

"It's very tough. It's only happened at the track four times total," Bryan Schulz said. "This is kind of an extended family. It's tough anytime you lose a member of your family."