Michael R. Brooks, 79, of Knoxville, IA died Sunday, December 17th at his winter home in Wellton, AZ surrounded by his girls Sharla, Melanie, and Melissa.
A celebration of life service for Mike will be held Saturday, January 6, 2024, at 1:00 p.m. at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame. The short service will be followed by a celebration of life gathering at the Hall of Fame until 4:00 p.m. for a time of sharing fun tales and stories. In lieu of flowers the family is requesting donations be made to the Knoxville Raceway Charitable Organization (KRCO) or Knoxville Humane Society.
Michael R. Brooks was born to Chester and Alice (Garrington) Brooks on February 25, 1944, in Marshalltown, Iowa. The family lived at their family farm in Knoxville, Iowa where Mike attended Knoxville schools. He later went on to work with his father hauling coal in the Knoxville area which sparked his passion for the trucking industry.
In 1968, Mike was united in marriage to Rhonda (Bunting) Brooks (later divorced). Together they had 3 children: Curtis Ray, Melanie Diane, and Melissa Michelle. Mike later met and married the love of his life, Sharla Jean (Visser) on July 3, 1995, and gained a stepson, Larry Vernon.
As Mike’s passion for trucking grew, he started his own business and became the proud owner of Mike Brooks, Inc. The business started with 1 truck and grew to well over 200 trucks. He received the Ford Q1 Award for Mike Brooks Inc. He started the Blue Highways division after purchasing his very first semi he had ever owned and rebuilding her to a beautiful showstopper he proudly named Gertrude. Blue Highways hauled high-end vehicles for many notable people throughout the US. Even after he sold his Brooks Trucking division, he continued the Blue Highways division until 2009. He also served on the Iowa Motor Truck Association (IMTA) Board.
Mike began his illustrious racing career in the early 1970’s beginning with the #15 stock car in Newton, Iowa. His sprint car driving career lasted for many years, racing for several notable car owners, but his most well-known accomplishments occurred while racing for Harrold Annett in the beautiful Mickow Corporation #12. Mike’s most memorable accomplishments in racing include 1979 2nd place at the Western World Nationals at Manzanita, 1980 Knoxville Track Champion, 1980 Knoxville Nationals perfect 500 pole sitter, traveling to Australia to race a season for Bob Trostle, 1987 Knoxville Hall of Fame inductee, and 14 feature wins at Knoxville. After retiring from his racing career, Mike continued to support his love of racing by being on the Knoxville Raceway Fair Board and served as President of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame for 2 terms.
Mike was one of the most adventurous men you will ever meet. His kids always joked about his 2-year projects, but he never left a project unfinished! Once he put his mind to something, it was going to happen! He purchased a 1994 Eagle Series bus, tore it down to the frame and turned it in to a beautiful Brooks red bus he named Bertha. He and Sharla would travel all over the country with Bertha for the past 7 years.
Having maintained his corporate pilot’s license for many years, another project was starting yet another business called Blue Highways Aviation, to which he took on the risky business of crop dusting. During this time he owned 2 separate planes, the 2nd in which he (of course) completely rebuilt.
Family was very important to Mike. He built a mini-campground he named “Magic’s Campground,“ so his children could bring their campers out and stay on the farm! The memories the family had there are endless and deeply cherished.
His last BIG adventure was one for the books. In fact, he started to write a book about it! At the age of 72, he took off on his 2015 BMW motorcycle and drove it from Iowa to Guatemala (yes in Central America). Oh the stories and photos he had from this trip……he loved telling stories of his cheap hotels, run-ins with the Mexican cartel, and the beautiful sites he saw!
Mike was preceded in death by his father Chester, mother Alice, Father-in-law Don Visser; Sisters Lorraine (Bill) Ozanne and KJ (Ollie) Reno; sister-in-law Gay (Visser) Terlouw and brother-in-law Gary Visser. Mike is survived by his wife of 28 years Sharla and children Curt (Melissa) Brooks, Melanie (Mike) Funk, Melissa (Mike) Reinke, and Larry (Tracy) Newendorp. Mike is further survived by his grandchildren Hayley, Lane, and Chase Reinke; Allyson, Carter and Jocilyn Funk; Zachary, Riley and Taylor Newendorp. Also survived by mother-in-law Donna Visser, Randy (Sue) Visser and Lisa (Brian) Metcalf.
Mike was full of life and adventure with a little bit of ornery mixed in there too. He was a hard worker, business owner, race car driver, pilot, traveler, mechanic, etc. His greatest accomplishment was being a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He will be forever missed.