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Women on Wheels: Jenny Wespiser

Women on Wheels: Jenny Wespiser


It's all about Family.

Jenny’s story is a similar one for many of us, men and women, and the memories we have in common growing up in a family where the hobby of working on old cars in a backyard garage, building a street rod or custom, and attending local car shows was a special part of the family life.  Let me introduce you to Jenny, her husband Doug, and their two boys Grayson and Ben – a third generation hot rod family. 

(Jenny and her dad, Rick Demma)

Jenny’s first memory of “old cars” is around the age of three when she was first introduced to the hobby by her dad, Rick Demma.  Though Rick was her step-dad, to Jenny he was “my dad.”   Rick had a ‘40 Ford and no matter whether Jenny was playing in the house or in the yard whenever Rick would start that old car Jenny would hear that engine and she would come running shouting, “Where are we going? Where are we going?” More often than not they were not going anywhere as Rick was just working on the car.  She remembers the many times her mom and dad would put her in the car and they would just go cruising.  As Jenny got older the car cruise would become a trip to a quaint river town where they would just hang out or have lunch.  The ’40 Ford had an eight-track stereo in it and Jenny fondly remembered  one day they were listening to John Lennons, “Watching the Wheels”, it was pouring rain,  the windshield wipers were not working and her dad could not see the road so they had to pull over and stop until the storm ended. They listened to that same song over, and over, and over, again.  That song became their unofficial car cruising theme song.

A time came when Rick had to sell the ’40 Ford; and, during the years they were without a street rod, Rick would continue to take Jenny along to attend local car shows and especially MSRA Back To The 50’s .   

When Jenny was in her 20’s, her dad bought a 1930 Model A little rust-bucket. That is the car she remembers most.  They took it to local car shows, Car Craft, and Back To The 50’s. They went everywhere together in that car. Her mom had stopped attending the car shows and Jenny who loved the old car hobby continued attending as many car shows as she could with her dad.  They would sit and talk for hours about cars, friends, family and life.  “Car shows and the street rod hobby was the reason we had such a special relationship” remembered Jenny.

As grandchildren and spouses grew the family Jenny’s dad sold his Model A and purchased his dream car, a 1950 Ford Shoebox. In 1957 Dave Bell did the pinstriping on the ‘50, and on the car’s steering wheel. In 2011, her dad passed away and Jenny and Doug made sure the ’50 Ford stayed in the family and that the hobby and lifestyle would be passed on to the next generation.  The next generation in our FAMILY. 

“This is a family street rod” Jenny said as she spoke about Doug their two sons, Grayson and Ben. “They LOVE it!  The boys can be fighting and rowdy and having a bad day once they get in the car they calm down. Car shows now are not so much of the sitting and chatting as they were with my dad” Jenny shared. With two active boys Jenny and Doug enjoy going to car shows that have other activities included in the event. Jenny went on to add  “ the boys love meeting the car guys, they are learning a lot by attending the car shows, the courtesy that people show them, and learning about the hobby”; and, Jenny and Doug love that the street rod hobby teaches the boys respect of other people’s property, friendship, helping others, and social etiquette.  “The boys always get a welcoming reception when we pull up with their car seats in the car”.  The special car culture FAMILY. 

Jenny’s dad had taught her the basics of the maintenance on a car, how to change the oil, change a tire, all in preparation for her going away to school. Jenny may not have personally worked on her ’50 Ford, however she could get the correct wrench when asked and she held a flashlight steady.  When Jenny was little she and Rick would spend hours in the driveway washing the various cars that over the years he owned, and Jenny remembered her “very important responsibility was to be in charge of washing the wheels.”  Jenny said it brings her joy to watch her boys out washing the wheels on the ’50 Ford with Doug.  “I am blessed to have a husband who loves the car hobby. Doug and his friends work hard to keep our ’50 Ford repaired.”  Their extended  FAMILY of friends.

Jenny is a stay at home mom, also does sub-contracting work as an Inclusion Coach and Trainer for early childhood programs. Along with Doug, and their two boys, Jenny volunteers in MSRA – Minnesota Street Rod Association. Doug and Jenny are the volunteer chairpersons for MSRA Apparel Sales and Ben and Grayson love helping “sell shirts” at the annual MSRA Back To The 50’s.  Jenny co-founded a non-profit organization, Project Baby Bottoms, which provides diapers and baby wipes to child care programs that serve low income families.  Their non-profit volunteer FAMILY.

We had laughed and shared stories, and as we were ending our conversation her tone changed just a bit and I could feel the warmth in her voice as she shared just one more special memory. A memory from her wedding, “Watching the Wheels” was the song that was played for our Father/Daughter dance.”

For Jenny, “It’s All About Family.”