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We say Goodbye to a great friend
Published on: February 21, 2022
Jim Luikens

 James Michael Luikens passed away surrounded by his family on Friday, February 18, 2022. He was born on May 14, 1947, in Grand Rapids to the late Robert and Mary Louise Luikens. 

It’s pretty well documented that Jim’s first word was “Cars.” It would then stand to reason that his second word must have been “Racing” because of his intense, life-long love of racing. Jim has served many forms of motorsports including Go Carts, Short Track, SCCA through the years and although he liked all forms of motorsports his favorite was Championship Drag Racing. 

In 1967 Jim built his first dragstrip-only car, a 1957 Pontiac Junior Stocker. His Pontiac ran so well that he caught the attention of Berger Chevrolet. They asked him to join Berger’s fast-growing High-Performance Parts Department. Over the years he, and his staff at Berger, built Berger Chevrolet into the #1 Chevrolet High-Performance Parts retailer in the USA. In 1975, Jim was recruited by Mr. Gasket and other leading racing parts manufacturers to join them as a Factory Representative. 

Jim is best known for his 55-year career in motorsports marketing. Over those years he has been a driver, a builder, a manufacturer’s rep, race director, team manager, driver agent, sponsor liaison and writer. He has also served as a racing researcher as well as a TV and Internet broadcaster. In 1981, Jim decided to start his own business and founded Rise Sales as a Marketing, Publishing, Public Relations, and Sponsorship Recruitment firm. Throughout the past 41-years Jim and his company, Rise Sales, have won a significant number of awards for all of their writing, publishing and graphic skills.

Besides Jim’s love for racing, his love of Mercedes-Benz vehicles goes back to when he originally discovered Mercedes-Benz via magazine pictures of the 300SL Gullwing when he was 10 years old. It would be a few more years before he could afford to purchase his first Mercedes-Benz vehicle, but when he did he fell in love with all things Mercedes.

Jim was proud to be a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America. He was recently honored locally for his 40-year membership anniversary in the club. He held positions within the club including local Section President, Secretary, and Newsletter Publisher to being on the National Board as Secretary, Regional Director-at-Large and in 2006 he was selected as National Star Magazine Editor.

In 2017, Jim was honored with the Silver Star Award from Daimler AG of Stuttgart, Germany. The Silver Star Award awarded annually, honors exceptional achievements of an individual Mercedes-Benz Club member worldwide in the interests of the brand including their long-standing active membership, exceptional achievements for the company and brand, outstanding fairness in dealing with others and top achievements in the preservation and cultivation of the Mercedes-Benz history and heritage. 

One of Jim’s recent pleasures was mentoring Austin Schank of Newaygo in Mercedes cars and repairs. He eagerly awaited Austin’s arrival each Wednesday night and would spend hours with him talking Mercedes in his garage while working on his cars. He was proud to be passing on his love and knowledge of Mercedes with the younger generation.

A Celebration of Life for Jim was held at the Gilmore Car Museum, one of Jim’s favorite places.

Published by: digitaljjs

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