Who was Don Dirks? Don Dirks was born on March 1, 1930 in rural Maxwell, California just 70 miles north of Sacramento and got his start in the automotive industry the same way many young men and women do—he just started hanging out at local car garages. There, he discovered a passion and curiosity for how automobiles operate. His son, Doug Dirks, noted that as a teenager growing up in a farming community, Don found that to be a lot more interesting than the work of his peers milking cows.
If anyone had a question about the industry, chances are Don would have the answer. He worked in nearly every aspect of the auto repair industry, opening a service station, body shop, used car lot, general repair shop, transmission shop, wrecking yard, and even worked as a parts supplier. Don’s wife, Angelina, son Doug, and daughter-in-law would often joke that the wrecking yard was the only part of Don’s business they didn’t care for.
Even when it was time for Don to retire, he still refused to let go of the profession that he loved, and his family built him a 7,500 square foot shop at his home. He continued to work on cars, fixing everything from his friends’ transmissions to their fender benders until he passed away in 1999.
A few years later, a scholarship in Don’s memory was established, awarding $500 to one qualified automotive repair student every year. To this day, the Don Dirks Scholarship fulfills Angelina and Doug’s hope that it will help other young people pursue their passion for the automotive profession.