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Rider's Almanac Blog

On Off The Clock

On the Clock/Off the Clock: Ray Ziesmer, Foreperson-Commuter Rail

Posted by Drew Kerr | Wednesday, October 6, 2021 10:03:00 AM

Lives: Lindstrom 
Years of service: 7 years  

How did you come to work at Metro Transit and what do you do? 

Since I was little kid, I have liked tearing things apart and finding out how they work and what I can do to improve or repair them. I got most of my training during the five years I was in the Army where I worked on AH-64 Apache helicopters. I served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield while I was stationed in Germany. While I received most of my electrical training in the military, I went to tech school after I got out to become an auto mechanic. Then, I spent about 10 years at area tire shops specializing in alignments and 13 years at a freight railroad in St. Paul, working on diesel-electric locomotives. 

What do you like the most about being “On the Clock”? 

I enjoy the operation of a locomotive, and the fact we’re helping people is awesome. I enjoy troubleshooting, making repairs, and teaching other mechanics. The group of people I work with are ready and raring to go when they come to work, and that’s what I like.  

What are your favorite activities when you’re “Off the Clock?” 

Competing in demolition derbies at county fairs from June through August and then restoring cars and getting them ready for the next year. My number is 85 for the year I graduated from high school, and my colors have been red, white and blue ever since I got out of the Army. My cars are decorated with stars and stripes and have had eagles on the hoods to represent freedom. 

I started when I was 16, driving a Plymouth Fury in my first race, and have competed nearly every year since. I now drive Chevy Luminas, a Toyota Camry and Crown Vics. My son, Raymond drives in the same derbies but we don’t attack each other. We save each other for the end, if we ever make it!  

I’ve never taken first place, and that’s what I’m driving for. But mostly, I do it for the crowd and the adrenaline rush. Before the derby, I’m totally afraid. But once I’m on the track and they’re ready to drop the green flag, it’s totally awesome.  

Learn more about the unique off the clock pursuits of Metro Transit staff