The Well-Oiled Machinery of the Chmielewski Brothers
Published: Sep 11 2015
Jacob and Joshua Chmielewski are 19-year-old identical twins with the same passion: cars. They were only in the fourth grade when they opened a joint bank account and started saving for their dream car, a 1999 C5 Corvette. Between them they mowed 32 lawns a week, saving for years to purchase the red car that now sits on a lift in the BSC Auto Tech garage.
They work like a well-oiled machine doing the work that doubles as classroom credit – replacing the clutch. It’s the second major repair the Corvette has required. The brothers rebuilt the engine while still in high school.
“When we first got it we let a friend take it to prom and he blew up the motor,” Josh says. “I’m not sure how it happened, I guess he was driving pretty recklessly. Obviously, he’s not really our friend anymore.” The two grew up with cars – moving from Matchbox cars to the real thing at an early age. Their dad, Alan, has always been interested in cars, and their older brother works as a mechanic.
The brothers are difficult to tell apart – Jacob’s goatee is about the only difference physically. And they are highly attuned to each other. They are the kind of identical twins you imagine communicate telepathically – it seems that most of their decisions are achieved without much discussion.
Josh is the twin who does the talking and Jacob spends the money. Josh always drives them to where they’re going and Jacob drives them home. They share the car, their workplace, a group of friends and their education in BSC’s auto tech program.
According to Lee Friese, associate professor of Automotive Technology, the limited enrollment program had one spot open, but both brothers were on the waiting list. The program made room. “They are the two that took BSC past 4,000 to 4,002 students last semester,” Friese laughs. Friese notes that they are good students individually, but even better when they partner in the lab.
When not in school, the brothers work together at LSI, a truck repair shop in Bismarck. Josh credits his Bismarck High School auto tech teacher, Dan Gross, with encouraging the brothers to enroll in BSC’s program.
“He motivated us to go further with our education and said that BSC was really good,” Josh says.
They’ll finish the program in 2017, and Josh says they are happy to continue working together in someone else’s shop, but would like to open a repair shop in the future, “We get along pretty well and don’t mind sharing,” Josh says.
In the meantime, the brothers are adding to their collection. They went to Iowa last fall to purchase a 1991 GMC Syclone. The brothers’ eyes light up explaining its relevance. “It’s the world’s fastest production truck. They only made it for one year,” Josh says. “It’s really rare – I think ours is the only one in North Dakota.”
Jacob nods and smiles in agreement and, together, the two go back to work on the car over their heads.