Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

Member Spotlight: Ethan Budke, Electronics Technician Leader (NDOT), North Platte

Ethan Budke, an Electronics Technician Leader for the Nebraska Department of Transportation in North Platte, spends his days maintaining and fixing radios, lights, cameras, weather signs, and all of the other equipment that makes Nebraska safer and easier to travel. 

Ethan is a self-described car guy. Everything he drives comes from a salvage yard. He spends his free time working on cars, riding motorcycles, and, most notably, racing in the Sandhills Open Road Challenge. The race is a timed rally with no speed limit, and Ethan is a two-time runner-up. He plans to win this year’s race in August. 

Ethan has had his racecar, a 1992 Toyota MR2, for more than 10 years. Though the racing itself is certainly a rush — Ethan’s top speed is 120mph — he said that the best part about the Open Road Challenge is the people that he has met. 

“There are folks from all over the United States that come out to race or watch,” he said. “I’ve also met guys who are originally from Hungary, Turkey, and Greece. People rent cars just to participate in this thing and it’s really cool to see how many people from all different backgrounds come together.”

When he’s not racing or working on his cars, Ethan likes spending time with his wife and four-year-old son. He has also found himself in a mentorship role for younger car guys in the community — in fact, during the interview, someone stopped by Ethan’s house to ask if one of the guys Ethan helps out with his car was still in need of a radiator.

Both at work and in his personal life, Ethan is dedicated to advocating for his peers. Ethan is a delegate to our 2024 Bargaining Conference because he’s fighting for working families like his and he’s ready to be a voice for his fellow NDOT members.

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees