Dennis grew up on a small family farm in northwestern Illinois. He started tinkering with machines early on and purchased his first motorcycle, a Honda Cub 50 at age 12, his first car, a ‘59 T-Bird, at age 15. He also played guitar and trumpet in a variety of rock, folk, and school bands.
He went to North Central College in Naperville, Illinois where he majored in both chemistry and physics. His undergraduate research in quantum physics received an American Chemical Society award. He continued his automotive interest and, through the course of his college years, owned a number of muscle and sports cars. He also kept up his music, playing in local coffee houses.
After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, Dennis took up the pedal steel guitar and started playing in country-rock bands in the Chicago area. He has opened for acts such Charlie Daniels, Waylon Jennings and Dr. Hook. However, after two years, Dennis decided to retire from the music scene and go to graduate school.
He attended the University of Idaho, where he received a Ph.D. in chemistry. While there, Dennis became an avid climber and winter mountaineer. He also finally married his high school sweetheart, Ellen.
After receiving his doctorate, Dennis accepted a position as a product development scientist at The Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. There he worked on most of P&G’s food products in the 80’s, including Pringles, with which he bears a striking resemblance to the handlebar mustachioed character on the can. Dennis received a number of patents while at P&G. Once again having some disposable income, Dennis got back to playing with classic cars. This is also where he and Ellen had their three children, Emily, Jillian, and Sam.
After 10 years at P&G, Dennis took a position as Director of Product Development at a Bristol-Myers Squibb company in Evansville, Indiana where he led the development of Boost nutritional energy drink, among other products. In 1995 he met the founder of the fledgling Bradley David Productions, Inc., and became co-owner of the company shortly thereafter. A My Classic Car pilot series, hosted by Dennis, was developed for TNN and received strong ratings when it aired in early 1996. Based on this success, the show premiered as a weekly series on TNN in January, 1997. It hasn’t been off the air since.
In 2000 the show moved to the SPEED channel where it ultimately reached over 85 million households and was one of the highest rated programs on the network. Now in production for its 24nd season, My Classic Car is carried on Velocity, NBC Sports Network, MAVTV and Rev’n networks reaching over 100 million households. In addition, Dennis is the Executive Producer of the motorcycle television programs, Trippin’ on Two Wheels and Corbin’s Ride On, and the reality series, Texas Hardtails, as well as the independent film, Novem.
Dennis and his business partner received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for Indiana in 2000. He received the Lee Iacocca Award in 2014 and was inducted into the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Hall of Fame in 2015. Dennis has also served on the SEMA Board of Directors, as well as a number of academic and industry advisory boards.
In 2010 Dennis became sole owner of the production company and renamed it MadStache, Inc. With his lifelong love of cars, motorcycles, and the creative process, he states, “This has got to be the ultimate job!”