Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa

Runnin' Hard With Richard Brace Jr.

First I want to start off by thanking you for doing this for us my man!
RB: I appreciate you choosing me to do this!

Tell us a little about yourself....
RB: I'm 29 years old, have been racing Sprint Cars for 4 years, coming up on 5. Previous to that, I ran IMCA Modifieds from 1994 to 2001 up until I got the ride driving for Ron Brooke.

You career actually started at 16 correct?
RB: Yes, I started racing Mini-Stocks at Grass Valley on my 16th Birthday!

What was that like at 16!

RB: I loved it! Well, I'd been eating, sleeping racing my whole life prior to that anyways, because my dad was involved with some cars at Grass Valley. He was building them and stuff. So I'd been working on race cars since I was 6 years old. That's all I've ever wanted to do was race....

So you've known since you were a kid that's what you wanted to do, was race....
RB: Yeah, my dad got involved with another gentleman up there in Grass Valley, building cars and stuff. I enjoyed the building cars and fabricating stuff 'cause my dad's a fabricator, and of course I got that from him. It was an instant switch though. It was like, this is fun, but all I want to do is drive. From 6 years old on, all I wanted to do was race a Sprint Car. I was getting close to 16, and the winter prior to that, we put a car together. I had a really good friend of mine that was a mentor, he was a racing buddy of my dads. He shook it down for about 4 or 5 races or something like that. He got the car kinda set-up for me, and when May 27th rolled around, their was a race at Grass Valley and we went racing, it was cool!

You mentioned you raced the Modified for quite a while. You were pretty successful in that division....
RB: Fortunately I was. My dad was really, really into it. We were able to build things, and try to out think some guys, instead of trying to out spend them. I was very pleased with my Modified career.

You have reason to be. You raced against some good guys in that division, Daryl Shirk comes to mind....
RB: (Peps up!)I almost won the Championship against him my first year at Placerville. I lost the Championship by 4 points I think. We were tied going into the A main! I blew 2 tires, it was a rookie deal, and Daryl was the "Ice Man". I mean he didn't make any mistakes. I'll tell ya, I learned a lot from that guy. I'll never forget he gave me probably one of my biggest compliments ever that night. We became really good friends over that season racing against each other, and of course I've seen him race a long time prior to that running the Modified. It was always that purple #86 car is gonna win type deal. When I got the chance to race race against him it was awesome!

How did the deal with running the Sprint Car come together?
RB: We were sitting around after the Saturday portion of the Silver Cup at Chico. We finished 2nd, and a good friend of mine, Bob Clauson comes down and starts talking to me.

You've gotta be kiddin' me. I raced against Tim in 1/4 Midgets!
RB: Tim drove for my dad back in the '80's! My dad and a gentleman named Harry Hardy gave Tim his first Sprint Car ride. I've known Bob for a long time, and Bob has always told me, that if I ever got a Sprint Car he would help me, he'd do something for me. Anyways, Bob comes down in the pits and he's like man, that was a great race, that was awesome! Bob says "I want you to meet somebody, this is Ron Brooke, Ron Brooke meet Richard Brace" Ron said "You looked good out there tonight, have you ever thought about running Sprint Cars?" I said "thought about it, that's all I've dreamed of!" He asked where we would be next week, and it turns out out next race was at Placerville in two weeks. He said we'll be there too, and to come over and we'll have a beer! Man, I was on cloud 9, I just got finishing second at the biggest race of the year already. So at Placerville I went over there, hung out with them a little bit after the races. I got along with the guys and we had a good time. Somehow I managed to get the courage up and went to his house on a week night. I met his wife Diane, and he told me that they work on the car on Monday nights, and that I needed to come on Mondays, hang out, and work on the cars. We started to become good friends. I was running Chico on Friday nights and I would go to Placerville on Saturday nights and hang out with them, I was having a great time! A week goes by, and at 11 on Saturday morning I get a call at the shop, it's Ron "Hey Rich what are you doing tonight?" "Just hanging out, gonna probably go watch you guys race" I said "Well you wanna drive for me tonight!" He went on "We'll run hot laps, if that goes good, I'll let you qualify, and if that goes good I'll let you run the heat race and the feature. If you look under control, we'll let you go!" I was thinking HOLY CRAP I'VE GOT A SPRINT CAR RIDE!!!!! He told me to show up at the track, and we ran pretty good!

What was the first thing you noticed with the Sprint Car when you pushed off and the flagman started flicking the green lights on!
RB: Man, I got in that car of Ron's, and when they threw the green it felt good! It wasn't hard to go fast in it. It wasn't like the Modified, you really had to turn it, and work the gas the brakes. That thing went in there, turned and just RIPPED around the corner.

As a driver, what changes did you have to make coming out of the Modified to the Sprint Cars?
RB: The biggest change I had to learn, was learning how to roll out of the throttle, and how to not roll out abruptly. I had good throttle control accelerating. I was used to the big heavy car, and the big heavy engine, with all that rotating weight you jump out of the throttle and then jump back in it. In a Sprint Car, you jump out of the throttle, it stops. As soon as you do that, the stagger wants to turn it. So that was probably the biggest change I had to make.

What were the teams plans after night one?

RB: Ron just told me, one night at a time. The second race, we qualified real well. Ray Rust was chasing me in the heat and I hit a hole and finished second. Then we went on and finished 10th in the feature! Me and Ron didn't get to talk a whole lot right after the races, we were both excited! We changed, and got the car loaded up. I'll never forget, he says "Hey Rich, lets go steal a beer from Forsberg, we're out of beer!" I said OK! He puts his arm around me, and as we're walking over there, he looks at me and asks "So do you wanna to drive for me or what?" I was like, I'm there man! We drove for him until he quit in 2003.

In 2000 at Placerville you only raced half the races, but you still took home Rookie Of The Year honors....
RB: You are correct! Their are some very stout guys there.

For a short time in the Sprint Cars, you have shown in my opinion that you carry a lot of talent....
RB: I try to do what ever it takes. I try to make every lap better than the last lap, I just try and be the best!

 You did a little traveling last year. You raced from Washington to Hanford. With the aluminum and without!
RB: 23 races at 10 different tracks! That was one of the things I've always wanted to do was travel.

Explain the difference in driving styles....
RB: With the wing you're hammer down and slide in the corner. Without the wing, you've got to start rolling out of the gas and turn the car harder. You're driving it more, and you're using more steering wheel. It was an easy adjustment for me, because it went right back to what I was used to.

In your opinion does it require more driver skill to run wingless?
RB: The order of events I see is of importance;
Winged car - Motor Chassis Driver

Non-Winged car - Driver Chassis Motor

That's just kinda the way I see it. I mean their's guys that can hustle 'em and get away with it though.

It was an adventure to get to Hanford one evening....
RB: We were heading down South 99, it was about 2:30 and we just passed Madera Speedway. I was passing a Semi, and got along side of him, but the truck started slowing down. I had a 2-speed overdrive on the back of the automatic, so I let out of the gas, and hit the button to kick it out of overdrive. When I hit that button the world came undone! All I heard was BANG! The drive-line was beating the floor board, and everybody's got their feet picked up! I looked in the mirror, and their was nothing but white smoke pouring out the back of the truck. So I whipped over to the shoulder, got out of the truck and oil was just pouring out of the transmission. One end of the drive-line came off the rear end, the other off the 2-speed overdrive. The transmission was turned on a 90 degree angle, so the pan was basically sitting vertical. I called my dad, who was riding down with Rod (A.K.A. The Skipper). I told them we're blown up, we're done! They were in Stockton at the time. So they turned around, and headed back up towards home to get Rod's truck and trailer to haul the truck home. So while they were doing that, a CHP officer stopped, and asked if we have help coming. He said we needed to get off the road. So a tow-truck came and hooked up to us and took us to a truck stop. They were unhooking the truck, and we asked how much would it cost to tow it to Hanford. We threw it around, we can either sit here for eight hours and miss the races, or we can go racing. Of course we went racing! So we hauled ass over to the race track. It was funny because we were towed in on a open trailer, with a Triple-A tow truck towing us!

"Skip" helps you out? He's a good guy......
RB: Yes, he's been a big sponsor of mine. He's helped me out a lot.

A couple of fellow drivers were willing to help you out that night....
RB: Yes, Ricky Williams was there that night, and he stopped by and asked me if I needed to use his truck to tow the trailer home. Matt DeMartini also came by and offered his truck too! That really made me feel good.

You've run with the NST, how do you like running with them?
RB: I love that guy up there! Fred Brownfield is a total class act.

I hear a lot of great things about them...
RB: They treat us like kings. He's came by every time and introduces himself. The first year at Medford we ran pretty good. He came over to me at Cottage Grove the next night looking for me, and says "I've been around a long time, and anyone that can run the top like that has got a vote in my book!" I was very honored. He will do anything for you. My whole crew has no problem hopping in the truck and driving 5-7 hours to go race with him. A couple of years ago I cleared the fence at Lebanon, Ore, and he'd come over and checked on me. I told him he was a great promoter, he took a stern voice with me and said "I'm not a promoter, I am a racer!" He knows what we go through every night.

How did the American paint scheme come about, it's really neat!
RB: That was my girlfriends design. She's got a really good eye for paint stuff, she came up with that, and it turned out beautiful. Their wasn't a track we didn't go to last year were we didn't have a compliment on the car.

How does she handle you out there gettin' after it?
RB: She does pretty well. She doesn't seem to get too nervous, shes been around it long enough. I've told her what to look for when an accident occurs. She seems to handle it extremely, extremely well. Every once in a while she gets upset, like if we have a string of bad races.

You have a great crew....
RB: I've got a dedicated crew! I'm so fortunate to have them. They don't mind hopping in a '92 Chevy with no air conditioner, and sweat our way to the races. They're awesome!

That says a lot about you too. Their's something about you that you must "give off"....
RB: What I've been told, is my passion for racing rubs off on other people. I can personally attest to that!

Who helps pay the bills?
RB: I have some really great sponsors; Don's Landscaping, Brace Mufflers & Welding, Halleib Construction, Magnussen's Dodge of Auburn, A.R.T. Speed Equipment, Outlaw Disc Brakes, Swepco Oil, and Advanced Powder Coating.

I've gotta fellin' that you're going to have a good year when you get going, and us fans can't thank you enough my friend for the interview.....
RB: No, thank you and the fans! We're trying, and that's why we're not starting until later. Their's things that we need to step up. Things I need to spend the money for. We're not going until we've got 'em. I think I've got enough laps riding around, it's time to go out there and pull the gloves off!!!!!!!!!

I know you will buddy, good luck!

Check out the latest happenings with Richard and the team at

* is getting an overhaul right now. It should be back up in the coming weeks. Be sure to check it out race fans, I can't wait until it comes back up either. Race fans, be sure to say hi to Richard after the races, he is one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet*

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