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
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
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
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
What was the first thing you noticed with the Sprint Car when
you pushed off and the flagman started flicking the green lights
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
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
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
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
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
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 www.BraceJr.com
*Note-BraceJr.com 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*
To contact Gary firstname.lastname@example.org