Tom Avenengo, OWR Staff
I was finally able to get
together with Brett Hearn on Wednesday, May 14th, 2003, for a long
anticipated interview that I had been wanting to do. But, before getting
into what was asked, and what Brett had to say, please let me first give
you some of the “stats” of this fine drivers career. Some of you out there
already know of them, and I have to suppose that there are quite a few that
do not know some of his numbers. Also, a little “Family” information to go
along with the “Stats”.
He has, as of the date of the interview, 616 career feature race victories.
Oh yes, he started racing back in 1975, in case you were wondering. That
was 28 years ago. And, at the end of 2002, he had amassed 610 overall wins,
which comes to an average of a shade over 22 wins per season. By the end of
the 2002 racing season, Brett has had 381 wins in Big Blocks, 227 wins in
Small Blocks and 2 wins in Sprint Cars. As far as “Extra Distance” races,
here too, he has some remarkable figures. In 200 lap races he has had 28
wins. In 150 lap events, 3 wins. Races that were over the 100 lap distance,
he has won 155 times. He also has 65 wins in races that were over the 50
lap distance. Of course these events cover tracks from as small as ¼ milers
up to full mile tracks. He has won a remarkable 54 track and series
championships. Over the course of his career, he has won at 46 various
speedways, in 10 states, and also 2 Canadian Provinces. In the past, back
in the mid to late ‘80’s, he also had entered 24 NASCAR Busch Series
Brett was born on September 1st , 1958. He stands 6’ tall and hits the
scales at 180 pounds. He is married, and his wife’s name is Susan (Sue).
They have a daughter, Brooke, born on April 11th , 1992, and a son, Tyler,
born on June 18th, 1995. Brett has “Full time professional race car driver”
listed as his occupation. He is also the owner of B.H. Racing Enterprises,
Inc. His race team, fabrication shop, has a driving school, and is also a
Performance Equipment Manufacturer. Charity wise, they have the National
Down Syndrome Society, Vernon Township (New
Jersey) Public Schools, and the Olivia Foundation
listed. Brett has appeared on various television shows, shows like ESPN’s
“Speed Week”, TNN’s “Raceday”, ESPN2’s “RPM 2 Night”, “This week on DIRT”,
“Rush Hour on DIRT”, along with multiple appearances on local and regional
radio and television sports programs. He was also the subject of two
one-half hour syndicated television documentaries: “In Hot Pursuit” (Metromedia
1982) and Pat Patterson’s “Champions of Speed” (MSG/Sports Channel/Prime
1997). Sue, has just had her first book published: “Martin and T.J.’s Race
Car Repair”. A story about racing, naturally. You might be surprised as to
who/what Martin and T.J. really are. During the interview, I asked Brett if
he had any in-put into the writing of Sue’s book. Even though it is about
racing, he told me that he had no in-put, what-so-ever. Well, I guess that
Sue has been around racing long enough, and really did not need to ask for
any in-put from Brett.
I have watched Brett race ever since 1975. I can still recall that little
Gray & Blue # 20 Pinto bodied "Sportsman” car. The track in Middletown, N.Y.
was, for me, for quite some time, my “home away from home”. I watched him
as he slowly, well not so slowly, crept up the ladder to where he is today.
I can recall seeing him at the “Square” in Flemington, N.J.
and being a little “out to lunch” there. Then, all of a sudden he figured
the place out. Back in the early 90’s, when my son, Eric, had a modifed,
and our finances were rather small, we were one of those that bought used
tires from him. Over the course of his career, I have spoken to him on many
occasions, and to him, I was just another “race fan”. And, since I have
spoken to him so many times, and now he realized that I was a “writer”, it
was rather easy setting up the interview. So, following are some of the
questions that I asked, and his replies. I hope you enjoy it! Oh yes, you
might be a little surprised with some of his replies. Just wish you could
have seen some of his facial expressions while talking. Very interesting!
Q: Brett, I noticed on your web site, in your “stats” section, part
of your occupation has “Manufacturer and Distributor of “The Plate” racing
equipment.” What exactly is “The Plate?”
A: The “Plate” is a devise that we use to scale cars. I really
haven’t marketed it really well, but I have some good “Word of Mouth”
sales. It enables you to scale the car and not have to have the tires on it.
It allows you to be more consistent in your scaling. It allows you to check
your “tow”, and also to make sure that your rear is straight. Check your
wheelbase more accurately. It is just a different way of scaling. Actually,
it is how we have done it over the last five or six years.
Q: So, this was actually your idea?
A: Yes. It was actually such a good idea that I used it for two
years, then I said, “Ah, sooner or later someone is going to get on to
this, so I might as well be the first one.”
One other thing I want to tell you: We are going to expand. Besides “The
Plate”, I am going to expand my line of parts. We’re coming up with a name
for it soon. I have some fiberglass parts, like “Ram Airs” and different
things, some ideas that I have come up with that I think are a little bit
better than what is out there now. We’re going to try to expand that line.
Q: Your first feature win, do you remember it?
A: I get a little mixed up between my first feature wins. I am
pretty sure my first feature win was at Nazareth. My second one, my first one at Middletown, we didn’t
actually win the race, we actually finished second, and the winner got
disqualified. It was Russ Meyer. I don’t even remember what he got
disqualified for. I “Backed in” to my first win at Middletown.
You have appeared at the Chili Bowl a couple of times. In ’97 you drove
a Wilke midget, and you did a good job down there. This past
year, you were one of a selected bunch that were invited to run
in a special race with the Ford Focus midgets. Your thoughts
on those two events?
A: Well, actually, I ran for Wilke two times. Both times we
made the “A” Main. Which was, in the Chili Bowl, is quite an
accomplishment in itself. At the time there were 160, 180
cars, and they only take 24 for the feature. Just to make the “A”
Main is quite an accomplishment. It’s a really cool event, a lot of fun.
This year, I really wanted to go back. I haven’t been there in a few years,
and I really wanted to go back there. This year, the promoter supplied the car.
It wasn’t quite as good a ride as what I had with Wilke, but, they were
Q: Not as good – because of the engine, or the car itself?
A: I don’t really know. I don’t know that much about them (the
cars), you know. I’m not sure what it was. We worked hard on the car all
Q: Last year, for the first time, DIRT went out to Eldora. They have
also gone to Charlotte.
Your thoughts about going to those two tracks?
A: Well, I mean I like anything that is out of the ordinary. I’ve
been around the DIRT circuit so many times, that, you know, you get kinda
bored with it. To get to run at a track with the reputation that Eldora
has, well, that’s pretty cool. And the fact that we went out there and won
the thing, and the way that we won, that was pretty cool. We changed tires,
came back from the back to win. Eldora was just pure fun. An incredible
place. I hope the race continues there. And the same for Charlotte. This year the track really
wasn’t in very good shape, but the first year, it was just a blast. It’s a
good time of the year to have that event. I just hope in the future that we
can get a handle on the surface there, and make something out of that
Q: A few years ago, well, quite a few years back, DIRT had an
Asphalt series with dirt cars. It started out with the typical Saturday
night cars, then it evolved into a series with specially made cars for the
asphalt. Do you think that the specially made cars that came out, helped
“lose” that series?
A: Yeah. The series, even though it got a pretty fair amount of
participation, was never really, other than a couple of races at Nazareth, really
wasn’t received real well by the fans. I don’t think they drew the type of
crowds that DIRT was hoping it would. And the fact that the DIRT/Asphalt
car was evolving. Every six months you had to have a new car. It was a very
expensive proposition. It was a very difficult thing to manage. It was like
you had a separate race team. It was so separate, with tires and wheels,
cars and chassis. Every thing was so completely different. I think the
original concept, you know, bring out your Saturday night car and run it on
the pavement on Sunday, that was a pretty cool idea, but in racing right
now, with technology the way it is, sooner or later the two are going to
Q: I mentioned this to you at the Go Kart track a couple of weeks
ago, my asking about your Busch racing with NASCAR. If things had been
different, back then, had you been more successful, do you think you would
be in Winston Cup racing today?
A: Yes. My original concept was pretty good. I was the right age. My
original idea was, well, I was not going to call up Richard Childress and
get a ride. Let me scrounge together family and friends and try to put a
car together, and we can showcase our ability, and, you know, maybe I can
catch a break. I told people, all the time, that I ran at the back of the
pack, with some guys that went on to do pretty well in Winston Cup. Jimmy
Spencer, Bobby Labonte, we all raced at the back of the pack. But those
guys were down there, and I was up here. I was so underfunded. I gave it a
shot. I stuck with it for almost four years, on a part time basis. Spent
all the money I had saved up from dirt racing. Spent my fathers money.
Spent Budd Olsen’s money. I mean I spent everybody’s money that I knew.
Just really couldn’t do it. I learned a lot.
Q: When, exactly was that?
A: That was in the eighties, ah, September of ’85 to the beginning
Q: You had one wild ride at Daytona?
A: I had a couple of them.
Q: On the subject of NASCAR, how did you and Tony Stewart get hooked
A: Actually, Tony sent one of his guys over, at Volusia, and said he
would like to drive my second car. Tony was running a Late Model, and said
he would like to take a ride in my car. One time, back in the early, I
guess it was maybe in the early ‘90’s, I was asked if Jeff Gordon could run
my second car up in Syracuse.
Nah, ya know? And then, well he is now a pretty famous guy.
Q: OK, you’ve competed in Go Karts, Midgets, Sprint Cars, Silver
Crown cars and DIRT Modifieds. Have you ever competed with an Asphalt
Modified or a Late Model?
A: Asphalt modifieds, no never. Came close a couple of times. The
way the DIRT schedule is, it really doesn’t leave much extra time for other
racing. Late Models, I have driven them a couple of times – Hagerstown. Dabbled a
little bit. Took a few laps at Volusia a couple of years ago.
Q: Is there much of a difference between the DIRT Modifieds and the
A: There used to not be, but now, the way the Late Models are now,
there is a big difference.
Q: Silver Crown cars: You ran one race with them?
A: We hauled out to Indy (Fairgrounds) and got rained out, after hot
laps, but I did run at Knoxville.
Q: What do you think about the Silver Crown cars?
A: I think if we could ever get those things to handle, as good as a
modified, we would have something. Those cars really don’t handle very
well. I don’t really know what the problem is (was), they either push or
they are loose, never in-between.
Q: A couple of weeks ago, we were talking at Oakland Valley
when you came up to watch your brother’s son race. You had to leave early
to go up to race the rain date at Albany Saratoga, a race you won. Were you
serious when you told me that you would have run a Kart then, but didn’t
because you had to leave?
A: Yes, if my brother had one for me, I would have run it.
Q: If the opportunity ever came up, again, would you consider
running a Kart at Oakland
A: Yeah, if every thing fell right. I mean it could never be on a
Q: You started out in Go Karts, a long time ago, at Oakland Valley, that was one of the tracks
you ran, with Bobby, I believe?
A: Actually, I was out of them when he started.
Q: The difference between Go Karts back then and those of today, is
A: Uh, yes. The Karts we had back then were, technically, pretty
decent, for the time. There wasn’t much adjustments back then. Now, there
is so much that you can work with and adjust. Bodies. We didn’t have bodies
on our Karts back then. The body work on the karts today, makes them look
better. Todays Karts are not a lot different, but there is some difference.
You know, like everything else.
Q: On your web site, it is mentioned that you support the National
Down Syndrome Society. Your son, Tyler, is afflicted with that. There are
other “Name” athletes, like Jim Kelly, that have children that have, shall
we say, “problems.” Have you ever communicated with any of these other
A: Not to much. I know Jim Kelly, well I don’t “Know” him, but I
know of him, through somebody else. I know that there are other athletes
that have taken on the task of making people aware of their situation, and
of the children. Sue and I have decided that that is what we would do also.
You know, try to use our “Status”, shall we say, to bring out some
Q: As of today, you have 616 career wins. You are only 84 shy of
700. You had 42 wins in 2002. It appears that number 700 will come about
late in 2004 or early 2005. That would be a milestone. Do you think you
could get 42 wins this year, like last year?
A: To get that many wins in a season, a lot of things have to fall
into the right places. We’re off to a pretty good start, but 42 would be
hard to get again. I’d be happy in the 30’s, as far as wins go. It depends
on how the Friday and Saturdays go. That is what pads your stats. It
depends on how consistent we are on those nights.
Q: Would you like number 700 to come in a big race, like Eastern States
A: Man, you never know. Never know how they are gonna come. My 500th
win I got in Florida.
My 600th in Canada.
Q: In 1986 you were voted the Eastern Motorsports Press Associations
“Driver of the Year.” In 2002, you
voted as EMPA’s “Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the
Year”. What do these awards mean to you?
A: That award, in particular, means a lot because it’s, well,
for a couple of reasons. One is, it’s essentially an impartial panel
of people who, well, to me, expresses respect for not only your
driving ability, but also what you have accomplished. To know that it
is an impartial panel, and to know that those people think so
highly of you. You know, that is important. I can never make everyone
like me, but I hope I can make everyone respect me. That really
showed me that kind of respect.
Q: Did you ever have the opportunity to meet Richie Evans?
A: Yes. One time I was traveling with a Sprint Car, actually with
Pete Haraka, who was quite friendly with Richie Evans. I believe we went to
Q: As you well know, there are many “Hearn Haters” out there. Both
you and I know why. Because you have been so successful. With the ease it
is for fans to see you in the pit area after the racing, do you get much
“Grief” from the fans?
A: No. I mean, I have had hecklers, before, on occasion, in the
past. Once you break down the fences, so to say, between the driver and the
fans, they are pretty civil.
Q: You have raced against most of the top drivers here in the
Northeast. Do you mind saying who you are most comfortable racing with?
A: Well, you know, if you take any of the, shall we say the “DIRT”
dozen, if you take any of the top dozen DIRT drivers, or even the top 15
drivers that are racing anywhere from 60 to 120 races a season, I mean,
those guys are the top of the field, there is no question about it. If you
take anybody, anybody who is even an accomplished driver from outside the
DIRT sanction, it doesn’t matter if they are from Jersey, “PA”, Delaware,
Western Pennsylvania, or anywhere else, if you put them up against DIRT’s
top dozen guys, at any “Tour” race, at ANY track, it doesn’t matter even if
it is a track we have never seen before – it doesn’t matter if it was
Volusia, or if it was in Charlotte, or even out in Eldora, and you bet
against those twelve guys? I guarantee you are gonna lose. These drivers I
race against all the time are the best in the business. They have control
of their cars. I mean, “Stuff” happens, on occasion, back and forth, once
in a while, but for the most part, there are no real big problems.
Q: There is a lot of talk today about the “Buschwackers” in NASCAR
Busch racing, drivers “Stepping down” from Winston Cup and taking the money
from the regular Busch drivers. Do you feel it is right for “Big Block”
drivers to do the same in DIRT, I mean go down and run with the Small
Blocks? Do you feel that it is acceptable?
A: I think that when the Big Block class was the “Premier” class,
and you had the Small Block class, well, the 320 class, was basically a “Sportsman”
class, they created another class, underneath the 358’s. And then they run
358 Modifieds as a “Premier” division at a lot of tracks, you know, whether
it be Brockville, Malta, Accord, you know, that
is their top class. That kind of opened up and changed the dynamics a
little bit. I don’t think that a Modified or a 358 Modified driver should
drop down to run in the Sportsman class. But as long as we have the
Sportsman class, and two Modified classes, I can’t really see anything
wrong with the Big Block guys running the Small Blocks.
Q: Occasionally, DIRT will have two “Big” races scheduled on the
same day, at different tracks, with the Big Blocks and the Small Blocks.
Usually “SDS” races. Your thoughts on this?
A: Well, what they have basically done, what they are basically
saying is, “We don’t want the same guy to win both championships. We would
like a 358 guy, a guy that runs the 358’s exclusively, to be the champion.”
BUT, the problem is, is, you have a situation like we had last year, where
Steve Paine had a decision do make by the end of the year. He was seventh
in Big Block points, I was second, or I was leading in Small Block points.
There is nobody that is more of a Big Block driver than Steve Paine, and he
decides to go over here and “Put Away” the other guys that couldn’t go.
Himself and Alan Johnson. And so, essentially, you’ve got a Modified driver
that won both divisions, anyway, but it just didn’t happen to be the same
guy. So, it really hasn’t accomplished what they wanted it to, and now this
year they’ve got three conflicting dates instead of two. Essentially, they
basically, they don’t care as much about the modified drivers running the
358’s, they just don’t want, ah, one guy to win both championships.
Q: Track conditions, today: It seems that the tracks of today have a
tendency to “Glaze” over, more so than they did a while back, plus they are
hard and slick. I kind of think it is the down force the cars have today,
along with the wider tires. Your thoughts?
A: It would be a part of that, definitely speaking. And the fact
that the cars are so much more hooked up. They really have a tendency to
dry the tracks out. And I also think that from a track preparation
standpoint, it is easier to create a smooth, hard track, and thus you have
less maintenance involved. They have taken that way, that way to save money
and to make life easier.
Q: The Tremont family: When they had their crisis a while back with
little Olivia, it was nice to see the Hearn family step in and offer
whatever assistance they could. Is there a special bond between the Tremont
and Hearn families, even though you are such competitors?
A: Well, I don’t think Kenny and I are really all that close. That
was more our wife’s doings. Kathy was real supportive of Sue, you know,
when Sue was going through that thing with Tyler. So, you know, what went around,
came around, so to say. We kind of supported them
Q: Over the course of your career, there have been many that have
helped you. Your Dad and Mom, Pete Van Iderstine, Budd Olsen, Eric Koster,
your wife, Sue and brother Bobby, and others. Anyone I might have missed?
A: Other than the obvious ones, Whitey, Bruce, etc., I have had guys
that have been around me for a real long time. Jay Castimore. Jay has come
and gone. He did his little thing at Fonda and at Middletown. That came around, and now he
is back here, because, well, ultimately, this is what he enjoys doing.
There is one guy who I owe a lot of gratitude to, who was associated with
Rite Aid/Auto Palace. That was Ted Puychyr. He stepped up and offered, um,
I met him at Daytona, and he was in charge of a lot of the sponsorship that
came out of Auto
Palace. He believed
in Brett Hearn enough to actually sign a sponsorship for me, when I didn’t
even have a shop. I thought that was rather extraordinary, that he had that
kind of confidence and trust in me, based just on my reputation alone. To
offer me a sponsorship so I could get my team back together again. I ran
into almost the same situation in ’96, when I ran into Pat Waters from
Anheuser- Busch. Actually, Pat Waters and Rich Wordon. Those guys were
extreme, uh, they were a team owners dream, because they not only were
willing to put a sponsorship program together with me, but they were very,
very, very enthusiastic in getting involved with the daily workings of the
team and the racing. I really enjoyed their, um Ted’s, Pat’s and Richie’s
participation. Kevand Cross. He really stepped in. When we got the Auto Palace sponsorship, he and I
partnered up and he bought a lot of stuff to my shop. Motors and a lot of
things that helped us get going. Mark Kenyon was very helpful to me through
the Freightliner years, and then after I broke away. He has always been a
good friend ever since that sponsorship.
Q: You are driving cars made by Bobby now. Can you compare these
cars to the others you have driven, in the past?
A: Well, the TEO car is the best thought out car that I have ever
driven. It wasn’t like building a frame, then hanging a body on it that
made sense. The car was thought through, from the ground up. The frame was
built, not only for what it is, but to accommodate the sheet metal and so
on. He wanted to build a body that was aerodynamically right. It’s a simple
car that is easy to work on. Well thought through, obviously. The “Proof is
in the Pudding”. I reluctantly, I did it, reluctantly. I had long ties with
Doug Olsen, and Budd, and I had, essentially, been a “Factory car” from day
one. When Bobby first started to put his frame together in ’95, I put one
together, rather reluctantly. Then we went out and won Syracuse in ‘95 with the car, and that
was pretty much what I needed to know, you know?
Q: Your wife, Sue, has written a book, “Martin and T.J.’s Race Car
Repair” Did you have any in-put, at all, as to what went into it?
A: No, nope, she basically did that from her own racing experiences.
As far as the story line goes, she did that all on her own.
Q: Your thoughts on the cost of racing today, and the purses?
A: Sore subject. I know that every year it comes increasingly
difficult to put more people in the stands with the show that we are
offering, and the length of the shows, I mean there are a lot of issues
that the fans don’t understand. But the fact that the purses have been so
stagnant over the last twelve years is really sad. And, uh, it’s gonna
catch up, soon. The fact is, all the other costs, for us, go up, just like
they do for the promoters, whether it be insurance, or the cost of fuel.
The cost of getting the cars to the tracks. The engines. That stuff has
gone steadily, steadily up, and up fairly rapidly. And the purses don’t,
just don’t reflect any kind of effort to keep up with the times.
Q: Looking over your accomplishments over the years, and there have
been many, is there anything special that you would like to add to your
A: I don’t really know, without doing something else, that there
would be a whole lot left that we could accomplish. Other than to win Syracuse one more
time. To win one more championship. My goal, over the last five years, steadily,
has been that we want to be the best number one team in our sport.
Hopefully to be a champion again. Hopefully to win Syracuse again. In the end, we want to be
recognized, I want to be recognized as the number one driver.
Q: OCFS: Any comments/thoughts about it’s past, present and future?
Do you think that them losing some of the “Name” drivers has hurt that
track? Would you like to see another “Tri Track” Series like there used to
be, between Flemington, Nazareth and Middletown, only this time, maybe with
Fonda, Lebanon Valley and Middletown?
A: Uh, the way that DIRT has their point thing structured, I don’t
think that really, there is a time for a Tri Track Series, unless those
tracks were willing to shut down their Modified class on those Saturday
nights, in the summertime, and I really don’t think they want to do that.
The problems at Orange
County are not
because Brett Hearn is not there, or Danny Johnson is not there. It is more
the facility, the fact that the track is leased, rather than owned. The
actual racing, itself is still good, from what I hear.
Q: Your thoughts about the possibility of more NASCAR Winston Cup
races being held on Saturday nights. It has been rumored that that will be
coming. How do you feel that will affect the Saturday night short tracks?
A: I think that it has a huge affect. I think that a lot of people
would rather stay at home, sit on the couch, and watch. It would be cheaper
for them, and they would still get their racing “fix”. If that trend
continues, I think it will really benefit the Friday night tracks.
Q: Well then, what about the Sunday night tracks?
A: Sundays are quite tough. You can make a Sunday night track work,
but the bottom line is that people have to get up early on Monday and go to
work. Sunday’s are a little tough. (My thoughts here: Plus there is the
possibility that you can lose some drivers on Sunday night that had
accidents on Friday or Saturday).
Q: Do you mind voicing your thoughts on the subject of drivers
losing their points, from DIRT, if they compete in a non DIRT sanctioned
race, when there is a DIRT race at the same time? Was there any response
from your sponsors, last year, when you had points taken away?
A: Sponsorship wise, we really weren’t affected. It was not an issue
with them. The fact is, we went to twenty-four of the twenty-six or so,
Series races, towards the end, and we and the fans were being told that we
were still in the top five in points, and we were up for other awards, like
leading the most laps in the series, and having the most poles.. That was
up until the day after Eastern States, when the infraction actually took
place in the beginning of September. (Note: this happened in the DIRT SDS
Small Block Series). There were press releases out up until the week before
Eastern States, stating that we were going to win these awards, and that we
were in the top five in points. I really can’t understand the whole thing.
The fact is, that some guys that came in 14th or 15th in points, and went
to about two of those events, and won their track championships, somewhere
like up in Ontario, Canada, and got paid, when a team that went to 24 of
the 26 races got all their money taken away. So, I’ll let you determine if
that was fair or not.
Q: You have always had a “Professional” appearance with your race
team, with you personally, and with your cars and haulers. This, no doubt,
has aided you, somewhat in having the sponsors that you have had. Are there
any tips that you can give to some up and coming drivers?
A: My deal has always been based on attention to detail. Whether it
was my very first hauler, which was a van, and an open trailer, it was
always very clean and nice, and it looked like more than it really was. And
that is the way I have always done that. And so if you can make it, you
don't’have to have the BIGGEST truck in the world, to make a presentation,
you can make a presentation with a very small, and, not, not have a ton of
money, but, your wheels have to be painted. Your tires have to look good.
Your race car has to be ready to race. Your crew could have the same color
T-shirts, or whatever it might be. Make a nice presentation, it doesn’t
have to be expensive. You’ll find that when people see your presentation,
and hopefully you can back up your presentation with performance, that
people will want to be part of your deal.
Q: Your family life when you were growing up. You and Bobby get
along pretty good?
A: Actually we are five and a half years apart, so when I was in my
late teens, he was still a kid. Bobby had his own agenda, and stuff, and we
didn’t really start working together until, gee, I really don’t remember
him working much on my car until, like the mid eighties. We’ve always had a
close family. Even my sister, Bonnie, because I think, and I think it was because
of racing. We’ve always been a close-knit family because we always had that
Q: I was going to ask if there were more than just you and Bobby.
Did Bonnie ever race?
A: She did, actually. She did race a little bit. Actually, when I started
racing Go Karts, she raced them too. She is between Bobby and me, age wise.
Q: I have seen your daughter, Brooke, at the Go Kart track on a few
occasions. Has she ever been interested in racing? Your thoughts, one way
or the other?
A: She likes to go watch her cousins, Matt and Kyle, race. I think
that has to be in your personality, you have to be aggressive and
competitive, and she is really not an “aggressive” person, and she’s well,
she’s just a girl. She just wants to be a girl, and that is fine.
Q: Over the years, you have competed against some of the best in the
business. Did you ever have any aspirations as far as running in the Indy
500? Any drivers that you would have liked to have competed against, that
you did not?
A: I was thinking about going Indy car racing way back in the, real
early in the ‘80’s. Seeing if I could get something going, like in Super
Vee. I went to Skip Barber.... Formula Ford...... I was testing out a lot
of different things, ya know. I thought that was pretty cool at one time,
ya know, but it was so out of reach at that time. The Busch thing was more
realistic. As it turned out, that was realistic at that time. As for
competing against others, that is hard to say. It’s a different era, now,
ya know. It’s hard to compare then to now. I think that the guys that were
dominant, the guys that were dominant up until the time of Gary Balough and
the Ferraiuolo brothers, they could beat guys just on pure skill. And then,
from the Gary Balough era, till now, you have to be able to drive and be
more technically orientated too. And that becomes even more so, as time
goes on. You know, good drivers finish fifth or sixth. A driver more
technically knowledgeable would win.
Q: As you are aware, there will be only one race up in Syracuse this year,
that being Super Dirt Week. What kind of future do you see up there? Can
you think of another track that might be able to have a Super Dirt Week?
A: Ya know, well, Syracuse is a
little like the Orange
County situation. But
Syracuse, Syracuse could never be replaced by any
short track. You can maybe create a big event at Charlotte, you could maybe create a big
event at Eldora, which probably will not happen because that is not the
grass roots of dirt ..DIRT. Like the rumors we have heard, the only place I
could see... coming remotely close, would be Rolling Wheels. And one of the
reasons for Rolling Wheels is it not only that they have the property now,
for camping, but because DIRT controls it. It is one of their tracks. No
matter how big an event you scheduled there, at Rolling Wheels, you could
never, never equal Super Dirt Week. You know, it is a mile track, and all
Q: Some comments on sponsor conflicts?
A: I think that NASCAR handles sponsor things a lot better than DIRT
does. For an example, all the time that we were sponsored by Auto Palace,
and the track was sponsored by Car Quest, there was always a conflict. We
couldn’t put up an Auto
Palace banner, we
couldn’t put up an Auto Palace FLAG on our TRAILER, in the pits. I mean
silly, silly stuff. I mean, ya know, I’ve got to survive, and you’ve got to
survive, ya know, where, I mean, this is MY spot in the pits....this is MY
trailer. What would be next, I mean, I have to come into the pits without
lettering on my trailer, because it is not your sponsor? You have to take
care of your own sponsors. And I’ll tell ya what, I think that uh... when
Emerson Fittapaldi won the Indy 500 a few years back, he wouldn’t drink
milk, he drank orange juice, because he owned an orange grove. So, ya know,
and so forth.
Q: Your thoughts about “Multi car” time trialing? Would you like to
see some changes in the operations of DIRT?
A: The time trials, originally, I said, “Man, I don’t know how
that’s going to work. I’m not sure about that.” But, I’m a big advocate of
time trials, I think it is the fairest way to align the cars. I think it
saves a lot of equipment. It is a lot less wear and tear on our stuff. So,
I like time trials. I think it is the fairest way to do a race, to do a big
event. And, if putting three cars out on the track, at a time, speeds up
the time trials, because the fans do not want to sit there and watch one
car at a time, I’m fine with that. Sometimes they’ve tried...... one thing
I am NOT in favor of, and they have tried this at a couple of different
places, they actually tried it, they used hot laps for time trials. That
has been a complete mess. The two or three car format, depending on the
size of the track, seems to be fairly manageable, and very fair. One thing,
one better thing that it also presents, is that you don’t see a big huge
change between the first car that goes out in time trials, and the last car
that goes out in time trials, which sometimes on dirt can be a big problem.
As far as DIRT is concerned, I would like to see them be more aggressive.
There are some serious issues that they have to go get in the near future.
I would like to see our TV deal get going. We’ve been paying the price for
this TV thing for ten years now, and if anything, this TV thing has been
going backwards, but there is some hope that maybe soon we will be on Speed
Channel. We should have a consistent time slot and a consistent night, make
something that the fans can turn on to, not a hit and miss type of thing.
Q: Any comments about us losing tracks, like Flemington and Nazareth. Can you see
this happening to other speedways?
A: That is part of development, the way things go, ya know, like
“Urban Sprawl”, and all that stuff. Tracks that were at one time, out in
the middle of nowhere, are now, like, in the middle of a city. That’s just
a natural thing. There is talk of East Windsor.
Then you have a track that has been revived, like New Egypt. I guess some
will go and some will come. When the track conditions are right at New
Egypt, it’s a beautiful facility. First class, all the way.
Q: Any thoughts about the rumored sale of DIRT?
A: It is anybody’s guess at this point. We have to speculate as to
how much more Glenn wants to do. He is getting up there in age, and is
maybe thinking about retiring, and whether or not he has anything of value
that he might want to sell. I think the future of this is really held in
Glenn’s hands. You need the right people to come along, like the “Extreme
Dirt Car Series”. Two young guys, very aggressive, and were able to put a
TV package together. It’s like anything else today, like a business, if you
are not on top of it, every day, then it is not going anywhere.
Q: Do you think that TV would really help DIRT?
A: I don’t know if it would help, I mean, it’s not going to bring
millions of dollars to the league, ya know. The biggest thing is, if you
are going to do TV races, whether they are live or on tape, you have to
have a set night, like we had at one time. We had “Thursday Night Racing Live”
, and it was really starting to get popular, then FOX went and bought
Sports Channel, and we got cut off. Now we have the hope that this Speed
Channel thing has gotten bigger, and maybe we can make that work. But the
biggest thing is not whether we are on Speed Channel, but whether we can
get a steady time slot. Let people know when we are on there, then they can
go home and turn on to it that night.
Q: Car numbers: Any special reasons why you had numbers like 20, 77,
72, 6, 1 and 3?
A: The number 20 came about because it was my dad’s number. It came
to him when he bought a car, he bought a used car in the late ‘60’s, and
went to repaint it. He hadn’t sanded the numbers off well enough, and when
he re-painted the car, the numbers still showed through, so he thought that
he would just keep that number. When I first started racing Go Karts, of
course I wanted to use my dad’s number, so I had 20 on my Kart. The 77 was
Pete’s number. It really was number 7D7, and they dropped the “D” when I
came to drive for them. I have no idea as to where that number came from.
The 72, came with the Auto
That was their number, and they had cars in various divisions at the time
and the wanted them all to have the same number. I don’t really know why
they were 72’s, it was just the sponsors number. The 6, at Freightliner,
that came from the fact that I was 20 and they were 26, and we wanted a
single digit number, so it was either “2” or “6”, and it ended up as number
6. The 3, the 3 came from, well, really, it was a number that came from
nowhere. I wanted to re-invent my “Look” with a new major sponsor. I wanted
to change, since I really did not have any strong feelings for the number
72. And, again, I wanted to pick a single digit number so I would have more
space for sponsorship. Three was not really being used by anybody in the
modifieds, it was sort of like a cool number that nobody was really using.
The number one, was Gable’s number. And we did use the number one on the
Miller/Pyroil car, when we had the black car. The reason we had the number
1 was because that was Kevand Cross’s number, and Kevand and I had kind of
partnered up with that car.
Q: Your career, what might the future hold, if you don’t mind
talking about it?
A: I’m looking for other opportunities. I don’t know if I want to
continue to run a hundred races, ya know, ten years from now.
Q: Would you like to comment on your career overall? You have been
A: No. Wait until I am done. When I write a book about it.
At the conclusion of the interview, I naturally thanked Brett for taking
the time to sit and chat. Was I in “Awe” of this man? In a way, I think I
must have been, at least a little bit. When I replayed the tape, there were
some things that I had completely forgotten about. Guess I was just a
little fascinated in having the chance to finally get this interview. So,
again, I want to extend my thanks to Brett. It was a real pleasure. Next, I
suppose, it will be his brother, Bobby, or his wife, Sue, that I will be
interviewing. I know that they both have said no problem with doing it.
As for all of you that took the time to read this, I sure hope you enjoyed
it. I hope that there were a few things that came out that you might not
have been aware of. Brett is really a joy to talk to. If you ever get the
chance, by all means, have a little chat with him. I am sure you will be
glad you did.