Brazier Earns Third World Classic at BIR On Emotional Night
It’s safe to say that all of the 24 teams in the starting lineup for Saturday night’s World Classic at Birmingham International Raceway wanted to win the race. And not only did they each want to win the $10,000 check that went along with first-place, but they also wanted to win the race for fellow racer Charlie Bradberry.
Bradberry called BIR his home track. And he was good there. In fact, the last two years, Bradberry was the one coming home with the $10,000 winner’s check, winning the 2004 and 2005 World Classics.
regular, brought out Charlie’s #78 Super Late Model, just as Charlie left it, and paced the field before the start of the event.
The fans that were in the stands and braving the chilly weather, stood in remembrance as Gary fired up the red #78 and paced the field. Finally, Gary pulled the car into BIR’s Victory Lane, where Charlie spent plenty of time himself. Gary then stepped out of the car, stood on the door and bowed to the crowd… a fitting remembrance of Charlie’s now-famous winning celebration.
So it was fitting that another Alabama driver… and the only other driver other than Charlie to ever win more than one World Classic… was the one in Victory Lane at the end of the night,
“I really wanted to win this one for my good buddy Charlie,” said eventual race winner Johnny Brazier. “I really wanted to win this one for him. I miss him. It means everything to me. We got pretty close with Charlie, his father and his brother a couple of years ago. We used their hauler to go to California to Irwindale. They hauled our car out there with theirs. We got to be pretty good friends off of that. Ever since then, we’ve just been friends.”
Bradberry's #78 paced the field before this weekend's World Classic. (51 Photos)
Coming into the night, Bradberry and Brazier were the only two drivers to have won two World Classics. Now Brazier had three.
“I guess, this third one is the sweetest. I’ve been a little down and had some bad luck the last couple years. I guess things are looking back up now. I guess it would have been the perfect weekend if I could have got the pole last night. I’ll take this though. This is better than the pole any day.
“We’ve just been working really hard. We also got some of Frankie Grill’s cars right now. He and Augie have been helping us a lot. That is the key. If you look at the top
But just a month ago, Bradberry lost his life in an automobile accident not far from his home after working on his racecar. Since then, the entire short track racing community has reeled from the loss. Many have honored Bradberry, from stickers on racecars to honorary “lap 78” tributes to awards named in his honor.
Saturday night’s World Classic was run in honor of Bradberry. The Pole Award was named after him. Banners hung around the track with Charlie’s name on it.
But the most moving part of the night was seeing Bradberry’s red #78 back out on the track. Gary Bradberry, Charlie’s older brother and a former NASCAR
three cars tonight, it was all GARC cars. It’s not just mine that is running good. All of them are running good.”
Brazier was one of the cars to beat all night. After starting second, the Lickskillet, Alabama driver took the point for the first time in lap 47, fittingly passing Ken McFarland.
Brazier and McFarland battled the rest of the night. Augie Grill, Dave Mader III and Heath Hindman all spent time of front, but when the pits stops worked out, it came right back to Brazier and McFarland.
Once Brazier got back in the lead on lap 103, it was a two-car battle. McFarland got right up to Brazier’s bumper, but was never able to make the pass for the lead.
“Our cars and lap times were pretty equal. We just happened to be out front. The best place I could be.”
McFarland did everything he could.
“I was trying to save tires there for a while and he would come to me,” said McFarland. “In that long green-flag run, he came to me and I was watching him spin the tires and I though I had him where I wanted him. Then, the cautions came back out and he was able to save his tires. He didn’t give up as much as I thought he would.
The fact that Bradberry's #78 sat right in front of Brazier's #71 made the night even more sweet.
“Our car was good on the long runs. I knew he was working his tires hard. He just had his car figured out.
“You are here in front of your home crowd, so its tough to get that close. You have to do all you can though. Johnny Brazier has been racing for a long time. He knows what he is doing. And I don’t do this full-time. It is hard to come out here and beat guys who only think about racing. I’ve gotta go sell cars during the car. But I’m not complaining. I’m just glad to be able to come out here and participate and have good runs.”
Grill, who stayed out and led laps when everyone else
Ken McFarland's #14
“Those last few laps, I was wanting to win it so bad, just so I could get out and dedicate it to Charlie because he meant so much to me and everyone else out here,” said Brazier. “There are just really no words to explain it. There are so many emotions, I can’t explain it. I wanted it really bad.
“My car started getting loose off the corner. I started backing up there. I guess I was slowing down. I just didn’t want to make a mistake and just give it to him. So I started slowing down and driving a little bit more under control rather than on the ragged edge. He is running second and he has nothing to lose. He was going for it.
pitted, was able to work himself back up to third at the end. Teddy Musgrave Jr finished fourth, with Dennis Reno Jr. fifth.
ANDERSON FAST EARLY
Its not very often that Wayne Anderson goes out of the state of Florida anymore. The short track veteran doest race as much as he used to. But when he does go out of state, he does it in style.
Anderson has always been good at BIR when he visits the central-Alabama track. He proved that again on Saturday night, winning the pole for the World Classic.
Anderson then proceeded to jump out front and lead the first 34 laps of the event. However, on lap 34, Anderson got into the turn one wall and retired from the event.
A total of 24 cars started the World Classic, but only 11 of them finished the event. Several big-named drivers dropped out of the event for various reasons. Wayne Anderson, Mike Fritts, Dave Mader III, Justin South, Stanley Smith and Heath Hindman all failed to finish the event.
Augie Grill likes to win. But sometimes, even he knows that sometimes, he has to concede to not being the best.
“I was the third best car tonight,” said Grill. “That is all there was to it. Our only chance was to wait later and go for it. We gave it our all. We were just third-best this time around.”