Broken Arrow Native Loves the Dirt Tracks
By GLENN HIBDON
DIRT RACER: Brady Bacon rolls on the dirt tracks.
MIKE HOWARD Photo
Broken Arrow native Brady Bacon has a special relationship with dirt. The dirtier he gets, the more he likes it.
Don’t mention asphalt to the 27-year-old open wheel racer. He won’t have it. NASCAR? Forget it. Bacon is after the Triple Crown and he wants to do it on – wait for it – dirt.
“Dirt track racing is more exciting. You go 30 laps wide open and you don’t wait around,’’ says Bacon, who won the 2014 and 2016 national sprint car championships. “You just go 100 percent, and everyone is on edge more. NASCAR might be losing its momentum, and dirt track racing has picked up. It’s more popular than ever with fans.’’
Bacon’s biggest fan is his father Lightnin’ Leon, a legendary figure around the old Tulsa Speedway who taught his son the tricks of the trade. Dad was the impetus behind his boy’s success and, this Bacon bit didn’t fall far from the pits.
“I always knew I wanted to race for a living, probably in sprint cars or midgets,’’ says Bacon, now living in Winchester, Indiana. “As a kid I watched my dad race at Tulsa Speedway and Port City, and I started at age five in a quarter midget. That’s what we did on weekends, and I liked it.’’
Bacon was a natural right out of the chute. He won a couple of quarter midget track titles and quickly grew into a dirt-track demon.
“I guess it took me a couple of years to get competitive and fired up,’’ he says. “When you start out young, it’s like tee ball or anything else. I didn’t get settled in until I was seven or eight.’’
Bacon tried playing other sports but always came home to his first love, getting dirty. Now he counts grandfather Ted, mother Kelly, wife Xia Xianna and his father in his “crew.’’
“The success and foundation for my career is based on my dad,’’ Bacon says. “As I got older, I got self-motivated with more help from him. He told me what I was doing wrong and how to work on the car. He was like a coach helping a basketball player.
“I think Dad had more ability to race than I did, but I had more knowledge of the mechanical end. That’s as important as the driving ability. It’s like basketball; some players are naturally gifted and some have to work harder.’’
Bacon says his driving style, compared to his father’s, is vastly different.
“He has a more wide-open style, and I’m more calculated. I use patience and keeping waiting for things to play out and come my way,’’ says Bacon, a graduate of Grace Christian School. “That’s the way I grew up. When he raced, he had to start in back and didn’t have time to wait. He had to make it work for him.’’
It appears that Bacon’s patience is paying dividends. He’s running the full midget series this summer, driving for Mike and Megan Eubanks of Sapulpa, and was leading in points in mid-June. It’s another step in winning the Triple Crown, sprint, midget and Silver Crown national championships.
“I’d like to win a World of Outlaws sprint car race. I’ve finished second a couple of times,’’ Bacon says. “That’s one thing I would like to mark off my list. I’m running for the midget championship this year and I also want to win the Silver Crown 100-inch wheelbase title on the bigger tracks.’’
Bacon says he’s trying to become more proficient in his winged sprint car, running 35 races along the World of Outlaws circuit this season. Placing his name alongside past greats is also important to him.
“There is a long history of big names on the list like Stewart, Andretti and Foyt. They all won championships,’’ Bacon says. “It’s cool to be included on the list. I was really good in non-wing sprint cars, driving the Hoffman car full time for four years. I’m one of the few people who run all types of sprints and midgets. I cover all the bases.’’
As Bacon sizzles on dirt tracks, the family legacy continues to grow. Brady said his father won “a couple of 600cc micro national championships and could have won more if he had decided to take that route (traveling). He had a job and solid income rather than go pro. He had the ability to race professionally.’’
The father of a two-year old girl and a seven-month old boy, Bacon is foreseeing the day that the family torch could be passed forward.
“I would give her the opportunity to race if she wants it, but it’s a little more difficult for girls to be successful,’’ says Bacon. “In dirt racing, you don’t plan too far ahead. You do what the circumstances dictate.’’
Until and if the time comes for his kids to follow in his footsteps, Bacon will continue running 120 races a year, including trips to Australia, and “having fun.’’ His goal is having a “long and successful career.’’ For Bacon, that translates into turning dirt into dollars.