On December 9, I had the opportunity to interview Gary Bradberry to follow-up on my video biography of him from earlier this month. The following is just an excerpt from the one-hour interview, the audio of which will be posted soon to my YouTube channel. This segment focuses on Bradberry's early ARCA career in 1994, including a particularly memorable weekend in Flat Rock.
Was there any significance to running the number 78 or those red paint schemes?
I always loved red and my little brother Charlie loved red, so the only (color) we ever raced was red. And I'll tell you the story on the 78 - I went to work at a motorcycle shop. . .my first Yamaha racing go kart and I got we started selling them at the motorcycle shop and I got interested in the go kart racing. That's how I got into the go-kart racing. So they let me start driving. They had a they had a complimentary shop motorcycle racing team this shop did, and so they decided to promote sales they would start running a few go-kart races to promote the go-kart sales, and they let me drive the go-kart. I'd become their go-kart driver. And that shop - that motorcycle shop - their shop number on the motorcycle and on the go-kart was 78 and that is how I got the 78. I just stuck with it from the from the go-kart racing back when I worked at that little motorcycle shop and that's how the 78 come about. And it was a strange thing though - the Triad Motorsports team that had 78, everybody a lot of people leave until this day thanks that was mine, the Pilot car and the Hanes car was my race team because of the number. But it was just strictly a coincidence that I got hired to drive that car because the number had absolutely nothing to do with that I was hired to drive it.
So, what's this about an ARCA race at Flat Rock in 1994, where your equipment was stolen?
We went to Detroit, to Michigan for the Flat Rock race and we stayed in the Detroit suburbs and normally we carried our our hauler rig which had living quarters in it. But normally, somebody went along with the vehicle, but this particular trip we all went in the hauler rig and the trailer. And we got up there, got our motel, spent the night. We had to be at the track the next morning for practice. It was a one day show, just a one day show. So we got up the next morning and a guy come to my room and asked me why we moved our hauler truck. And I said, 'I didn't move the hauler truck.' And he said, 'Well, it's not there.' I kinda laughed - I thought it was a joke, and I walked outside and the hauler rig was gone, and the awning at the office of the motel was half tore down. And about this time, the motel people are jumping all over us telling us we're gonna pay for that awning, and we don't even know what they're talking about.
Well come to find out, we finally come to reality to figure out the hauler rig has been stolen. The lady in the office said, 'Well, yeah, 'cause y'all left out of here about - somebody's getting in it about four o'clock in the morning, and they didn't make that turn, and they caught the awning on the motel and tore it down. So we realized then what happened. We called the police and there we sat on the sidewalk - the motel was booked that night, we didn't have any room. There we sit on the sidewalk with our luggage and no hauler rig, no nothing. And I was running for points that year and I had a good chance of finishing, you know, second, third, fourth - I was running for the Rookie of the Year was the main thing. And everything we owned - spare motors - everything we owned, was in that in that tractor trailer. I mean, we were out of business - we was out of the racing business at that time.
And about two hours later, the police pulled up in the parking lot, and told us 'Look, we found your hauler rig, but it's been wrecked, and it's been towed to an impound area,' or whatever you want to call it. So we're thinking if some of the stuff is just still in it, which we didn't have much expectations of that. But they carried us to this impound yard. As far as the hauler rig being wrecked, it was the damage on the trailer from running into the awning overhang at the motel. It had a flat tire on the trailer. The living quarters of the hauler rig had been tore up and the TV and VCR all that stuff was gone. And we went back to the back and opened the door on our trailer, and we had left late and set a new spare motor right in the door, and would you believe the people that robbed us, they never even opened the door on that trailer. Two boxes, motor, everything was sitting right inside that door, so there it had not been touched. So we get on the phone right quick and call and get in touch with somebody at ARCA at the track. It's about lunchtime now there. They're fixin' to practice and we go to the we put a tire on it, we go to the track. ARCA practice is almost over, and they let me have about five laps practice. I go out qualify. I qualify dead last. I start in the rear and we come from dead last and won the race. We took the lead with I don't know 10 or 12 laps I guess to go. What a wild weekend. We never made a change on the car from the time it left the racetrack here. We started the race with it just like it left. So that was a pretty wild weekend. It really was.
Was that the only car you had in ARCA that season?
That was the only short track car I had. That year, we had one short track car, and then we had an intermediate car for you know Atlanta, places like that. Then we had our superspeedway car and that was that was all of our cars. But our spare motor and stuff was in the trailer and our pit stuff---I mean if we hadn't have got the trailer back, we would have been shut down for the rest of the year because I mean everything we owned stayed in that trailer. So that was a miracle that we got that trailer back and that the trailer hadn't been broken into. . .And it was kind of funny, the race started and I had an old dirty wore-out practice suit - driving suit - and I always practiced in it and I put on my new suit for the race. And the guy that crew chiefed and all got aggravated at me, told me I had to change. I said I'm not changing nothing - I said I'm wearing this suit. All I wanna do is get this race behind us and go home. (Laughs) And I won the race and I got that dirty old wore out nasty driving suit in pictures. So I guarantee that was the last thing on my mind was having a shot at winning that race cuz that little track is tough to pass on anyway and then we were starting in the rear. But man, of all times in the car was just great. And it was pretty neat weekend.