From the top row of the grandstand, Brady Bacon’s USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series championship last season appeared pretty much status quo as the native of Broken Arrow, Okla., wheeled the iconic No. 69 Hoffman Auto Racing entry to the series title for a third time.
Behind the scenes, however, this latest championship was considerably different than those earned in 2014 and 2016 as Bacon’s role has transitioned from hired driver to now include the responsibilities of team owner and general manager.
“I’m pretty proud of the team I’ve put together. My wife (Xia Xianna) and I own the team,” Bacon told SPEED SPORT. “We have a partnership with the Hoffmans, but most of the equipment — the truck and things like that — we own. I’m proud of the relationships throughout my career that have gotten me to this point and to be able to have a team that’s been as successful as we have is a testament to the relationships we’ve built with people over the years.
“Winning a third USAC championship means a lot. Last year, like I said, all of the equipment was run out of my shop in Union City, Ohio, so this is the first time I’ve won a championship that way. That made this one a little sweeter than the first two.”
Born into a racing family, Bacon is following in the tire tracks of his grandfather, Ted, and father, Leon.
“My dad was pretty successful throughout the 1990s, racing sprint cars at Tulsa Speedway. Obviously, my family was involved in racing so it was natural for me to get involved at a young age,” said Bacon, who was racing quarter midgets prior to attending kindergarten. “The first few years were pretty inconsequential and I’m sure they were pretty frustrating for my dad, being as competitive as he is. A 5- or 6-year-old kid doesn’t quite have the same competitiveness as an older kid. When I was about 8 or 9, we began having quite a bit of success in the quarter midgets and transitioned into the micro sprints pretty quickly after that.
“I kind of flipped the switch as far as being really competitive everywhere we went when I about 12 or 13,” Bacon continued. “We traveled a little bit more with the 600 micro sprints and won races all over the country. Pretty much everywhere we went we had a shot to win.
“Then, I started racing a sprint car my dad had driven and didn’t do anything spectacular. In 2005, I ran a few midget races for Mike Eubanks in the Tel-Star car and 2006 was when the ball really got rolling.”
Bacon will celebrate his 31st birthday late this month and the father of three has matured into one of nation’s top open-wheel racers. He’s won in each of USAC’s three premier series, but it is in the sprint car division where he is building a legacy. To accompany his three titles, Bacon has 35 victories and is tied for 10th with Rich Vogler and Jon Stanbrough on the list of USAC sprint car feature winners.
When asked who has had the biggest influence on his career, Bacon is unable to narrow his response to a single person.
“As far as knowledge, definitely my father as we worked on all of our stuff ourselves,” Bacon noted. “He had built some of his own cars and he built my quarter midgets. He taught me the basis for my mechanical knowledge and my approach to racing, which is my desire to be directly involved. Usually, I’m not quite as successful when I just show up and drive.
“And then Mike and Megan Eubanks were most influential as far as giving me an opportunity. They gave me my first opportunity in a midget, my first taste of success in a non-winged sprint car and my first shot at a winged sprint car. They helped me start my own team as well. Without them my story would look a lot different.”
With the start of the new season just weeks away, Bacon is focused on a fourth USAC title.
“We’re going for the USAC championship again, and it will be the Hoffman 69 team,” he said. “We also have some other cars here at my shop that we run when we’re not running USAC. We’ll run some of the higher-paying, regional non-winged sprint car events, things like that, and I’ll probably run a handful of winged sprint car races like we usually do as well.”
Five years down the road, Bacon expects his racing activities to look “pretty similar.”
“I’m happy doing what I’m doing. The USAC schedule makes it so you can run for a championship and it pays pretty good,” he said. “Non-winged sprint cars are a lot more economical than winged sprint cars, so it makes it a lot easier to run a successful campaign and be competitive.
“Also, the travel is a little more manageable than some of the other series. I have three kids. My oldest just started school and that changes things a lot. Being able to be home most of the time is a big advantage. I can race 100 times a year and not be on the road as much as someone who races 70 times with some other series. I like doing what I’m doing and we are going to continue honing and refining what we do.” n