Feature Article, Open Wheels, Washington — July 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Brandon Berg (Issue 104)

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IT-104 May issue in progress_Inside Track template

 

By Steve Heeb

Brandon Berg got his first taste of the racing community working on Seth Bergman’s car after the 2011 season.

“I was just wrenching and cleaning the car, but it was fun,” Brandon recalls of helping out during the off-season. “I saw how everything worked.”

Brandon was slated to go on the road with Seth, but work duties came up.

“It got busy at Superior Marine and that kept me here,” he says of the missed opportunity.

But often when one door closes another opens.

During a car search, the Steve Bergman pointed Brandon to an affordable ’89 Prelude that Brandon could prepare as his own race car.

“Steve came to help me work on the car,” Brandon says of getting his new ride ready for the 2012 season at Skagit Speedway as the No. 72 Hornet.

Brandon would quickly discover that watching racing is not the same as being in the thick of competition.

“The yellow came out and I did not know what I was doing,” he recalls of the first caution in his very first race. “I thought it would be just like roughing it around the field but there is more to it.”

Perhaps more so with the Hornets compared to the other purpose-built race cars.

“Front-wheel drive cars are challenging,” he says of putting cars designed for the street into a dirt track racing environment. “You have to do some trail braking to get them to turn.”

The team would go through three parts cars during the tough first year, especially necessary after a mid-season incident with Clint Meins put their safety measures to the test.

“We were running five cars wide and I hit Clint really hard,” Brandon explains. “I had bruises from the belts.”

Brandon overcame the first-season challenges and posted 9th overall while earning the Rookie-of-the-Year title.

Before the 2013 campaign, Steve again led Brandon to another race car after one of his employees had a traffic accident.

“He wrecked it on the highway,” Brandon explains. “It was totaled so I got it for $900.”

Brandon and the Bergmans got to work preparing the ’92 Prelude.

“We beefed up the bumpers and took the cage out of a CRX and made it fit,” Brandon says.

Brandon has been pleased with the results of their efforts.

“We put the car together and it almost drives itself,” he explains. “It’s like a perfect Hornet driving on rails. It just goes.”

Charles Petersen has watched Brandon’s racing develop since the start of the 2012 season.

“He’s a good guy and a good driver,” Charles says. “He’s got a little bit to learn, but he’ll get there.”

“I still feel new to it,” Brandon adds. “I’m learning the lingo.”

“His driving skills have improved a lot from last year to this year,” Charles continues. “I expect to see him in a modified or a sprint car in the future.”

Skagit Speedway trackside reporter Kaleb Hart agrees.

“Should he want to continue upwards into other divisions, Brandon will have similar success to what he is having now,” Kaleb predicts. “I see a skill set that will translate to other styles of car quite nicely.”

Brandon credits his parents and grandparents for their continued support, as well as plenty of guidance and support from the Steve and Terri Bergman; the Bergman’s crew chief Mel Roberts; Charles and Brad Petersen; and Brett Miles.

“Brett’s my go-to guy,” Brandon says. “He’s there every weekend and helps me out a lot – great mechanic all around.”

Brandon also is quick to credit help from Pete Petersen Motorsports, Superior Marine, Corridor Electric, Metron Metal Finishing; and Powder Coating, Inc.

“Having a good car and good sponsors helps,” Charles says with a nod to the Outlaw Tuner Cars 2013 Dirt Cup preliminary feature win Brandon notched. “After watching last night’s race there’s not much improvement needed.”

Brandon says he received the best piece of advice from Steve Bergman: “Go high and get up next to the wall. Don’t be afraid of it.”

Brandon also is open to the luck factor.

“I have a 50-cent piece in my helmet bag,” he explains. “I’m not sure where it came from but it seems to work.”

Lucky coin or not, something does seem to be working.

“It’s been a really good season so far,” Brandon says of the first half of the 2013 campaign. “Last year I had a lot of room for improvement. Now we’re going to try for the championship.”

Brandon encourages other race fans to take the plunge and give racing a try.

“If you are even thinking about racing, do it!” he says. “Take your hunk of junk and turn it into a Hornet.”

 

 

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