Drag Racing, Feature Article, Washington — July 16, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Norm Braedt (issue 107)


IT-107 Stormin Norman Braedt Orange Vega

By Steve Heeb

It took a truck to help Norm Braedt find the path from Tacoma to Bremerton Raceway.

“I had been building cars all my life,” he recalls. “Then I built a ’68 Chevy with a performance motor so I brought it out to the dragstrip.”

He appreciated the friendly atmosphere at Bremerton and kept racing the truck for the 2007 season.

By the next year he was running the Pro bracket in a ’72 Vega formerly owned by veteran Unlimited hydroplane pilot and Northwest drag racer George Woods.

“In school I used to watch the big names when they would race at Thun Field,” he says of seeing drivers like Don Garlits, Jerry Ruth and Connie Kalitta compete at the Puyallup airstrip before briefly taking up the sport himself. “I found that racing is a lot more exciting than I had expected.”

Four decades later, Norm has had the chance to rack up his own seat time at Northwest dragstrips, including Bremerton, Pacific Raceways, Yakima, Spokane, Boise, Woodburn and Shelton.

“I love Woodburn the most,” he says. They seem to have a smoother track and the events are run efficiently. We get to finish the races.”

But Norm just appreciates the thrill of competition.

“They are all good,” he says of the events that he runs. “The races are all worth it or I would not be out here. You don’t have to win to have fun.”

On race days, wife Nancy serves as his pit crew but Norm also credits the help of racing buddy Frank Rhodes.

“We used to run Pro together,” Frank says. “We still hang out at the track together.”

Frank fields a ’70 Nova in Pro, but by the end of the 2013 season Norm had started racing in the Super Pro bracket.

The Hugger Orange Vega is powered by a Dart 400 small block motor with 31x14x15 Goodyear slicks gripping the launch pad.

By mid-July, Norm held third at Pacific Raceways and was ranked in the top-10 at Bremerton.

“I’ve worked on the car to get it consistent,” Norm says. “And my lights have improved. I’m miles ahead of where I was when I started.”

Perhaps that distance is better measured in quarter miles.

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