The saying goes, “Once you get the first, the rest come easy.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth for Riverhead Raceway (NY) racer Howie Brode. Brode captured his first NASCAR Modified championship at the track in 1998, but wasn’t able to secure his second title until the 2013 season, 15 years after capturing his first. Lucky for him, he didn’t have to wait nearly as long for his third.
Brode of East Islip, New York came out of the gates like a rocket ship in 2014 and held off his toughest challenger, Tom Rogers, Jr., down the stretch to capture back-to-back track championships at the Long Island bullring and third overall.
“My guys worked so hard and it just was good to come back and start off winning races,” Brode told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It was good. I had a lot of fun.”
Brode, a 50-year-old Riverhead Raceway veteran, is known for being a relatively quiet person. It’s not often that he gets too worked up about things while at the race track. He used that same, quiet demeanor that he’s used throughout his career to win the track championship by 53 points over Rogers.
“I go there to have fun and try to do my best there every week,” he said.
He’s definitely done that the last two seasons. Brode’s back-to-back championships were aided by his nine wins over the course of the past two seasons. He scored five wins in 2013 and four this past season.
But the middle portion of this season was a bit of a struggle for Brode. It seemed that whatever could go wrong did go wrong for him all the while Rogers, Brode’s closest competitor in the standings, rattled off a bunch of victories to close the gap.
“We just were getting beat,” he said. “I don’t know the answer there. I thought the car was good a lot of those weeks. Just didn’t have the results.”
The Modified division at Riverhead had some difficulties this season with car counts dropping dangerously close to single-digits. The longtime racer has seen the car counts rise and fall over the years and he’s hoping that they’ll pick up again next season. Brode said that when the counts are up, and when some of the area’s better drivers come, that it just makes for a much better race.
“I like when the good guys come like when (2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion) Ryan Preece is there and (2011 NWMT champion) Ron Silk are there,” he said. “I don’t know what they do but that’s the best in the country. So when you’re racing against the best in the country you just have a better race when they come.”
But regardless of how many cars do or don’t race next season the goal remains the same for Brode. Win. He wants a fourth championship. And he sees no reason why he can’t have a three-peat.
“Just keep doing the same thing we were doing,” he said. “That’s really all I can keep doing.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, CT and NJ) -Twitter: @RobBlount
Feature Photo Credit: Rich Frost Photo.