Brandon White has had a history of overcoming obstacles and finding a way to win in his racing career. The 19-year-old racer will be looking for the same scenario to play out this season as he chases a title in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series. Brandon White Racing and the Joiner Motorsports team will once again combine their efforts to chase wins and a championship in a state of the art car.
White began his driving career on the dirt tracks of Northern California and Southern Oregon at the age of six, where he learned car control. The Eureka, California racer started off slow, but was soon winning nearly half his starts in the dirt Outlaw Go-Karts while moving up through the ranks and having fun. In 2009, he finished fourth in the Red Bluff Outlaws Nationals, one of the biggest races on the West Coast of its kind.
In 2010 White made the move to pavement with the Ron Sutton Driver Development Program full time.
“We applied for this program, which we were told about, and were selected to participate in it driving USAC Western Pavement Ford Focus Midgets,” he told Speed51.com presented by JEGS. “We raced three races the first year (2009) and then a full out 20-race schedule the next two years”.
During his first season, White was the USAC Western Pavement Young Guns Champion and NorCal Young Guns Champion winning three events and finishing in the top five every race. 2011 saw him place second in points in the USAC Ford Focus Midgets placing in the top six in every race. He also participated in four Young Gun events with one win and top-five finishes in each race.
“We realized that we were pretty good at the pavement stuff. It was fun, exciting and definitely a learning experience,” stated White.
The following season White tried out a Modified and was quick out of the box, but decided to go a different direction.
“We ran track record times the first time out in the Modified, but we decided to go with Mike Doss and the Jeremy Doss Motorsports Team in the Airport Auto Brokers Late Model Series (AABLM, now known as the Pacific Challenge Series).”
White would serve as a teammate to Jeremy Doss in both the Super Late Model and the Legend car.
That season, in 2012, White was the AABLM Rookie of the Year winning a race and finishing fourth in overall points behind his teammate, who would take home the championship. He finished outside the top five only once during that point season. He also participated in two Rocky Mountain Challenge Series events winning at Meridian Speedway (ID) and finishing sixth in the other event.
2013 rolled around and White set his sights on an ambitious racing schedule which included a run for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series (SRL) Rookie of the Year title and a partial schedule in the United Auto Racing Association (UARA). The SRL schedule got off to a rough start when the brakes failed in the very first practice session at Madera Speedway (CA), nearly destroying the car. The JDM Team got the car back together by race number three, but his chances for the rookie title were gone. He would end up with three top-five finishes and an 11th-place finish in the final standings as he improved throughout the season.
On the UARA side, White teamed with Brodie Kostecki in the Late Model Stock touring series. The cross country distance expenses and the lack of practice time, however, led to results that were far from what they hoped for, as White participated in only four events. He did enjoy himself, nevertheless.
“It was a lot of fun running against guys like Ben Rhodes, Brandon Jones and Erik Jones. They were really great drivers. You could run side by side for 150 laps with them, but it definitely wears you out,” White recalled.
In 2014, White made a big change by leaving the JDM team and teaming up with Dan Joiner at Joiner Motorsports. He came out of the gate strong, winning his first SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series race at Madera Speedway (CA) in the opener. He lead the standings until the midpoint of the season when a DNF at Madera would drop him to third behind Derek Thorn and Jeremy Doss. He entered the season finale at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV) still in third position, but a chain reaction accident involving Doss, Thorn and himself while battling for second, ended his night. He would finish the season fifth in points, but the race would also mark a change in his fortunes headed into the following season.
Prior to the conclusion of the 2014 season, White suffered a dislocated shoulder playing high school football. He finished the final events of the season dealing with a great deal of pain but was able to tough it out to compete for the championship. That injury surfaced several times during the following season and showed exactly how resilient the young driver was on the track.
The 2015 season opened with the first annual Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park (KCRP) in Bakersfield, California. The event was a $25,000-to-win race, promoted by the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series for Super Late Model cars. White qualified a very respectable 13th of the 54 cars on hand in his Pathfinder Perimeter chassis car. His race would end shortly after the half way mark, however, as he could not avoid a multi-car accident ahead of him. The contact with the inside wall resulted in White reinjuring his separated shoulder heading to the opening race of the point season.
White opened the regular season at Madera Speedway and scored a top-10 finish despite the injury. The next event at KCRP he fought off the flu and Christian McGhee to finish fifth. Following two more events, White returned to his home track in Eureka, California, third in points and looking for his first SRL win of the season. Only one month earlier he had won a 100-lap Super Late Model race at the Redwood Acres Raceway facility so he was confident upon his return.
The weekend started off great with White setting fast time after leading practice at the 3/8-mile paved oval. Starting sixth with the invert, he moved forward quickly but on lap nine his season would take a drastic turn.
“Oh man, it’s hard to recall because I got knocked senseless in that wreck, but I remember coming off of turn two I got under him (Tracy Bolin) and thought he came down. I tried letting out of the throttle, but I couldn’t in time,” White recalled. “We made contact and I made the mistake of trying to go high while he was sideways below us. He spun up into us and hit the rear wheels and the throttle stuck heading for three. I remember seeing the sky then hitting the fence, then hitting the wall again (in turn three) at almost a 90-degree angle. I never touched the brakes, because I didn’t have any and I don’t remember anything after that. I do somehow remember shutting the car off, but I don’t know how.”
Brandon also didn’t remember how he got out of the burning car. The car ended up against the exit of the turn four wall with him lying on the ground several feet from the destroyed race car.
“It was rough and it hurt a lot, but we learned a lot from it,” he said.
White would once again reinjure his shoulder in that accident, but would also break his collarbone only two weeks later in a quad accident with his next race at Stockton 99 Speedway (CA) only a week away.
The team went to work and got another used tour car together with the driver toughing out the injuries. Not surprisingly, the results were not good. The team decided to skip the next event to find a car that they could race into the future. With the SRL rules now incorporating the straight rail chassis, Brandon’s father Bill decided to go that route and picked up a Pathfinder car built by Generation 3 Motorsports. It was a car driven only a couple of times by Ross Kenseth in 2015 and had all the latest technology built into it.
“I love the new car. It’s a lot of fun. The way it is built and how it works is just amazing,” said White.
The remainder of the season was used to figure out the new car, the new technology and trying to shake the bad luck the team had experienced during the season.
During the off-season, Junior Joiner came in and helped the team with the new car.
“Junior came in and made a bunch of changes for us and put the car the way he and (crew chief) Dan (Joiner) wanted it and it really came alive after that. I really want to give a huge thank you to Junior for that.”
Unfortunately, the bad luck didn’t end at the completion of the 2015 season.
“We have had terrible luck over the last couple of years and going into the (2016 Winter) Showdown I made a mistake getting into turn one and ended up in the wall,” explained White.
That incident was a big disappointment and ended his weekend before even having the chance to qualify.
The first point event was encouraging as the car was fast during the race, but rain washed out all of Saturday’s practice and forced White to start deep in the field. He was able to make multiple passes and advance to eighth in the 38 green flag laps, but rain cut the event short. Moving to Irwindale Speedway (CA) the bad luck returned with a broken lifter discovered on the primary motor even before arriving at the track. The secondary motor also had problems from the beginning of practice and was never right. It expired three laps from the race finish.
Headed to the Bulwark FR-Westex by Milliken 150 presented by 51 Fifty Energy Drink at Kern County Raceway Park this Saturday, May 21, White is still optimistic about their chances.
”We got our good motor back from DC Racing Engines and our Dirt Cop car is going to be really good. We have some secrets that we are going to try out there and Dan has been working on the car 24-7. I can’t thank Dan, Rick Wilmerton, TJ, Bobby, Shawn Anderson, Sonny Fisher and my dad Bill enough for all that they have done for me and the work they have put in. We have a really great crew.”
Looking to the rest of the season, Brandon has brought his UARA Late Model Stock car back from the East Coast to run on a limited basis.
“We are cutting the front clip off the Late Model Stock and hoping to run a few races here at home (Redwood Acres Raceway) to just have some fun. We will be racing the rest of the SRL Series with the possible exception of one event. But we are really looking forward to the SRL’s return to Eureka on August 6.”
If White can turn his luck around he should be a contender for the win at KCRP. All four of the events he has completed have been top-five efforts, including one Pro Late Model event where he finished second to David Mayhew. Look for the Dirt Cop, NorthCoast Lighting and Electric, Joiner Motorsports Toyota Camry entry to be ultra-fast this coming weekend and if everything goes right, we just might see Brandon in victory circle at the end of the split 150-lap feature.
-By Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Roger Seymour Photography