Brace Jr Newspaper Article

About 13 years ago, Silver Dollar track announcer and friend, Troy Hennig, asked me to write an article for the local Chico newspaper about Richard. What follows was the result of a multitude of hours writing and editing and then more rewriting and editing. Though I love to write, it is by far the most challenging outlet for my creativity as I am never quite satisfied with what I have put down on paper. Content, but never quite satisfied.

Brace Got an Early Start to his Racing Career

August 12 1999 Enterprise-Record/Mercury-Register

“…And, comin’ out of turn two, High Flyin’ Richard Brace takes ‘em on the outside. What move race fans, what a move!” And what a move it was, Brace passed his opponent on the outside for the lead and clinched his fourth main event win of the 1999 season in another three laps.

His ability to make the top grove of any race track work to his advantage is probably one of his most noticeable driving traits. But unbuckled and out of the 2R Modified, who is this exuberant twenty-one time feature event winner that pounds his fists into the air and bows to the fans? Well, Richard race Jr. is above all else, a racecar driver, which is not a big surprise to anyone who knows this twenty-four year old driver.

It all began in the early eighties when his father was building race cars for drivers at the Ernie Prussel Memorial Speedway in Grass Valley. Even then, Brace knew he wanted to race. A decade later, on his sixteenth birthday, he began making progress in attaining his dream when he jumped into his newly christened 2R Mini-Stock.

Brace said his number “was an attempt to be unique.” Ironically, it also holds meaning in the fact that he is named after his father is therefore, the second Richard in his family.

Eight years after he took hi first lap in the mini-stock, Brace is making a name for himself and earning a reputation as a talented young driver. Already, he had earned the 1994 Rookie fo the Year title in the modified class at Placerville Speedway, missing the championship by four points to Daryl Shirk in the last race of the season.

That title would not elude him for long though, when two years later he racked up the championship title at Twin Cities Speedway, as well as the Dirt Modified Mini-Series championship the following year. Though Brace enjoys racing his 2R Modified, to him it is only a stepping stone in what he hopes will be a long and successful racing career. And that’s how he sees it, as a career and not as a hobby. “Someday, I would like to drive professionally, preferable a sprint car or a midget,” he said, “but anything that goes fast will suit me. I love it too much not to do it.”

These days Brace can be found more often that not down at his father’s muffler shop, working into the night on the race car that he engineered and built with his father. With a small budget and a lot of hard work, the crew maintains the 2R Modified during the week with the help of dedicated sponsors such as Brace Mufflers & Welding, Bear River Auto Tech, Boutry Engine Shop, as well as many others.

By Thursday night, the car is ready for a weekend of racing. After an eight-hour workday on Friday, Brace jumps into his street car and travels an hour and a half to the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Needless to say, there isn’t much breathing room for distractions. One memorable evening left Brace stuck in road construction traffic on Highway 70. With the minutes to race time ticking away, Brace swapped his work clothes for his driving suit and slowly inched his way closer to Chico. Luckily, he got there just as his class was rolling onto the track for hot laps. Focusing his attention to the task at hand, Brace went on to win his second feature event of the 1999 season that night, bringing closure to a long and hectic day.

For Richard Brace, racing is a major part of his life. If he was not behind the wheel, then he would be wrenching on someone else’s car and if he was not involved in auto racing, he would be making something else go fast. Luckily, the latter is only a theory and Brace gets the opportunity to race his car every weekend, which is a fact he does not take lightly. His dedication to making his dreams a reality are present in the amount of time and hard work he puts into making his modified run and handle successfully.

Hours are spent performing maintenance, while any spare time that exits is used to work out any bugs in the chasses setup. However, as of late, all of Brace’s hard work and dedication have been paying off. He had won five feature events this season, along with a handful of heat lap wins and top five finishes that have been spread out between four different race tracks. At this rate, nothing on or off the racetrack is hindering this young driver from being a success.

“Sometimes good things happen to good people. Richard is a good driver who might just be a better person is real life,” said track announcer and friend Troy Hennig.

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The Battle

It begins with a gruffly bellowed ‘Play ball’ and a nod to the pitcher. She releases the ball into a deceptively simple arc that floats toward the batter with more movement and spin than seems physically possible. The batter eyes it intensely, patiently waiting for it to descend into reach as she grips her weapon of choice firmly in her hands. She tenses, her body a spring about to explode, and then suddenly the bat swings forward…Crack! Contact is made, sending the ball screaming in another direction. The defense shifts; an instinctual choreography of steps and turns toward their destination. They know what to do. They know where to go without having to be told or without even having to think. It has been drilled into them, practiced for hours, days, years even.

As if by design, the ball is snatched from its trajectory by another weapon of choice…this one composed of leather and stitching. With reflexes honed by instinct, the ball finds the hand and is sent hurtling toward its goal. Everyone watches, even the defense…especially the offense…as both player and ball hurtle toward the same destination. Who will get there first? Who will win? Ball or foot? Slap! A cleat smacks the corner of the base barely a second before the ball smacks leather and the blue spreads his arms like a bird in flight signaling the batter’s success.

Reset. The ball is returned to the pitcher and it begins again. Another chance for a hit. Another chance for an out. Another battle of strategy and skill and most importantly…luck!