By Brandon Rohde
Let me preface this article by making one thing clear - I very rarely write an article myself here on LiveRC. In fact, I have written maybe 3 since LiveRC started doing news back in 2010. But this past weekend, something special happened at the Reedy Race, and its something that I want to share.
Before I get into much more, let me first say that I've had the priviledge of becoming friends with a lot of racers, from novice to elite. Over the last 15 years, I've traveled to hundreds of events and I've seen many of those racers win multiple times. Over time though, races blend together and just become another tick mark on the calendar. Sure, there are moments that stick out. But not like this years Reedy Race. At this race, something really cool happened. I got to see one of my close friends - a kid who I got to watch evolve from a quite little 8 year old into a crazy fast 22 year old - earn the first truly defining win of his career. This isn't just any big race win. Its the freakin' Reedy Race. Its the race that gathers the deepest talent pool out of any race in the world - more so than the world championships in my opinion. While the Worlds gathers all the best pros in the top 3 or 4 mains, it doesn't have the depth like the open class at Reedy does. I am pretty sure that if I had raced both the Worlds and the Reedy Race open class, that I would have finished higher at the worlds. In fact, the open class is so fast, that the fastest lap of the weekend was turned by an open class driver, NOT an invite driver. In 2014, a kid by the name of Spencer Rivkin won the open class, and backed up that win by becoming World Champ in 2015. Anyways, you get my point - the open class is stacked. And my friend won it. He WON IT!
Brad once dated an NFL cheerleader. Sheariously, no joke.
As I reflect back on the week of the Reedy Race, I have to laugh a little bit because while we were packing up to go home, Scotty Ernst told Brad that I was acting like a "dad" all week while watching him race. You know... yelling at nobody if he got taken out, nervously pacing around during his runs, throwing my head back if he crashed, clapping and cheering when he did good, etc. You know...dad stuff. I didn't think much of it at the time, but its the most nervous I have been while watching anyone race - I REALLY wanted to see him win, and I knew he could.
Here's the thing though - this wasn't just a special moment to see him win because he's my friend. It was special because I get to see first hand the hard work and dedication that he puts into racing each and every week while back home. Brad is talented for sure, but he's not one of the prodigy kids that picks up a radio and is instantly fast. He is fast because he works insanely hard at it. I know this because I've been watching him grow up racing since he was 8. He never had that moment where it just "clicked" and he was winning races. He has gotten slowly and consistently faster by practicing, testing setups, and learning what makes his car work for him.
In high school, Brad built a small practice track in his backyard.
At the age of 22, Brad is currently working his way through college. Between studying, working summer jobs to pay for college, and painting an insanely large amount of bodies to fund his racing, Brad still finds time to practice and race every week. And he doesn't just race off-road; he is also quite the wheel in touring car and has made the modified A-Main at huge events such as the Cleveland Indoor Championships.
If this wasn't enough to keep someone busy, let me throw this into the mix. A few weeks ago, we were getting ready to go to the CRCRC race in Ohio. Brad asked me if I was racing, and I said probably not because my stuff wasn't ready, and I still had to build my B64 that had been sitting in a box for months. He couldn't accept this for an answer, so he drove an hour to my house, grabbed my cars and parts, and then came back 2 days later and handed me my cars, completely ready to go for the race. Its been months since I had raced, and I really forgot how much I missed it until I got to club race that night and then again at CRCRC. Sure, I was rusty and I sucked. But it was fun, and I owe that to Brad. Without him finding time to not only prep his stuff, but to prep mine too, there is no way I would have gotten to enjoy racing that weekend.
Back in 2007, when I could still beat this little 12 year old punk (Brad in the orange, me next to him).
I could go on for hours with different stories like this, but I doubt anyone would want to read 15 pages of me blabbering on. But if you take anything away from this article, just know this. Brad is the type of racer that this hobby could use more of. He is that rare mix of racing talent and driver ettiquette. He's the one who puts in more time away from the track than at it. He's the first to say sorry, and the last one to yell. He's the one who takes time away from wrenching on his own stuff after TQ'ing the Reedy Race to thrash on someone else's car to make it better (talkin' 'bout you Bornhorst ;-)). He's the one who tries to pay you for a part that he borrowed, even if he knows you got it for free. To Ron and Diane, you two have a lot to be proud of in your son. And to Brad - congrats buddy. You didn't just win the race, you truly earned it.
To see more fun photos of Brad throughout the years, bang that mouse on the images below.