TOLEDO, Ohio (Nov. 21, 2016) - Perhaps one of the greatest gifts a parent can receive is to see their children experience success. Kevin Briscoe had that opportunity in 2016 when his son Chase Briscoe, in his rookie season, earned the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards national championship. Safe to say the Briscoe family will have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
"We're just blessed," said Kevin Briscoe. "Just knowing the opportunity he got doesn't come in today's world. We got that opportunity, and knowing we see more opportunity going forward...this has been an amazing experience."
Briscoe also experienced his share of success in open-wheel sprint cars, winning between 150 and 200 feature events across the Midwest over a 20-year career. In addition to track championships at Bloomington Speedway (5) and Haubstadt, Briscoe scored victories at the very top - in USAC, All-Star Sprints and CRA (California Racing Association) competition.
"Raced the first half of my career in winged sprint cars, then went to non-wing racing in the mid-90s. We were just as successful when we took the wing off...won my second and third time out with the wing off...won a big $5,000-to-win CRA show at Lawrenceburg."
Briscoe also finished seventh in his first King's Royal at Eldora Speedway. He eventually stepped aside to make way for his son, who became the youngest 410 cubic inch sprint car winner in history, winning at Bloomington Speedway when he was just 13. The apple did not fall far from the tree.
"I always knew he (Chase) had the talent...he just never had the opportunity to get in top-notch equipment. Once he got in top-notch equipment, I already knew he could do it...I watched him race coming up, and do amazing things in lesser equipment.
"The sad thing about racing...there are so many talented kids out there who never get the chance to show it. We got that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Chase this year, and we couldn't be more grateful. It's nice to see it happen. There are just so many talented kids that don't have the financial backing.
Chase...our entire family is blessed beyond measure."
Briscoe recalled long ago days when drivers would show up with their helmet bags, and those with enough talent could find a ride without a big bag of money by their side.
"That's the way it used to be...they were looking for talent rather than money. But racing isn't like a stick and ball sport where if you're really, really good and work hard for it, they'll eventually take you. Money became the predominant factor (in racing)."
However, Briscoe, based on his experience this year, can see a shift on the horizon.
"Based on what happened with my son this year, I see racing starting to go back to the way it was...when owners are again looking for talent rather than money. At least I hope it goes back to talent over money. It's definitely what happened for my son. The old guard won't be there forever. They're going to need talented kids to fill those shoes."
Briscoe says that seeing is son win was more gratifying than his own victories.
"Oh it's way better...way more gratifying to see Chase succeed. More nerve-wracking too. That first win at Winchester was huge for me and my family. Growing up watching races there...all the legends that raced there. That meant a lot to my family. That was a very touching day."
Given the experience the Briscoe family had this year, you can bet they'll all be extra grateful at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
"We're going to really enjoy the holidays spending time with my family and my wife's family. Both Chase's birthday and my daughter's birthday are in December so it's a busy time for us."
Briscoe also found out he's got another family out there too.
"The whole Cunningham organization took us in like we were their family. We just want them to know how thankful we are...to Briggs (Cunningham), Kerry (Scherer), Paul (Andrews), Chad (Bryant)...everyone over there. The whole organization is such a class act. They took us in as family. They treated us like they knew us for years. I would say the same for ARCA. We were treated with such a great deal of respect...that meant a lot to our family. We're just so appreciative for the opportunities they provided for Chase. We know how blessed we are."
Don Radebaugh email@example.com