WEST, Texas — Another perfect example of a talented young driver honing his skills in the right class made the headlines recently. He's another one of those 'teenage sensations' who have taken our sport by storm the last few years. They're making a name for themselves, and it sure bodes well for our future.
For 15-year-old rising star Brady Gerik, the Junior Limited division has put him on the map. He notched his first feature win at Heart O' Texas Speedway on May 12, has three top-five finishes this year and sits third in overall points. He's making great strides, and gaining confidence every time out.
“I should have gotten my first win early in the season,” Gerik said. “But I drove it down into the corner way too hot while going for the lead, and spun out. I had to come from the back, and only got up as far as seventh. Then we went to Kennedale, and the setup was way too loose.
“Then we went back to Heart O' Texas, and I've never really figured out a dry-slick track. Thankfully, James Schoenrock and Erica Bates have helped me a lot with both dry and wet-track chassis setups. I got fifth two nights in a row, and was just expecting to go get another top-five on May 12.”
Sometimes, you prepare as best as possible and things go your way. Eventually, it all comes together.
“I thought maybe we could land on the podium if it was a little tacky, I didn't know. But they put me out front, and I told myself to just stay calm, consistent, and maybe it will work out. Luckily, it did.”
You may think with the talent he displays, Gerik has already been racing for years. You'll be surprised.
“I just started racing when I was 12, so I'm still fairly new to the sport,” he explained. “Most of the kids I compete against were in Karts when they were six or seven, but not me. I hung around with a friend who raced, and eventually thought it would be fun to try.
“My Dad surprised me with a car in the shop. So I jumped in three years ago, and got instantly hooked. Once I won my first Heat race last year, it was over. I'm in it to stay now.”
Like his fellow rising stars PJ Egbert and Kolby Whitworth, Gerik is getting the most out of this class.
“I really feel like this is a perfect place to learn how to become a better racer,” he explained. “The cars are close enough to a Sport Mod so you're forced to pay attention. When I first started out, there was maybe three cars to worry about. Now, they've all gotten faster, and the competition is much higher.
“It feels great to compete against so many others with similar goals as mine. We're all out there learning the ropes, trying to win races and get more seat time. After we spend some time here in Junior Limited, we'll be much better prepared for the move up to a Sport Mod. This is the ideal training ground.”
When Gerik suits up, grabs his helmet and gets ready to race, he climbs into a very fine machine.
“My car is a really nice Express chassis that first belonged to Casey Brunson,” Gerik explained. “He sold it to Trevor Cogburn, then it went to Wyatt Sexton, so I'm the fourth driver it's had overall. It's a very nice piece, and Mr. James Schoenrock has worked hard to get it dialed in for me this year.
“As for horsepower, we have a motor from Anderson Racing Engines under the hood. He's a local guy from right down the road in Leroy, Texas. He builds motors for Shannon Dulock, Robert Black, Kail Black and many others. He builds a lot of Junior Limited and Sport Mod motors, and does great work.”
Along with his obvious natural driving talent and capable race car, Gerik has a boatload of supporters.
“I am blessed to have a very supportive family and several sponsors who make this possible for me,” he said. “I want to thank Lloyd's Trailer Sales, WestLand Realty, VFW of West, Post 4819; The Tipsy Lion Bar & Grill; Haddix Heating & Air; Gassaway's, of Gholson, TX; and Hollingsworth Fireworks.
“I also need to thank John's Quick Lube, The Filling Station of West, Graves Excavation, Anderson Racing Engines, 4-Wide Trailer Sales by Chase Jupe; Jim Turner Chevrolet, Reed Motorsports, and Bold Springs Tire & Lube. I'll also offer a special thanks to my Dad, Mom, Shane Machac; Brad Wines, Jeff and Wyatt Sexton, my grandparents, Super Dave, my friend James Schoenrock and Erica Bates. I couldn't do this without their support.”
With the unofficial start of summer (Memorial Day Weekend) upon us, Gerik knows what he wants to accomplish out on the racetrack. Action on the ovals will be heating up, so it's time to stay cool.
“My biggest goal for this year was to get my first win, and I got that done,” he said. “I've got two more years I can do this, so we're going after more wins. I don't really focus on the points, but since we're in third and only nine points behind right now who knows what can happen.
“Either way, my confidence is up, I'm learning every time out and having a blast doing it. Once you get a few things figured out in this class, it starts to get interesting. And when you win, you want to go out and do it again. I think we're going to have a fun summer going after another checkered flag.”
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo by Stacy Kolar/Southern Sass Photography