Racing is deeply embedded in the Carolina culture, and one racer at Friendship Motor Speedway is making a name for himself before he has his learner’s permit.
Brad Mickalowski of Mocksville is only 14 years old, but he’s been around four wheels and a motor all his life.
“I started driving the four wheeler at 9-years old and then my mom’s trailer across the yard,” Mickalowski said. “When I first started driving my mom’s truck I could barely reach the pedals. It was definitely fun, and I was like, ‘I could see myself doing this.’”
In many ways, it seemed like he was destined to drive anything with four wheels and a motor. Racing has been in the Mickalowski family for generations.
“My mom said when I was born, and my dad knew I was going to be a boy, that he knew I was going to race because my dad raced Micro Sprints, and his dad helped him race,” Mickalowski said.
“When we found out we were having a boy, Ted was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got my race car driver now,’” Lisa Mickalowski, Brad’s mother said. “Brad was 2 at the time when Ted would fix up lawn mowers. Brad would go and put the keys in the lawn mower and crank them up, so we knew he had that mindset right away that he wanted to drive.”
Since those days, Mickalowski has developed into a great racer, winning two heat races last season as the youngest racer in his class. Now, he’s racing in the XS4 series, and still getting acclimated to the new car. Not only that, his father Ted Mickalowski also has a learning curve on his hands as a crew chief, as it’s been years since he raced week in and week out on dirt.
“We’re both learning. It’s a whole different ballpark being a crew chief instead of a driver,” Ted Mickalowski, Brad’s father and crew chief said. “Back in my days racing, I’d be telling my crew chief what I’d like to be done [to the car], and now he’s telling me what he’d like to be done and at times we think differently.”
Outside of the car, Brad Mickalowski is still a kid who likes to chuck dirtballs at the concrete barrier at the track and wrestle with some of the younger kids in between races. Yet, every time he’s climbed into the car, he wants to make good on the goal he put out at the start of the season. Last year, Mickalowski won two heat races in a row but could not find his way to victory lane in a feature event.
“My dream was to ride a race car and that’s come true, next one is to win a [feature] race,” Mickalowski said. “The other goal is to beat Austin Caudle. He lives down the street from me. He’s always been a great driver, and I’ve always been around him since I started racing. I’d like to pull up next to him one day and be like ‘Hey, I’m here!’”
Each week he’s getting closer to that goal, getting ready for freshman year in high school, and perfecting the dirtball in between heats.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached at 336-458-2052 or via Twitter @rsdecosta.