PITTSBURGH, Pa. — official team release — photo — Kevin Schwarze photo —
In Chris Bailey Jr.’s almost 20 year racing career, he has always chosen to be an integral part of causes near and dear to his heart, such as The Littlest Heroes, etc.
And with his first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menard’s start at the ultra fast Talladega Superspeedway, driving for Bill Kimmel and the legendary #68 Kimmel Racing Ford team, Bailey is again thinking of others.
Amid discussions about the event, Bailey’s Public Relations Coordinator Kevin Schwarze mentioned his youngest brother Brian would’ve been 46 years old May 16th. Without hesitation, Bailey offered to put Brian’s name above his driver’s door for the race. Schwarze’s only sibling passed last July 19th from psoriasis of the liver with a blood alcohol level almost five fimes that of the legal limit (thankfully he was not driving at the time of his passing).
“For all Kevin has done for myself and Bailey Family Racing, my mom Guyann, dad Chris Sr. and I felt it was the least we could do to help remember his brother and honor his daughter Megan and warn others of the dangers of substance abuse.” stated the Pittsburgh, PA native.
“Our parents divorced when we were toddlers & our mother moved to New Jersey with Brian while I stayed with my dad in Michigan,” explained Schwarze, who also is the Media Coordinator/Official Statistician of the ARCA Truck Series. “We remained close as best we could & finally Brian was able to move back to Michigan when we were young teens. However, though we still were somewhat close, Brian began to make new friends & different choices & began to drink alot.” Brian did marry and they had a daughter, Megan, but after ten years, it ended in divorce because of Brian’s alcoholism & he became estranged from the entire family for a number of years.
During the summer of last year, Brian reached out to Kevin, realizing that his life was in disarray but had still chosen not to seek professional help and was still drinking to excess. “In our discussions, Brian admitted he had a problem but it sounded like pride was standing in his way about seeking help. We spoke about that very thing somewhat, but in the end, people have to want to find a way out. Then one night last July while leaving a local bar, he fell over dead and could not be revived upon reaching the hospital. He was gone,” explained Kevin. “It’s a pretty helpless feeling. You can see it coming and you try to say things, hint, suggest, pray, but, honestly, when it actually happens, it’s an indescribable shock which I still think about every day, often wondering, ‘did I do all I could do?’ It’s a question I’ll ask myself for the rest of my life.”
“But we can’t give up! We must continue the good fight against any and all substance abuse!”
Without a doubt the person most affected by Brian’s passing is his 11-year-old daughter Megan, who still lives with her mother Colleen and is a B student in school and is looking forward to the race and the opportunity to help parents dealing with substance abuse to try to help them see that not only does it affect them but also those they could leave behind.
“Sure my daddy had his faults but near the end he really was trying to get better. He just had such a hard time doing it himself. I miss him every day and hope with this we can help other mommy’s and daddy’s see there are others involved in what they do and they shouldn’t feel ashamed in asking for help.” Her “Uncle Kevin” added with a laugh, “those who know me in racing know I can be pretty bullheaded…but they didn’t see anything like that unless they met Brian!” However, it was that stubbornness that also kept him from seeking professional help. “And that’s the people Megan, Chris and I are trying to reach. To show folks that, yes, it really could become too late for not only yourself and others that love you but no you don’t have to do it alone and yes there are plenty of avenues to explore to beat an addiction!”
Ironically, Bailey ran into his own situation along the lines of substance abuse in his first ARCA race of the season at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway April 11th!
“I went to a local big pharmacy chain for my physical. The lady asked me if I drank or did drugs. I said no I never had one drink of anything ever or smoked anything so she called me a liar and wanted to fail me!” Displaying the quick reflexes of a race car driver with 120 victories and 19 championships, Bailey did the only thing he could think of and pleaded, “ma’am, I swear on my life I’ve never even tried a sip of alcohol. She wasn’t buying it!” Finally, the woman relented and gave him a passing grade!
Bailey, with 25 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menard’s starts (with a best finish of 14th at Kentucky in 2013) went on to place 27th in the Kimmel Racing #80 after mechanical issues sidelined him.
The race will be televised live on Fox Sports 1 Friday May 2nd at 6 P.M. Please check your local cable channels for further information.
Please use the hashtag #NoShameSeekHelp for updates about Bailey’s exploits on social media.
CREDIT: Chris Bailey Jr. Racing