CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Story By Race Chaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker –Dunn Racing/Mull Racing photo —
There are a few events in indoor go-kart racing that stand out from the crowd. One of them is the King of Concrete race held in Greensboro, North Carolina each December. The race, held on the concrete floor of the Greensboro Coliseum using “coke syrup” that mixes with the rubber from the tires to provide grip, presents a real challenge to the racers with a tight, bullring-style track where laps in the six second range are common and accidents happen in a hurry.
Frankfort, Kentucky racer Brandon Dunn knows as well as anyone how difficult the KoC trophy is to win. He’s been as close as second, and he’s had enough bad luck there to last a lifetime. Until last weekend, that is.
In his first race back after a crash in a Kentucky dirt track race left him with a separated shoulder, the 25-year-old hotshoe had a little good luck for a change, and finally got to wear the crown that had eluded him for so many years. The 2015 King of Concrete hardware was finally going home to Frankfort.
There was little time to celebrate. The Rumble in Fort Wayne beckoned.
When I caught up with Brandon for a special Race Chaser Online “Five In Five”, the team’s Ultramax Karts were locked, loaded and ready to, um…Rumble following two days of meticulous preparation after the KoC win. He could finally enjoy an evening of celebrating the holiday before jumping in the truck and heading to a race weekend he and older brother Jason already once swept with a bluegrass broom.
I asked him about his season, the injury, the KoC and the upcoming Christmas weekend Rumble. You could hear the amazement and see the smile as he recounted the biggest win of his career and talked about the grueling race weekend ahead.
RCO: It seems like you raced less this season than usual…
BD: We only ran about three times. Jason and I are largely funding this out of our own pockets now, so we can’t race as much as either of us would like. We would probably have raced a bit more, but I was racing in Tennessee and had a flip that separated my shoulder. I wasn’t supposed to lift or do anything strenuous with it for about six weeks, but a couple of weeks after the wreck I was doing push ups trying to get strength back in it so I could be ready for the King of the Concrete. I wanted to make sure I was ready for that race, so I worked as hard as I could to make sure I was physically ready to go all 50 laps.
RCO: It seems like y our hard work paid off.
BD: Definitely. I was as strong for that race as I was before the wreck. All the crossfit training that I have done really helped me a lot. The KoC is a demanding race. It had eluded me for so long that I didn’t want to not be prepared. The competition is so tough and you have to have luck on your side to win it. I didn’t want the injury to stop me from being my best.
RCO: For once, luck went your way, didn’t it?
BD: You know, it did! It was crazy. We were fifth with four laps to go. We had good speed, but that’s how close the field is and how tough it is to pass. Then we got a break. Three of the top four karts wrecked. When I came around under the yellow and realized I was in second, I looked at (Jason) and he told me there were going to be three laps left. It was then that I realized that somebody had gift-wrapped a chance for us to win the race. I knew we needed to go on the restart. The leader rolled wide off turn two and I turned down and shot right underneath him and took the lead. Shortly after that, he and the third place kart tangled and the race was ours!
RCO: How amazing was the feeling to come off turn four and see the checkered flag?
BD: It was just a flood of emotions. I was so overjoyed and so relieved. I couldn’t believe I’d finally won it. Pure joy. It was my biggest single win ever but Jason and I do this together so everything, good or bad, is about us and not just me. We won a race in Mason City, Iowa that was $2,000 to win but this paid more and we had worked so hard for it for so long. Winning the KoC with my brother is special. He is the best crew chief I could ever ask for. The thing is, we were a bad call away from maybe winning the KoC Champ Kart race, too, so it was just a really great weekend. My parents got us started all those years ago, and now we’re doing it on our own with the help of some amazing people like Chuck Dill and Joe Wright from Ultramax, who’ve been with me for the last 11 years and Excalibur Racing Engines. They give us such great power. Finish Line Cut Tires is the business Jason and I have, and we work really hard with that as well as still working for our Dad at the family business. I still don’t think it’s settled in that we won. Now we’re off to the Rumble.
RCO: You’re going into the Rumble with a lot of confidence, I would imagine.
BD: For sure! You know, the year I swept the four races I ran at the Rumble was the year I finished second at King of Concrete. I remember feeling like we let one get away and we went into the Rumble that year with something to prove, or at least I did. I felt like I had something to prove to myself and maybe to everyone else as well. But when I swept I only ran four races. Jason’s was six. I feel like we will go in there on our best and I would surely love to win all six, but again the competition is really stout so you have to have everything go your way to achieve that. I love racing there. We’re going to be ready to give it all we’ve got for six races and see what happens!
RCO: Good luck up there and be safe, Brandon.
BD: Thank you very much! I really appreciate the interview. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!