Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Curt Brainard

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Curt Brainard (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Curt Brainard – I cannot image racing at anywhere other than Stafford!

The racing roots for Curt Brainard of Canton began with his father and a passion for the sport. Brainard started his involvement in the Modifieds as a crew member on Ray Miller’s #01 NASCAR Modified team. From there he jumped behind the driver’s seat in his own SK Modified at Stafford Speedway. Brainard has scored five SK Modified wins over the years and now is content with running in the top-10 to top-15 position as long as he is on the track. Brainard may not be in the limelight every week at Stafford Speedway but he races when he can and that is what counts to him and his team.

What got you interested in racing?

“My father started bringing me to races when I was maybe three years old. He brought me to Riverside [Park Speedway] and Plainville Stadium. So my whole life I have known racing. “ 

What was the first car that you raced?

“The first car that I raced was an SK Modified. That was it other than a casual, unsanctioned Go-Kart. The first real racing that I did was at Stafford in an SK Modified in 1990.”

What type of racing to you like the best?

“NASCAR Cup racing I follow the most. I like how competitive it is. I like the not extreme technology like Formula 1. It is more competitive than Indy Car. I can relate to it because that is what I grew up with.”

Is racing your hobby or your life?

“I would say that it is my passion and yes it kind of has been my life. I really enjoy working on my car so I spend hours and hours working on it in the garage. And I know everybody else does too. I really enjoy it. We build a lot of our own stuff which obviously takes more time”. 

Racing an SK Modified for the win

“I have won five times at Stafford in the SK [Modified]. My first win was in 1996 (May 15, 1996). My last win was in early 2000’s (May 20, 2000). I quit racing after 2014 season and took a hiatus. Even now I am not racing full-time. “

Do you work on your own car?

“I own and work on my own car. I used to help the No. 01 crew that owned the Ray Miller car in the 70’s. And then I dropped out of racing for a while doing other things. Then I came back to racing and I wanted to work on a car. When I could not find a car to work on. I said: ‘You know what I can afford to have a car at this time and maybe if I have a car I will try driving it.’ And that is how it all started. I really enjoy the technology and working on it. ” 

What is your most memorable racing experience?

“Obviously you have to put your first win up there. And that is probably my No. 1 memory. There are so many memories. The best memory of all is when you do well and win and your crew is excited. When you come in there is this huge comradery. And you do not have to win to get that. When you run good everybody smiles. That is what excites me. The other side of that is not fun. The memories are with the team and that is what it is about.”

What do you find unique at Stafford Speedway?

“Stafford is probably one of the No. 1 tracks in the United States as far as a short track goes. The facility is fantastic and they continue to improve it. The racing is super competitive with high car counts. I have not travelled around the country to other short tracks but I know that at some tracks they have 12 cars in their major divisions that is a big deal. Most night in the SK division we have 28 to 30 Modifieds in difficult economic times. I cannot image racing at anywhere other than Stafford. It is a fantastic facility.”

What challenges do drivers have at Stafford Speedway?

“The biggest challenge that they have is that there are so many equal cars racing. There are multiple engines from the same builder. There are multiple chassis from the same supplier. So the biggest challenge is racing against all those cars that have the same equipment that you have. I do not fall into that category. I build my own engines and I have a modified Race Works car. But in general, the SK drivers have to out drive the next driver. They are not going to beat them with their technology because it is the same.”

What are your 2022 Goals?

“I am going to be 68 years old next week and I have an old car with an old engine. I do not think that it is a reasonable goal to think about winning. But it is a reasonable goal to try to run in the top-15 or the top-10. And that is what it is about. I want to have fun. I do not want my crew to have any pressure. I have been preparing the car 100% by myself because I do not want to take up anybody’s week working on the car. So I want to have fun and I want my crew to have fun. ”

If you had to do it all over again would you?

“I absolutely would. I would do a lot of things different and therefore I would probably have a lot more wins in my pocket  I have enjoyed the time I have spent with my team working on my car and the comradery of all that. It takes an awful lot away from the rest of your life and you have to be 100% dedicated to racing. There cannot be any other sports. There cannot be anything else going on if you want to do well.”

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