June 9 through 12 will see the return to Professional drag racing of one of the true legends and pioneers of the sport – Victor Bray.
6 times Australian Top Doorslammer Champion, multiple Winternationals Champion, multiple Australian Nationals Champion, foundation member of Wild Bunch and then Top Doorslammer, and innovator in every facet of the sport. These mere words do not seem enough to paint the picture of the drag racing legend that is Victor Bray.
Willowbank Raceway Queensland will come to life on June 9th with the running of the largest drag race outside of North America, The Winternationals. This will be Victor’s first race in the new APDR 400 Thunder Pro Series, and his first time back in competitive racing since November 2014 at the Sydney Dragway East Coast Nationals.
Victor gave us a little of his time this week, amidst preparing his Murray Anderson built iconic 57 Chev for his much awaited return.
We asked Victor “You’ve had a bit of a spell from racing. What has inspired you to come back?” His response “We have been looking to come back for the past couple of events. We just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. The Winternationals is Australia’s iconic drag racing event, so we are looking forward to getting back out there.”
Continuing with a chuckle he says “Last year I watched Benny go out there and race the Winters, and he went to the Final actually. I remember the good times when we used to run Bray v’s Bray finals and I’m just looking forward to getting back out there and racing with the guys.” Victor jokes “I hope I remember how to do it…… I hope I remember where the steering wheel is anyway!”
Victor raced consistently for 30plus years before taking a break and explains “I wouldn’t say I got stale. I would say I just got to the stage where there were a lot of things I had to catch up on. The sport of drag racing takes a lot out of you, both mentally and financially. I had a lot of stuff going on at home.”
Victor knows that everyone has a private life outside of drag racing and the Brays are no different. With his mum needing their support and the family farm being encroached upon by developers, he explains “I just needed some time to concentrate on some other areas. When we had the year off, brought on by Ben’s accident, we started getting some stuff outside the sport done.”
With a different vantage point now, and not so engrossed in the “racing every second weekend” side of the sport Vic says “I realised that there were some areas inside the sport we could have probably done better. We have some stuff fixed up in other areas now and we are fresh and ready to get out there and go hard at it again.”
With both Bray cars running at this years 400 Thunder Willowbank Winternationals Victor was reminded of the first time he and Ben raced in Doorslammer together, at the Nationals of all places. “I told Benny this is a big deal, everybody puts a lot of effort into this race, so if you don’t qualify and you don’t do any good, don’t worry about it or let it knock you around.” Ben qualified 8th, Victor didn’t qualify for the first time in his long career and Ben went on to win the Nationals on debut. “I ended up having to take on some of my own advice” Victor laughs. He goes on to talk about the many Bray v’s Bray finals that came after that faithful event. “It’s been a while since we have had a Bray v’s Bray final but we would love one (at the Winter’s) this year.”
Victor will come back to the scene not only mentally refreshed but physically ready to win. Victor explains “I’ve always been a big fella and I haven’t gotten any smaller over the years that’s for sure. I have always felt very comfortable in the car, but the last few events in 2014 things were getting a bit tight in the car and I wasn’t feeling as comfortable as I always used to.”
Being a realist, Victor understands the inherent danger our sport carries with the speeds and acceleration involved. He wanted to make sure he was on the best possible path to race the car. Victor jokes with friends that the car he has now, he’s had since the early 2000’s. “It seemed that at every weekend they raced up until the break in 2014 the steering wheel was slowly sagging. I knew this because it would rub on my guts more than it used to!”
Victor knew it was time to get his health right, not only for his driving but for himself and his growing family. He has dropped around 60kgs and has not been at this racing weight since he was in his early 20’s. He is “keen as hell” to get back in the car and see how it feels and get out there and have some fun.
Ben has been running Victor’s engine in his new Pro Slammer Corvette and Victor is working on prising it back from him. When Victor talked about getting his engine back from Ben he states hopefully “If he lends it back to me!”
Victor mused that new Noonan Super 600 series parts are part of his plan to build Ben an “upmarket” style engine to fill the hole in Ben’s Corvette when he reclaims his engine to power his trusty 57 Chev at the Winters.
With 7 cars in the Bray pits this year, there’s no doubt there will be many awesome stories to come out of the weekend. Victor would love to reconnect with all of his fans again, so make sure you drop in, say “g’day”, grab a selfie with Victor and Ben, and cheer on Team Bray.
The 400 Thunder Social Team will be bringing you loads of updates before and during the event, including a surprise from Team Bray Racing, so be sure you connect with us via facebook asap.
See you at the Winters!
Willowbank Raceway Qld
400 Thunder Pro Series & Sportsman Series Racing
June 9 to 12, 2016