Hotshoes and Hotrods, Britt Making Pro Trucks Historyadmin
RACING AGAIN FRIDAY: With Hotshoes and Hotrods, Britt Making Pro Trucks History
By Chuck Corder
There’s a term in sports that wields quite the double-edged sword: Dynasty.
Associated with greatness, to accept is both a blessing and a curse. It’s what all teams aspire for – to be mentioned among the greats, the GOATs – but once there, the comparisons of previous dynasties start rolling in.
It’s a silly exercise, ignoring the fact that greatness is happening right in front of you because of this no-win debate.
Some might call the run of success Curt Britt Motorsports has enjoyed in recent years at Five Flags Speedway a dynasty.
But, to appreciate all the checkereds Britt and his stable of Pro Trucks drivers have amassed at the famed half-mile asphalt oval is to witness Britt’s strive for excellence and the attention to detail he pays each short-track masterpiece that rolls out of his shop.
“It has been a labor of love and a lotta hard work,” the 43-year-old Britt said. “A lotta years we were just plucking away at it. How I got started was a couple mentors of mine drove trucks, and I’d help them a little bit. I wanted to understand the truck before I started racing.”
The McDonough, Ga., native is a wealth of information these days. Britt’s trucks have won the last three Pro Trucks Snowball Derby championships, the track title last year and in 2016, and opened 2020 with a win after 14-year-old Grant Thompson drove to Victory Lane in Pensacola last Friday.
“I was just excited because I got to be in a Curt Britt truck,” Thompson said. “Not a lotta people get to do that. I just feel like he’s got the best equipment. He never gives up with what he does and works really hard on what he’s got to do for all of us.”
Britt hopes to guide Thompson or one of his other three drivers to another win Friday when Five Flags hosts another four-feature show Friday night. Britt’s trucks will compete in the WCIparts.com Pro Trucks division and share the stage with three other hot local divisions – the Faith Chapel Outlaws, The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen, and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks.
Gates open at 5 p.m. and admission is $12 for adults, students, seniors, and military while free for children ages 11-and-under. Track officials will still be wearing masks and gloves, and encouraging all fans, drivers, teams to respect the latest physical distancing guidelines.
Britt built a respectable 16-year racing career, winning four track championships in his native Georgia. Two strokes, a month a part, ended his racing days more than a decade ago, but he did not suffer.
“By the grace of God, I didn’t have any ailments,” Britt said. “I was very fortunate.”
Britt has quickly built a reputation as an in-race maestro to his trucks.
“When we come to track, we’re not perfect,” said Hicks, who won six times for Britt in eight feature races last season en route to the track championships. “But Curt’s really smart. I was driving a backup for him once, and it was super free in practice. I told him, and he made a quick adjustment before qualifying and it put us on the pole.
“As long as the driver gives Curt good input, he always seems to know what to do.”
With Thompson winning, fellow teen and teammate Cameron Weinberg coming home in third, Hunter Johnson and Annabelle Mohwish finishing a strong fifth and 11th, respectively, Britt Motorsports is stacking the deck on their chances of winning.
Perhaps no driver understands Britt’s desire to win more than D.J. VanderLey. The Mobile native, who is in his third season with Stewart-Haas Racing, was Britt’s first trucks pupil in 2003.
“It was the first full-sized car I had been in,” said VanderLey, who had raced Legnds until that point. “Part of the success (Britt) had was he was a successful driver in these very trucks back in his day. It helps tremendously when you’ve got a driver-coach that knows a lot. Sometimes, he knows what the truck needs better than the guy in the seat does because he’s been around it so long.”
VanderLey, famed for his door-to-door battle with Chase Elliott at the 2011 Snowball Derby in which Elliott won, said Britt always put you in good equipment.
“Once you get behind the wheel, I think up to 15 people have won in his trucks,” VanderLey said. “The common denominator is Curt and his program.”
Despite that nail-biting finish to Elliott nine years ago, VanderLey returned to the Derby in 2017 and tasted sweet redemption when he won the Pro Trucks Snowball Derby in a Britt truck and started a string of three straight for Britt.
It was a Hollywood moment for a strong survivor like Britt, whose focus remains on churning out winners.
“He’s just a really good guy,” said Kody Brusso, an Outlaws regular who drove for Britt last season. “The team dynamic over there right now is amazing. From Cameron and Grant and even with Josh and I driving trucks, the communication going on right now it’s insane. It’s a huge family. Four trucks, my car, and no one misses a lick. Curt pitches in on our stuff. He’s great at what he does. Everything meshes. His program is great. If you’re willing to learn, willing to build your confidence, he’s there.”
On the doorstep of a dynasty?