DOTY: Racing Family and Friends

Brad Doty

The second half of the year was very busy for a lot of teams, especially those who make their living from racing. We all know about the months of no racing when COVID hit, but man did things get crazy when people started to figure how and where they could race.

There were many miles put on race rigs, and in some cases drivers’ motorhomes, chasing a schedule that would sometimes change at the last minute due to what the local health departments and governments decided.

Teams might’ve been headed in one direction but were then forced to turn around and head to a different location due to a race cancellation, and scramble to rebook hotels, etc.

Looking back over the season, it’s pretty amazing how so many people were able to work together and salvage as many races as they did.

In my last column I talked about how drivers and crew members who normally go to Australia or New Zealand in our off-season aren’t allowed to go this year.

Well there are still some races being run here in the United States that are getting really high car counts because, first, the season was so much shorter than normal that people still want to race, and second, there are those drivers still here at home who normally would be down under.

The race teams who travelled around the country got to see many of their friends and fans, albeit not in the parts of the country where little to no racing happened.

I mentioned teams getting to see friends and fans, and each other, even if the season was about half as long as normal, because for many of us, we didn’t get to a lot of races and get to see and talk to our “racing family” like we normally do.

Yes, the off-season is short for the drivers and teams, especially for those who are still racing and plan to hit the several events yet to come before the 2021 racing season technically begins down south next month.

As for myself, I only got to a few races this year, with the last one being in September, and I most likely won’t be going to any live races until around April or May. So, the off-season is quite different and a lot longer for some of us.

Unfortunately, the racing community lost several people in 2020. The passing of Barry Skelly, owner of Collectors Toys and a staple at Pennsylvania race tracks for many years, who always went out of his way to help me with T-shirt and book sales every time I went to Central Pennsylvania.

The more recent deaths of Hall of Fame crew chiefs Kenny Woodruff and Scott Gerkin have hit me pretty hard.

I also have a dear friend who lives several states away who is having health issues. I usually get to see him when I go to the Knoxville Nationals but, of course, with no Nationals in 2020 I didn’t get to see him this year!

With loss of friends and the self-isolation for several months, it has me realizing how much I’ve taken for granted that I will get to see my racing family and friends year after year.

With no racing banquets and no PRI (Performance Racing Industry) Trade Show this winter, it makes it even longer for people like me to go without seeing and catching up with everyone.

I know when things get back to normal I will be making a concerted effort to get to even more races than I did before COVID hit.

And, after this year, where people have been limited on so many fronts, I don’t think I will be the only person who will be trying to get to a lot more races next year.

2021 could possibly be one of the biggest years in short track racing. Of course, a lot depends on what happens with the virus, but if things are remotely back to normal I think we could see record crowds and high car counts, especially at the marquee events.

With the reprint of my book, Still Wide Open, I might even be able to drag some books along to sell, which will give me an even greater excuse to make more road trips to various race tracks.

Even then, I don’t know how many tracks I will be able to get to, so if you want to order a book directly, you can do so by going to

I hope to see many of you at the track next year; it’s already been way too long since my last race.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone, and here’s a toast to a better and more normal 2021.


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