Guest Instructor - Brian Folk
Like each of our 2009 “Guest” Instructors, Brian Folk is a second generation drag racer, having grown up helping and watching his father Ron race throughout the Midwest and across the country. In fact, Brian comes from quite a racing pedigree: not only is his father Ron generally respected as one of the fathers of big dollar bracket racing, his uncles Randy and Steve also enjoyed a great deal of success throughout the ‘80’s and ‘90’s (Randy is still a strong competitor today).
In 1984, when Brian was just 12 years old, his father Ron, who had been a successful racer for years while working full-time as a union welder, scored the largest and most pivotal victory of his racing career; a $20,000 victory at Byron Dragway’s Olympics of Drag Racing. Even today, some 25 years later, a $20,000 score is a huge win. But in 1984, this was the only race of it’s kind, and $20,000 was life changing money. A change in lifestyle is exactly what happened. Shortly after his triumph, Ron walked away from his daily job to start Folk Race Cars, a business that currently supports the entire Folk family, employing Ron and his wife Vicky, along with Brian and his younger brother Nick.
Ron’s racing flourished at the time as well, as he went on to win three consecutive track championships at Byron from 1984 to 1986, and began to enjoy success traveling to events throughout the region and eventually throughout the country. It was then that young Brian knew he was destined to make a living within and around the sport of drag racing.
“The guys that race now and weren’t around back then wouldn’t understand,” explained Brian. “We go out now, and everyone wants to win. But everyone is pretty good, and everyone has good stuff. Back then, Dad dominated. I don’t use that word like we do today when we talk about someone ‘dominating‘ sportsman racing. We expected to win every time we went to the track. And with Steve and Randy racing at the same time, one of the Folk’s would take the money more often than not.” --Brian Folk
Brian started his racing career at a young age, and cut his teeth welding, fabricating, and essentially doing whatever needed to be done at the family business. He quickly made a name for himself in big dollar bracket racing, driving to countless victories throughout the country as he and his father (and eventually younger brother Nick) chased the bracket tour for years. In 1996, he made his first major blip on the national radar, winning the Moroso 5-Day points championship, and capping a stellar season.
“We had some really good years in the early ‘90’s. At that time, we had a ton of big dollar races, and most of them weren’t too far from home. There wasn’t any need to go do the class racing thing, we could make good money racing regionally for the most part. And we enjoyed great success. But outside of the people that were doing it, no one really knew about it. The bracket races just didn’t get the exposure like they do today.” --Brian Folk
So in the late ‘90’s, the Folks turned their focus more toward class racing, and Brian became a fixture in the late rounds of Super Comp and Super Gas. In 1999, Folk proved his talent and versatility by winning two of the biggest events of the season: He claimed a $50,000 payday at the Super Mega Bucks event in St. Louis, then followed it up just months later with a Super Gas crown at that season’s U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. He followed with three consecutive finishes in the top ten of the NHRA Super Comp standings (2000-2002), and compiled numerous NHRA event titles.
He claimed back-to-back IHRA Division titles in Super Rod in 2002 and 2003, before scoring his second Moroso 5-Day points championship in 2004. By earning that crown, he became one of just three drivers to have won the points title on more than one occasion, joining Scotty Richardson and Kenny Underwood (since, fellow TIBR instructor Troy Williams, Jr. has also accomplished the noteworthy feat). In 2005, Folk added another pair of IHRA Division 5 Championships, in Super Rod and Top Dragster, and another pair of top ten finishes, as he placed third in Super Rod and fourth in Top Dragster.
The 2006 campaign brought Folk another Division 5 title, this time in Top Dragster, and another pair of IHRA top ten finishes, along with a runner-up finish in a $30,000 event held at the Million Dollar Race. Essentially, coming into 2007, there was nothing that Folk hadn’t accomplished behind the wheel of a sportsman racing machine.
Well, there was that one little thing… Coming from nowhere late in the 2007 season, Brian Folk debuted the families new Camaro bodied Super Rod roadster and promptly took it on a 22 round winning streak in IHRA competition to knock off Steve Furr, who was all but crowned the champion early in the season, to take his first World Championship.
In the two seasons since, Folk has added three more division crowns, along with a handful of national and divisional victories, all while continuing to win races that cement his reputation as one of the top bracket racers in the country. All told, Brian has racked up 10 division championships in addition to his 2007 World Championship and his two Moroso 5-Day crowns. He has won over twenty national events within NHRA and IHRA, and has more than two dozen divisional event victories. He has staged up for the final round of $30,000-to-win and higher bracket races on five occasions.
Brian Folk races alongside his father Ron and brother Nick with a seven car team that boasts three world championship drivers, and is a formidable competitor at NHRA, IHRA, and big dollar events throughout the country.
Away from the race track, Brian enjoys the quiet Northern family life. He and his wife Jill have two sons, Evan and Aaron, and live in their home town of Durand, IL.
Brian is anxious and eager to share his experiences and knowledge with the ThisIsBracketRacing.com audience, and we’re ecstatic to have him involved with the website.