By Kelly Wade
Brian McGinnis is an unassuming man. The drag racer who hails from Kent, Washington, isn’t particularly fond of the spotlight, but throughout 2021, he kept finding himself right in front of it as he picked up multiple wins at his claimed home track, Bremerton Raceway, and ultimately earned the Bottom Bulb national championship in the ThisIsBracketRacing.com Drivers Series.
“This is a huge deal for a local bracket racer,” said McGinnis, who won four races at Bremerton Raceway en route to securing the series title. “I race for fun at my local track, so to have this platform is awesome. I never would have imagined being recognized like this. It’s definitely my biggest accomplishment to this point.”
The series launched in mid-2020 and immediately began to gain momentum as an opportunity for local racers to be recognized for their accomplishments on a national level. Select dragstrips across the country host events that also count towards the ThisIsBracketRacing.com Driver Series. Racers may claim one home racetrack and earn 10 points per round won there at the designated events. Three additional points are awarded for a victory, two for a runner-up, and one bonus mark for a semifinals finish. The final point tally is based on a driver’s six best races of eight.
Tucson Dragway’s Brad Hawk was leading the Bottom Bulb points heading into the summer, but as Hawk’s momentum began to wane, McGinnis was turning it up a notch. By August, the Pacific Northwest racer made up ground and pushed into the points lead for a final best-of-eight tally of 332 to Hawk’s 291.
The season began on an unfortunate note at Bremerton Raceway with a rain out, but the first event that ran to completion was an immediate high for McGinnis. That was the race he would come to count as pivotal to his ultimate success.
“I ended up winning, and it was a great way to start the series,” he said. “Then after winning the second race that counted in points, I felt like I was in a good position. I just kept tallying points, and it worked out.”
In addition to earning the ThisIsDragRacing.com Drivers Series Bottom Bulb national championship, McGinnis was awarded the Bremerton Raceway track championship in Pro. His most successful weekends include one in which he claimed the trophy in both Pro and Super Pro in his 1956 Chevrolet 210.
“It was a lot of fun that day; I put a lot of laps on the car,” he recalled, then went on to explain how he acquired his cool shoebox Chevy, a car that was purchased by his grandfather in the mid-70s and then raced by his dad and uncles through the 1980s and ’90s with McGinnis Bros. on the door.
“I had been racing one form or another my entire life, beginning with BMX bikes when I was 7 and then got into motocross when I was 10,” he explained. “But I got hurt – broke my pelvis and spent months in a wheelchair – so I was done with that. I wasn’t really looking for the next hobby, but I knew the ’56 was parked in a trailer in my grandparents’ backyard. One year at Easter, I asked my grandma if I could go look at it.”
His grandmother handed him the keys that Sunday in 2013, and McGinnis trekked out back to get a glimpse of the family heirloom.
“As soon as I opened up the door of the trailer, it was like a lightbulb went off. I knew it was the next thing,” he recalled.
It took a couple years of rejuvenation and renovation, but McGinnis had the car up, running, and race-ready for its closeup in 2015. Although the dragstrip wasn’t his first love in motorsports, McGinnis learned the mechanics of drag racing quickly. He was the track champion in Pro at his most-local racetrack, Pacific Raceways, for three consecutive seasons, and in 2020, he wore both the Pro and Super Pro crowns at season’s end.
McGinnis says that his decision to compete at Bremerton Raceway was largely motivated by the fact that they were hosting the ThisIsBracketRacing.com Drivers Series in 2021.
“They do a lot with a little there,” said McGinnis. “[President of Handlers Racing Association at Bremerton Raceway] Dennis Boley and those guys put in a lot of effort, and it was a good experience.”
As for next season, newly christened national champion McGinnis plans to return for more of the same – but he’d also like to up his game a bit. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will venture to Pacific Raceways in August of 2022, and along with it will come the opportunity for McGinnis to enter his reliable Chevy in Super Street and compete for a coveted NHRA Wally.
“I think it would be fun to race a national event and experience that firsthand,” he said. “I’d like to try that and still do the same bracket racing locally, and if the Drivers Series is here again, I’ll do it. I have to thank This Is Bracket Racing for putting it on and giving a guy like me the chance to make a name for myself.”
McGinnis also thanked his wife, Jenna, for her support while he was gone most weekends racing; and his father, uncles, and cousin, who were at the racetrack for support and encouragement.
This story is part two of a three-part feature pertaining to the ThisIsBracketRacing.com Driver Series. Part three, dialing into the championship season of Top Bulb Champion Tripp West, will be released in the coming days. For part one of this feature, which details the 2021 ThisIsBracketRacing.com Driver Series, click here.
1. Brian McGinnis, Bremerton Raceway, 332
2. Brad Hawk, Tucson Dragway, 291
3. Shawn Nichols, Lebanon Valley, 276
4. Charles Wier, Ardmore Dragway, 266
5. Benny Gossett, Big Country Raceway, 249
6. Henry Roberson, Greer Raceway, 236
7. Kip Poole, Bremerton Raceway, 227
8. Brad Northrop, Numidia Dragway, 219
9. Chuck Hawk Jr., Tucson Dragway, 214
10. Chad Dotson, Greer Raceway, 207