Getting Up To Speed With…Brandon Penney
By Ben Deatherage
(Photo Courtesy of Ken O'Neil)
One of the nicest guys you can meet in the pit area at Sunset Speedway Park is Vernonia’s Brandon Penney. Formerly from the city of Portland, Penney enters his second year in the Northwest Extreme Modified classification this year. 2013 seen the former Sunset Speedway Park Modified Rookie of the Year run a limited schedule due to taking on the duties of timing and scoring but this year he plans to race fulltime.
Penney started his racing career at the Portland Speedway in the 1990’s running in both the Street Stock and Enduro ranks. After moving up to the Limited Late Model division he would travel around to run several regional tracks before eventually becoming a dirt track racer. Now let’s get up to speed with Brandon Penney.
Driver: Brandon Penney
Home Track: Sunset Speedway Park
Hometown: Vernonia, Oregon
Occupation: Building Intelligent Model Manager
Years Racing: 5
Classification: Northwest Extreme Modified
Team: Penney Racing
Car Number: 00
Chassis: Lockwood Special Sponsors: Advocare, Perfection Automotive, Duncan Automotive, Aloha Station Tavern
Special Thanks: J.C. and Sandy Penney (Father and Mother), Nicole Penney (Wife)
BD: Well Brandon now that the 2014 season is only a few months away what are your plans this upcoming season?
BP: This year I plan on racing at Sunset Speedway Park while also making some trips to the Cottage Grove Speedway. I’ve always wanted to race Cottage Grove and since they have started a class that I run it gives me a chance to do a little bit of travelling and it also gets me some more experience. I’m really excited they have a Northwest Extreme Modified class this year.
BD: Last year you and your lovely wife Nicole did scoring and timing up in the tower. How difficult was it for you to switch hats during the course of the season on nights you had to race?
BP: Honestly it was more difficult to find someone to drive the car for me when I couldn’t race due to focusing on my scoring duties. On nights where I did both it was a challenge because I was more concerned with the scoring tower running smoothly then how I was performing on the track.
We used a new program to help with lineups and keep track of season points that was great for the track. We had a few hick ups along the way at first but it all turned out okay once we ironed everything out.
BD: Talking to you during this offseason it sounds like you’ve got a big interest in R/C racing. So it’s safe to say that you almost race year round?
BP: [laughs] Yeah, during the winter I go and race indoor carpet R/C cars. They have a ton of traction and you have to be consistent lap after lap. Basically they’re battery operated R/C cars. Right now I have a World GT and a GP2 cars and its pretty fun.
BD: I’m curious on how you got your start in racing. Was it a family thing or did something just lure you in?
BP: It was really family. I went to the old Portland Speedway back in 1984 with my family. A gentleman that lived down the street from us named Dan Riehl had a car and after a race I went and met him and his son Brandon. After a while I started helping on their cars and Brandon and I became really good friends while my dad also helped build cars.
I eventually started racing on pavement at Portland Speedway with the Street Stocks and then went to the Enduro class which was really fun. After that I got back into a Street Stock and started running at the Race City USA in Hermiston and eventually got into a Limited Late Model and ran Hermiston, Spokane County Raceway, Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, and South Sound Speedway in Tenino, Washington. My biggest highlight was probably winning my first Figure-8 race at Portland.
My introduction to dirt was from helping the Tanner family out and I raced a couple of times at River City Speedway in St. Helens. I took my car out to Willamette Speedway once with them and won the E Main in my Street Stock and my dad was stoked. Once they closed Portland I traveled around the country for work so I didn’t race much. When I came back I got a Modified and rebuilt it from the ground up. I’ve been working on that for the last two years.
BD: How much fun was it to run in the Northwest Extreme Modified class last year compared to years past with the A-Mods?
BP: It was really fun. It allowed me to work on my car and figure things out. I was also relieved that I didn’t have the pressure to run against the fast A-Mod guys and be a lapped car or just finish half a race. I put a couple of guys in the car earlier in the year to figure some things out and by the end of the season it was a car that was able to run up front.
BD: Is there any reason you run the #00?
BP: When I was a real little kid about the age of 6 or 7 a neighbor there was a hot rod guy that gave me a number plate for my bike. The number on it was 00 and I started running it from there.
Sunset Speedway Park enters the 2014 season with an action packed schedule that you do not want to miss out on. The first event of the season is a test and tune play day scheduled to take place on Saturday April 5th while the first race of the year will be held on the 19th. To get the latest information and read the most recent stories regarding SSP log on to www.sunsetspeedwaypark.com.