Brian Birkhofer is back! Sort of…
Brian Birkhofer: “But, running my own team, I just got tired of the nervousness of it. I had to have success on the race track to pay for everything.”
What does a racing driver do when they somewhat retire from dirt racing? Brian Birkhofer is still in the automotive business, per say. These days, he owns an automotive fabrication shop.
“I fabricate and I mechanic,” Birkhofer explained to RacingNews.co . “I guess there’s always something to do for me. Cars, tractors, trucks and fixing this, fixing that. A little bit of mechanician but mostly fabrication.”
He might not be circling the dirt track as frequently as he used to but business on that has been picking up in recent years as well. Before the trip to Mansfield in August, he was piloting a Longhorn Chassis for Jason Rauen.
On July 6th, he ran 4th in a World of Outlaws show at Dubuque Speedway. The next night we followed the Outlaws to Deer Creek Speedway where he ran 9th. On July 24, the ran at Davenport Speedway with a 13th place finish having having issues in qualifying.
Now, the team has a Black Diamond Chassis. The car made it’s debut at Mansfield Motor Speedway for the inaugural Dirt Million event. He picked up a win in the first race behind the new Black Diamond. Birkhofer grabbed the heat race win and transferred into the Dirt Million main event.
“This car here feels better than that other car did. I’m not saying there was anything wrong with the [Longhorn] car or even the shocks. It was just a feel I didn’t like.”
“I’m back on my Integras. It’s just a company that was around for a long time. The car feels a little better and the shock package is definitely better. That’s why I’m able to come and win a heat race … just because I got some comfort zone in it right away.”
What’s the update on your racing program? Would you call it ‘out of retirement’?
“I wouldn’t call it out of retirement. Jason [Rauen] and I have been friends and acquaintances for awhile. I raced this car last year. He called me up about racing it this year. Two turned into three and now it’s four.”
“We’re talking about running it a couple more times this year. Then maybe doing some more next year. I don’t really want to call it full-time again though.”
“I don’t really want to go back racing full-time. We’ll see what happens.”
When you left the first time was it because you didn’t like the grind of it?
“For me, it was more about the finances. You know, the sport doesn’t get any cheaper. The equipment that’s in the trailers and the engineering side and what you gotta put into it financially to race, it’s huge.”
“I had sponsors. But, running my own team, I just got tired of the nervousness of it. I had to have success on the race track to pay for everything.”
“The guys that are out here racing, the younger guys and the older guys got good sponsors and car owners that can spend what it takes to win. It was just easy for me to walk away.”
“I wanted to drive a little bit again. But, I don’t want to get back into the full fledged owning it, day in and day out type of thing.”
Is it easy to just jump back in? Is it like ridding a bike or no?
“Well it comes back. I was a little rusty the first couple times.”
“I was fortunate to be able to practice a little bit with this car Tuesday before we even came to Mansfield. This is a new car. That helps just to get the initial feel of the car. The tendencies and what it wants to do.”
“Then, we come out here to Mansfield. This type of track isn’t really my forte I would say. The rough, kinda silty. It’s racy but I don’t know if there’s going to be a bunch of passing.”
“I like the flat half miles or something like that. But, we’ve been alright. A little bit of rust but it kinda comes back.”
So, are you talking about running a little more in 2019? Or would it be about the same as 2018?
“Jason and I will talk after the end of the year. If we run a couple more times we’ll sit down and have a talk about what he expects. About what he wants to do and about what I want to do.”
“I still want to have my weekends here or there so I can take my family camping and stuff like that. That’s just where I’m at in my life. I don’t really want to be at a race track every weekend.”
For now, he’s back behind the wheel. This weekend, Birkhofer won another heat race in the first night of the 2018 World 100 at Eldora Speedway. The event has since been postponed to October.
Related: Dirt Million: Race Results – 2018
Related: Ronnie Stuckey details the making of visual chassis calls without any driver to crew communication