Hunter wants to finish what his uncle started, 20 years ago at Indianapolis.
Twenty years ago this month, Scott Brayton made his qualifying run that landed him the pole position for the 1995 Indianapolis 500, averaging 231.604 mph over ten miles. He won the pole again in 1996, but tragically lost his life in a practice crash days later.
Twenty years after that '95 triumph, his nephew, Hunter Brayton, is attempting to jumpstart his racing career and settle some of the unfinished business his family name has with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
When asked about his family’s unfinished business and his uncle’s pole position twenty years ago, he was quick to respond with a prophecy.
“In five years, there will be another one. Five years,” he declared to Motorsport.com
However, in order to gain a good ride in racing, it requires results, funding and a little bit of luck, but not necessarily in that order.
Such is the case for Brayton.
Brayton, a 16-year-old from Coldwater, Michigan, is driving in the SCCA F600 challenge. His results have been positive so far, with a third at MSR Houston earlier this year and last year he earned a second at Road Atlanta and a third at Mid-Ohio.
The road to Indy
Outside of the F600 series, Brayton does not have a dedicated team to drive for, which can prove problematic for finding sponsorship, as his father Todd explains.
“The most difficult thing for us is to not have a home [team]. If I go and ask somebody ‘Would you give me money for my son to run?’ and they say ‘Cool, where are you going to run?’ Well, we don’t have a home.”
“And so the thing that would be the best for us is if one of the teams would step up and say ‘We’re going to run him or at least test him, and see where he is, and actually say he’s going to be our driver,’ I think we could find some sponsorship money, but to just say ‘Give me your dollars and I’ll get you where you want to go,’ that’s hard to do because they’re not really sure who you’re going to give it to, and that’s really hard for us,” the elder Brayton said.
Hunter agreed with his dad’s assessment.
“We’re searching every day for people on the internet, we’re asking everybody every day if they’d like to be on a car. Unfortunately with the bad economy, most people say no, however we are working and trying to get deals every single day.”
The Braytons were able to go around the Mazda Road to Indy paddock while at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy Grand Prix weekend, and meeting people at the track was something they needed to do in order to prepare for Hunter’s future attack on the IndyCar ladder series.
“I think it was good, I mean it was a good business weekend for us, meeting John [Cummiskey] was nice, I think he’s a genuine guy. I think that there’s some things that we could do there, we’re good friends with the Rahals as well and he mentioned that tie there (Cummiskey was a team manager at Ganassi when Graham Rahal was there) and maybe we could do something. You’ve always got to be at the racetrack,” Todd said.
Hunter was one in the same mind with his father on that opinion, speaking from behind the grandstands at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“Right over that fence is where I want to go, and everybody on that row of the fence is the teams, so I mean just getting my name out there and saying that I can drive and that I’m very fast, I think that was very beneficial to us.”
It can be done
After hearing his son’s prediction about winning the pole in five years, Todd was enthusiastic about his son’s chances about getting behind the wheel.
“I think it could be done. As I said earlier, if you can drive a car, you can drive a car. My brother went from a 1600cc Formula Ford to an Indy Car in one jump. It can be done if you can drive the car. [If] there’s someone out there that’s willing to let him drive the car, I think that we’ll prove to them he can run the car. The thing is, we’ve got to be able to do that, we’ve got to be able to drive the car. I think we’ll get that done. I really do.”
“If they choose to go with this young man, it’ll benefit them because money will come their way, but they have to have a home, they have to have a place where they know where their money is going to be spent, or else they’re not going to do it.”
Hunter’s next event is at the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Kentucky on June 12th. His Facebook page is Hunter Brayton Racing.