Brandon Wimmer Joins the Mean 15 In Pursuit of Rookie Honor Colorado Springs, CO -- February 6, 2005 -- Can there be such a thing as an experienced rookie? If you're Brandon Wimmer, there is. In an abbreviated 2004 schedule, Wimmer raced his...
Brandon Wimmer Joins the Mean 15 In Pursuit of Rookie Honor
Colorado Springs, CO -- February 6, 2005 -- Can there be such a thing as an experienced rookie? If you're Brandon Wimmer, there is.
In an abbreviated 2004 schedule, Wimmer raced his way to a 15th-place points finish with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, qualified for the King's Royal and set the single-lap record at La Salle Speedway. All of that helped him to earn a place in the 2005 version of the Mean 15.
And he's only 18. In fact, he won't graduate from Mississinewa High School in Gas City, Ind., until May. No matter, on Feb. 11 when the Outlaws roll into Volusia Speedway Park, Wimmer will be there to throw into gear his quest for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award.
He'll have some help, too. A Fairmount, Ind., native, Wimmer is driving a car owned in part by his grandfather, the legendary owner Tom Wimmer. The elder Wimmer has fielded cars for drivers such as Jeff Swindell, Dale Blaney and Greg Hodnett. But in bringing the operation full circle, noted engine-builder Joe Gaerte, a former series top rookie who also raced for Wimmer, will serve as crew chief.
"I'm ready to go," Wimmer said. "I wish I could race every day if it was possible. I'm just really happy that the season's getting ready to start. I'm glad I get to go out for my first full year with the World of Outlaws."
While it might be his first full campaign with the world's most revered sprint car series, Wimmer has been around dirt tracks all his life. He has raced in the Gumout Series and the Great Lakes Outlaw Sprint Series, winning two features in 2003. He even was the National Winged 410 Sprint Rookie of the Year in 2002.
After hanging out in his grandfather's race shop as a kid, Wimmer started driving go-karts in 1991. It wasn't until he started competing in mini-sprints did he make his career choice.
"I'd have to say my first year in mini-sprints when I was 14 was when I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life," Wimmer said. "I had been around them and thought it would be a fun thing to do, but when I got into the mini-sprints and started racing more it was just so much fun and I enjoyed doing it. The winter before I started racing sprint cars my grandfather asked if this is what I wanted to do because if it was, he would put a team together. I said, 'Of course.' It's just been a part of my life and it has been a dream of mine to race anything for a living and I'm glad I finally get to start doing it."
So with support from his father, Kevin Wimmer, Brandon's grandfather put together a team built for success.
"Grandpa has the experience working with all these people," Wimmer said. "He's really helped me mature as I've grown up. In interviews, he's helped me learn what I need to say and what I shouldn't say. He's been like a manager. If I have a question about anything, he's there to answer it. He's just like a best friend. He's always there when I need him. With the racing part, he knows so many people. Through him, it gave me a great chance to meet all those people who drove for him and worked for him. I have great friendships through all the people who worked with him. That's what kind of got me into it, being around people like Joe [Gaerte]. Joe drove for my grandpa for several years and when you're around him all the time you get to know him and become friends. It's just a lot of fun."
Because communication is so critical in racing, Wimmer's relationship with Gaerte gives him an advantage many young racers take years to build.
"It definitely helps," Wimmer said. "Joe and I haven't been around together racing, but we've been around talking. I was pretty little when Joe drove, but it wasn't like he wouldn't talk to me when I was at the race shop. Everybody was so friendly when I was younger. Little kids are always asking, 'Can I do this or can I do that?' They always gave me something to do when I was out there and that helped me to start liking racing.
What is even more impressive about Wimmer is that he has been able to maintain honor roll status at school while launching a career behind the wheel.
"It's really hard," said Wimmer, who is coming off a solid run in Outlaws Down Under II. "For Australia, I missed two weeks of school but I brought a tutor with me, which really helped. The school gave me all the work before we got out for Christmas so I got to do that during the break. I'm going to be missing quite a few days before I graduate in May. It's just a lot of work, but I've got to do it because it is just part of my life right now. School is very important and I know I need to graduate, that's another goal in my life. Just going to school is hard enough, but missing days and making them up isn't easy, either. There's a tutor around home that I can get help from so it's not that bad, but it's that much more work to put on top of the racing."
Of course, his extra-curricular activity makes him the envy of his friends.
"My friends really think it's neat, especially the ones who are into cars," Wimmer said. "They don't realize how high-tech they are. From a distance, the cars don't look high-tech but when they get up by them they really like it and a lot of them come out to the races when I'm close."
Don't be fooled by his youth, though. Wimmer is far from being intimidated on the track when the Outlaws are racing wheel-to-wheel at incredible speeds.
"I've been around the Outlaws and I've beaten them in heat races," Wimmer said. "I've pretty much beat everybody in a feature, I just haven't won one yet. It's not that big of a deal. You just go out there and do the best you can do. If you beat the big guys, that's great.
"You've got to go out and prove yourself and that's what I've really been working on the past few years. That's what I'm going out to do this year, to prove myself to the race fans, the drivers and everybody who has something to do with racing that I can drive a race car."