Teen creates family connection at Caraway

ASHEBORO — When Blaise Brinkley is behind the wheel of his stock car at Caraway Speedway, there are all sorts of connections that surface.

“I get told that every time I go race out there,” Brinkley said of spectators recalling his father’s racing days. “They said, ‘I watched your dad here and he was a wheelman.’ ”

That’s in reference to Brad Brinkley, a past champion at the track. Now there’s a new generation emerging, with 18-year-old Blaise Brinkley leading the Late Models points as the 2021 season has passed the midway mark.

“He races more like a veteran,” Brad Brinkley said of his son. “He has basically always been at the racetrack growing up.”

The Brinkleys live in Sanford, so they make the approximate one-hour drive for competition at Caraway Speedway.

Blaise Brinkley has sped into the spotlight in his first season of racing at the Asheboro track. But he has been training for this for several years.

Half his life has involved handling a car at some level. He began in the Bandolero cars at age 9 in Charlotte.

“He just kept taking to it,” Brad Brinkley said.

The result was six track titles in five years while driving Bandolero cars, winning at places such as Southern National Motorsports Park, Wake County Speedway and East Carolina Motor Speedway.

Brad Brinkley had success behind the wheel at Caraway Speedway. He won the Mini Stocks division in 1996 and then claimed track titles in Late Models in 2006 and 2011. 

“That’s kind of got a special place in our heart,” Brad Brinkley said.

Following that last championship, he stepped away from full-time racing. 

The Brinkley family racing legacy could have another addition soon. Blaise’s younger brother Bryson, 11, has started to compete.

Blaise Brinkley, who drives a Chevy Camaro in competition, is a recent graduate of Lee Early College in Sanford.

Brinkley leads the Late Models points with 889, followed by Blake Bledsoe’s 839. Brinkley has won three of seven features this year.

“We tried some new stuff and it has really been working,” Brinkley said. “There’s so many emotions out there and having family out there.”

On the Caraway Speedway track, he’s pursuing the same goals as drivers twice his age.

“Being in the points battle is kind of stressful sometimes,” Brinkley said. “I try not to think about it too much. I just try to go out and have fun.”

Brinkley has started to get more involved in the business aspect of racing. He’s working in Raleigh helping with set-ups for Bandolero and Legends cars used by younger drivers.

For now, he wants to keep seeing what he can do as a driver on weekends.

“It’s just what I’m happy doing and I want to do it as long as I can afford it,” he said.

Another race night

Saturday night’s Hot Summer Clash at Caraway Speedway will include racing in Late Models, Challengers, Mini Stocks, U-Cars, 602 Mods and Legends classes.

Aside from Brinkley, the Late Models class features Bledsoe, who has been consistent with a first place, a second and three third places, and Boo Boo Dalton of Liberty. Dalton has entered four times at Caraway, winning two appearances before a 13th place July 3. Dylan Ward has won in two of three outings.

In the 602 Mods, Lee Jeffreys and Rich Hunter are tied with 588 points.

The Mini Stocks class shows Brandon Collins (947) atop the standings, followed by Johnny Baker (869). Baker has won two of the last three races. Collins hasn’t finished first this year.

Other track points leaders are Mike Chambers (852 points in Challengers) and AJ Bisco (795 points in U-Cars).

By Bob Sutton