AVON — Adults always marvel seeing youth take on challenges with ease. That is often the case when watching Avon’s Brad Cole Jr., an 11-year-old who is quickly proving to be a prodigy in drag racing.
Following in the footsteps of his racing family of father Mark and older sister Ashley, Cole Jr. appears to be a natural in the driver’s seat. His 2013 season featured a run of six consecutive event wins, topped with his victory in the NHRA Junior Drag Racing League Huddleston Performance Eastern Conference Junior Nationals 8.90 Index Class.
To those who know his family, it is really no surprise that Brad has taken up the sport.
“(Brad) started racing when he was nine years old,” Mark said. “I have raced for as long as I have had a driver’s license, and my parents raced before I did. Brad’s sister Ashley started racing when she was nine years old, and he has followed in her footsteps.”
Junior drag racing features scaled down versions of the famous top fuel rail drag racing cars. The challenge of handling the car goes up as the competitors grow in the sport.
“My car is a half scale, and it was made in 2008,” Brad said. “As you get older, they put different size engines in. Right when I started out, I had a motor that would go 50 miles an hour. When you get up to 10, you get a 75 mile per hour motor, which is what I have now. When you get up to 13, you get the fastest motor, which is 85 miles per hour.”
Brad cites Mark as his biggest influence in the sport.
“I watched my dad at the race track, and I thought the dragsters were pretty cool,” Brad said. “One day, my dad asked my sister about getting a dragster. Then, when I was eight, my dad asked me if I wanted to get one, and I did not really want one. But, the next year, I said ‘Oh, Dad, I really want to get a dragster!”
That Brad was good at racing has not been a surprise. But, even his family was caught off guard by how he has taken to the track.
“(Brad) just gets drag racing, and he has from the very beginning,” Mark said. “Ashley was a student of the game and was constantly working in the garage and learning about the cars. I am not sure if it came from watching (his sister and me), but, he just has a natural talent and understands what he is doing.”
The Coles have increased their travels as the wins have come along. A typical summer now finds the family venturing to tracks across Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, and St. Louis for events sanctioned through the Midwest Junior Super Series and the American Drag Racing League (ADRL).
“At the end of June, Brad won an ADRL race in Michigan,” Mark said. “That was not just a junior-only event, but an invitational only event. Then, in Bristol, he qualified and advanced to the Eastern Conference Nationals and won his age group, which took nine rounds to do. For him to win against the best from so many other tracks was a big accomplishment.”
The family has enjoyed watching Brad in the spotlight. After the ADRL event, Brad was interviewed in the Winner’s Circle and signed autographs, just like the adult division champions.
Brad’s success just continues a trophy run in the family. Besides Brad’s ongoing accomplishments, the family trophy case has been getting filled through the years with Mark recently winning the Super Pro gas division at Lucas Oil Raceway to earn a top “Wally” award, and Ashley having won the 13-year-old national title two years ago.
Is there a future in the sport into adulthood? Only time will tell.
“I would not mind doing this when I get older,” Brad said. “But, I might want to try another sport, and still do drag racing on weekends.”