When Brian Sims told his father Greg that he wanted to build a racecar and go racing, the elder Sims told his son, “You’re crazy. You don’t realize what you are getting into.”
Some 10 years after that conversation, both son and father are on the same page as the two Hope natives prepare for the upcoming season.
Greg Sims, 54, began his racing career in 1989 at Brownstown Speedway. The 1979 graduate of Hauser High School, who is now a district manager for 13 O’Reilly Auto Parts stores in south central Indiana, earned Rookie of the Year honors that season in the street stock division behind the wheel of his red Camaro stockcar.
Greg raced until 1994, when he decided to step away from racing and concentrate on family and his job.
Brian Sims, 30, went with his parents and uncle to the races when he was 5 years old.
“I loved going to the races and watching my dad,” Brian recalled. “He raced until I was about 10 years old. My mom (Dottie) and uncle (David) watched over me at the track. My dad was my hero, along with drivers like Mike Jewell and Tim Clark — those two guys won a ton of races.”
The lull in the Sims’ racing came to an end in 2006, when Brian, who works for his brother Craig’s company, Professional Concrete Cutting, decided he was going to build a car and start racing.
“My dad quit going cold turkey — he never went back to even watch the races,” recalled Brian, a 2003 Hauser grad. “I thought if I build a car, maybe he would help me and maybe I could get him to start going again.”
When the younger Sims heard what his reluctant father had told him about getting into racing, it took a while for it to sink in.
“He wasn’t being negative about it,” Brian said. “He was telling me the simple truth because he had been through it trying to raise a family and working a job, and that racing takes a lot of time and money to do and he didn’t want to see me neglect anything. He is a very smart man.”
Brian built a Pure Stock division car that he raced from 2006 through 2010. He then bought a Bomber car from fellow racer Josh Turner of Edinburgh. Those early years wheeling a racecar taught the younger Sims a good lesson.
“When I first started racing, I was a wild man,” Brian Sims recalled. “I had no idea what I was getting into. I would wreck myself or someone else. It was tough. So I thought if I am going to stay in racing I had better learn how to drive one of those things the right way.”
Things started to turn around for Brian when he raced the Bomber car for the first time.
“We got it together on a Thursday,” he said, “and the next night we went to Bloomington Speedway and won with it.
“We went to Brownstown the next night and we were going for two in a row. Well, it didn’t work out that way. We set (a) fast time, but we broke and didn’t finish the feature.”
During 2010 while running the Bomber car, Brian bought a Pure Stock. Guess who he decided to put behind the wheel? That’s right — his dad, who finally decided to end his retirement from racing.
In 2010, Brian drove a Hornet asphalt car converted to race on dirt. He was pretty successful, winning several feature events at Rushville, Shelbyville, Lawrenceburg and Scottsburg.
From 2011 to 2013, he drove for Jimmy Streeval of Edinburgh.
Brian Sims credits not only Streeval, but Dean Warriner from WW Auto in Hope for helping him out during the early portion of his career.
“I have to thank Jimmy for giving me an opportunity to drive his car,” he said, “and to Dean for helping me out — when something broke, he was always right there getting me a part to fix the car.”
In 2014, Brian made the decision to go Late Model racing.
“I had always wanted to race a Late Model,” he said. “The problem when we got into in ’14 was that it was an outdated chassis, and we had no idea what to do to the car once we had it.
“I tried to get people to help us. Nobody would. We didn’t know how to scale the car, set it up, what tires to run, what gears to run. We got a motor from a guy in Alabama, it had way more horsepower than anything I had ever run. … I just became frustrated with it, and I decided to trade it for a truck.”
One of Brian’s biggest thrills in racing occurred last year at Brownstown Speedway, when he set a new track record in qualifying for the Pure Stock division with a time of 16.497 seconds.
For 2016, the team goals include being competitive, having fun and winning some races with their Pure Stock. Next year, the plan is to go back to a Late Model.
One of Brian’s individual goals is to finally get his father a feature win.
“I have approximately 15 wins, and he is still looking to win his first,” Brian said. “Hopefully we can get that done this year. Plus, one of my crew members, Larry Stone of Hope, will be racing as well. So we are going to race three cars this year.”
James Essex is the motorsports columnist for The Republic, a sister paper of The Tribune. Send comments to email@example.com.