Race Weekend Central

Beyond the Cockpit: Brian Scott on Growing Up, Branching Out & Having Fun

CONCORD, N.C.Brian Scott has been racing in the national touring series of NASCAR since 2007, most recently driving in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 11 car. He is currently eighth in the driver points standings with two top fives, six top 10s and a pole so far this season.

He has scored one career win in the Camping World Truck Series, which came at Dover in 2009. During a break in practice at Charlotte for the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage, Scott sat down with Mike Neff to talk about everything from racing mini sprints to bow hunting for elk and helicopter skiing.

Mike Neff, Frontstretch: You were born in Idaho and grew up racing open wheel cars out there. What is your favorite track in Idaho?

Brian Scott: The only track I really raced in Idaho was a little eighth-mile dirt track called the Owyhee Motorcycle Club. It was more of a home for motorcycles and some supercross type of racing. They had a flat little dirt track and we ended up getting a mini sprint group together and they started racing before it came along, but it was in its infancy.

We built some cars and I raced with my dad and my grandpa raced, I had some uncles who raced. We went out there and had a lot of fun. It was just a hobby. We did it as often as we could. We purposely took ourselves out of a couple of races because we didn’t want to get involved in the politics of a championship and all of that. We just wanted to have fun and wanted to keep it fun. So that was my only track and my favorite track.

Neff: What about in the state of Washington? I saw that you did some racing in Washington in your open-wheel days too.

Scott: When I progressed and the mini sprints got a little more serious, we started traveling into Washington, into the northern part of Washington. There’s a smaller dirt track in the area called Deming. They used to have a big mini sprint race every year called the Clay Cup. We’d go race our 600cc mini sprint and I finished in the top five a couple of times in that.

Right down the street was Skagit, where they raced the big 360s and 410s, and that was my first introduction into the full-size sprint cars from the mini sprints. Watching those guys and being like, ‘wow that’s incredible, those things are huge and have so much power.’

When I was like 15 or 16 we made the leap into that; we got into the 360 sportsman class at Skagit, which is cast iron wheels. It is the rookie class, the beginner class. We did that and then we got into 360 Pro and then did the 360 and 410, I was racing both of those on a regular basis. That was my progression through the dirt ranks which I did until I graduated from high school. Then I moved out here in 2006 and started racing asphalt in super late models.

Neff: Do you ever get back into a mini sprint?

Scott: Y’know, my dad has a little bit of an island where we do some farming and we have some upland bird and game habitat. So we do a little hunting there and we built a little dirt track when I started out, so we could go out there and practice and have fun. We had like five or six mini sprints and we’d go out there and have family races and play around, and then when I started racing asphalt he paved it.

Then we got some Legends cars and some Focus midgets and some 1,200cc mini sprints that we converted to asphalt. It is still a lot of fun, we still have the track and we go out there and fool around and talk trash to family members and have a good time. That’s about the only time I ever get into anything like that, a Focus midget or a 1,200cc mini sprint.

Neff: You need to come up to Millbridge Speedway and run a mini outlaw sprint car sometime with [Justin] Allgaier and [Jimmy] Elledge and the boys.

Scott: I should. I’ve been around and watched those guys in the outlaw karts. They’re a little different than a mini sprint but they have a good time. I don’t know, there will probably come a day when I get a little outlaw kart and come out there and race with them.

Neff: You raced super late models when you first moved out this way. Was there a specific series you raced with or did you just cherry pick races to get experience everywhere?

Scott: We did the PASS Series and some CRA races. We traveled around because we just wanted to race as often as we could. We’d go and run the Winchester 400 and we ran the Blizzard Series that leads up to the Snowball Derby. We ran the Miller Lite Series at Mobile. We’d run Pensacola on Friday and Mobile on Saturday; they used to have a kind of doubleheader deal.

We’d run the Rattler at OPP, we’d run Winchester, Salem, we ran the All-American 400. We ran as often as we could, Hickory in the PASS Series. It was all about getting experience on as many different tracks as we possibly could so if there was a race that weekend we’d go to it.

Neff: What is it like working with Coach Gibbs?

Scott: Coach Gibbs is a great guy. He is a tremendous role model for the team in business, as well as personal life away from the track. He’s done a tremendous job and you know JD does a great job in following in his dad’s footsteps. They really lead the company in the straight and narrow. They keep everybody working together. Everybody really has great morale working there. Everybody wants to succeed, everybody wants to be a part of Joe Gibbs Racing.

They do a really good job of providing a family atmosphere that everybody seems to enjoy. It is the most together group I have ever seen all working with a singular focus on getting performance better and getting Joe Gibbs Racing better and I think that is why they have a tremendous amount of success. They’ve been lucky enough, they treat sponsors right; (sponsors) have a good home.

Fortunately, we were able to announce we’re bringing a new [sponsor] on with Dollar General, which I’m sure is going to turn into a long-term relationship because everybody that comes over and gets into the Joe Gibbs family immediately sees why everybody speaks so highly of them, why it is such a great place to be.

So we’re happy to announce that, happy to always be expanding and continue to represent sponsors that they’ve had forever. It is just a great environment is what I’m getting at, from being a driver for them, from being a mechanic for them, to being a sponsor related to them it is just a great environment,

Neff: Outside of the racetrack what do you like to do? I know I read that you like to do some hunting and fishing.

Scott: Well, I’m just a country boy at heart. I grew up in Idaho, which is like what a lot of people would think of. There is a lot of wilderness, but there are also a lot of things to do. I grew up hunting and fishing and camping, motorcycling, snowmobiling, skiing, doing stuff out on the lake. Just always going, always doing something, rock climbing, and as I’ve become my own man and become an adult that is still the kind of things I like to do.

I like to go out and fool around with anything with a motor, little karts or motorcycles, ride Harleys. I get back to Idaho as often as I can, go up in the mountains and go skiing with dad, go helicopter skiing, do snowmobiles, go sledding, just whatever. I like to be outside and moving. I like enjoying nature and doing things that kind of get my blood pressure up.

Neff: What kind of hunting do you like to do? I know you were talking about upland birds earlier.

Scott: We do a lot of bird hunting when big game is not in season. Fall is the time of year that I look forward to the most because we have elk season that opens up, we have deer season that opens up. After Chicago when we had the week off was actually when the bow season for elk opened up. So I took a week and went up there and we chased them around and got all over them but didn’t get one.

Right now, in two days, rifle opens up for elk; we have two weeks off so I’m going to fly back to Idaho and rifle hunt for elk and have a lot of fun. Regardless of the outcome I enjoy being out there and doing it. Then, as Thanksgiving rolls around, deer season opens up it is something I enjoy doing with my dad and my family. Hopefully, even though I say I’m happy regardless of the outcome, these next couple hunts will be a little more successful than bow hunting.

Neff: Bow hunting for elk looks amazing. I can’t imagine having an animal that large being that close to you.

Scott: It actually takes you a couple of close encounter experiences with elk before you are actually ready to shoot one. I can remember the first couple times one came in close enough that I could smell its breath and see the snot running out of its nose. It bugled right on top of me and my hands were shaking.

It takes a while to be able to steady your nerves and get to the point but last year, for the first time in three attempts at bow hunting for elk I finally got one. It was a tremendous feeling of accomplishment; it was really neat. Unfortunately this year I was not able to double down and duplicate that but it is fun and enjoyable.

Neff: Have you ever tried to run the Martinsville late model race?

Scott: No, y’know I’ve never run late model stocks. All of our stuff was in super late models and they never had a race for those at Martinsville.

Neff: At Atlanta, you ran a Boise State paint scheme. Have you ever done any promotional work with the university or was it just a one-off deal, because I know they were trying to do a bunch of different schools when it was appropriate?

Scott: It was actually an opportunity that came to us through some work that we do with the JA & Kathryn Albertson Foundation. My dad is the chairman of the board, I’m on the board of directors for it. It is a non-profit organization that aims to improve education in Idaho.

Recently, we started a media campaign to raise awareness of the importance to go out and get a post-secondary education. Either a technical college or go on to college in the state of Idaho, and how beneficial it is for the economy, and the spokesperson for that campaign is Coach Peterson from Boise State.

So, we worked kind of hand-in-hand with them on the Go On campaign and we developed a relationship, and when we figured out we were going to be racing in Atlanta when they were opening their season in the Georgia Dome we said ‘Hey, maybe we can do something here that would be a neat little thing for ESPN to cover to do some joint relation type stuff.’

It would also raise awareness of our program and brand me as a guy who is from Boise, from Idaho, a spokesperson for going on and becoming educated or developing a particular kind of skill set to go on out of high school.

Neff: Nice! Now, do you have a degree?

Scott: I do not have a degree, which is kind of the ironic part about it. I did go on and develop a skill that I am utilizing. The whole point isn’t to go on to college and get a degree, [but] go to technical school, become a mechanic, become an electrician. We are at a deficit of people who are plumbers or electricians, who have developed through an apprenticeship, masons and stuff like that. The point is go on, get educated, develop a skill and then utilize it. Go on to be prolific member of society.

Neff: Tell me about helicopter skiing. I’ve seen the Red Bull kind of stuff on commercials. Is it that extreme all of the time?

Scott: When they’re shooting videos they are always going for the most extreme. We don’t do the type of stuff that would put us or our family in danger, like jumping off a 100-foot cliff. We go out there and there is a very real danger of avalanches and the skiing is in some pretty gnarly terrain, but we’re very safe about it. We wear avalanche beacons and it is a lot of fun.

I’m just privileged because growing up my dad had a helicopter and he is a helicopter pilot, so we had the capability to go out and do it ourselves. We didn’t have to go find an outfitter or something to do it with, we can strap the bucket on and go out and ski just a couple minutes’ helicopter ride from our lodging in tons and tons of millions of acres of this incredible terrain.

Neff: Do you miss running on dirt?

Scott: Oh yeah, I love watching the World of Outlaws and think, ‘Man it would be great to get out there and dice it up again’. Reminisce about the good ol’ days, side-by-side, no radios, running 25-50 laps races and it is all out, you’re running the cushion, passing people, slide jobs.

It is just an exhilarating form of racing that I would love to get back into and have the opportunity to do like you see Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart that are still able to go and run a race here and there and have a sprint car team. It would be a lot of fun and is hopefully something I can do here in the near future.

Neff: Have you ever run a full-bodied car on dirt?

Scott: No, I’ve never run a dirt late model. I’ve never done that unfortunately. Just open-wheel mini sprints and sprint cars.

Neff: Toughest question of the day: Have you and Aric Almirola talked after Kansas?

Scott: I have made every effort that I possibly know how to make to reach out and talk with him to try and put this deal behind us. The ball is in his court at this time. We’ll see if we can get this sorted out before the end of the year before equipment has to start getting wrecked.

Scott went on to come home in fifth place in the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage race before heading off to hunt for elk in Idaho. The finish was his second-best of the season and left him eighth in points, 223 away from the top spot with just three races left this year.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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