Race Weekend Central

Bradley Erickson Balancing Racing, Life in 1st Full ARCA West Season

Through 11 races this season, 10 drivers have competed in every race on the ARCA Menards Series West schedule, one of those being Bradley Erickson. He currently sits fifth in ARCA West standings, with one race left to go at Phoenix Raceway. 

After debuting with Naake-Klauer Motorsports for a part-time schedule in 2022, the 17-year-old Erickson has moved to full time in 2023 with the team. After running the first eight races of the season with the team, he moved to Sigma Performance Services for the remainder of the season.

On the season, Erickson has eight top 10s in 11 races, three of which were top fives. Included in that category was his best career finish to date at his home track, Phoenix, in the season opener, where he finished third in Naake-Klauer No. 88. 

Prior to the ARCA West season finale at Phoenix, Erickson spoke with Frontstretch ARCA reporter Josh Calloni to discuss his season, his future, and how racing affects his life. 

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Josh Calloni, Fronstretch: What influenced you to get your start in racing?

Bradley Erickson: It started off with my grandfather, he brought an IndyCar in the late 90s, and he ran that until the early 2000s. My dad went to the track with him, but didn’t race anything at the time, and saw other divisions racing at the tracks, and ended up buying a corvette to run local time trial races. When I was about five years old, he got me into quarter midget racing, after we saw it on the news, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Calloni: So, you probably spent a lot of time growing up at the racetrack?

Erickson: Exactly yeah, I’d say a majority of my younger years were spent at the racetrack with my dad and my grandpa. 

Calloni: What tracks did you grow up racing at?

Erickson: In my area, I started out at South Mountain Speedway, which was about 20 minutes from my house. We ran there from the time I was five, to when we got out of quarter midgets. That basically became my home track, we won a lot of races there, and would even go there during the week to test. We had a lot of success doing that, and won a lot of races. Those were good times for sure. 

Calloni: How far would you travel as a youngster to race with your family?

Erickson: When I was in quarter midgets, we traveled back East, we went to Daytona, to Pocono, to the Brickyard and Indianapolis, Chicagoland, they had a bunch of quarter midget tracks out there that the USAC National races. We had a lot of fun doing that, me and my brother got to do it together. 

Calloni: Do you have any mentors within the sport? Either that you picked up from your time in ARCA, or growing up? 

Erickson: Definitely, on the NASCAR side, I look up to Joey Logano. Just the way his race craft is, and the way he is too. He’s really nice off the racetrack, but when he puts the helmet on and gets in the race car, he tries to get whatever that needs to be done. That’s something I like, you can be friendly to people off the racetrack, but take care of business once it’s time to go. 

Calloni: As for this season, you switched teams halfway through the season. What was that like, and how did that process get put into motion?

Erickson: We ran the first half of the season with Naake-Klauer Motorsports, and we had a few good runs with them. There were a couple times that we had some bad luck our way, but in the middle of the season we switched over to Sigma Performance Services. The first race we did was Roseville, and we struggled, but it was the team’s first race, so it was a lot of getting up and going. We’ve been getting better every race, we’ve been qualifying better, we’ve been finishing better, our performance has been better, and I’m excited for Phoenix.

Calloni: How do you balance attending high school full time, but also racing full time simultaneously? Do they ever overlap?

Erickson: With school, I just try to get my stuff done prior to going to the racetrack, because I know I won’t want to do it when I come back, because I’m usually pretty tired. If there’s a test a day that I’m gonna be gone, I’ll do it in the morning when I come back. 

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Calloni: Next year, you turn 18, do you have any aspirations to run in the ARCA national division on larger tracks?

Erickson: For the ARCA side, I’m not really sure what we’re gonna do next year. Maybe run a couple Truck races next year if the timing is right, and if everything is lined up. To run the national series, that’d be pretty cool to go and run all of the big tracks, like Daytona, Talladega, Charlotte, and Kansas. These are all tracks that I watched as a little kid and dreamt about racing on as a kid, and it’d be pretty cool to run them. 

Calloni: Since the age requirement keeps you off those bigger tracks, what’s the preparation like to go into a track like that?

Erickson: It’s definitely a lot of sim time, like you said. Other than that, just training your body, you have to work out and be fit to drive on those racetracks. They are intense, you go way faster. Sim time is the most crucial though.

Calloni: Lastly, the season is wrapping up, do you have any takeaways from 2023, or any memorable moments from the season?

Erickson:  There’s been a couple, the first Phoenix race we did in the spring was a really good race, and one I’ll always remember. Sonoma as well, we qualified 10th, but there were 30 cars in that race, and the whole top 10 was filled with Xfinity, Truck and Cup drivers, that was a tough race, and we got seventh out of it. That was a pretty cool race for us, it was NASCAR weekend, and a road course, which are pretty tough in my opinion, I think they are tougher than ovals. Lastly, Madera as well. We won a championship there in late models back in 2020, we’ve had a lot of success there. I was pretty confident going into that race that we’d put on a good show, and we did, we started sixth, got up to third, and finished fourth.

About the author

Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently covers the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He currently is studying for a Mass Communication degree at Lindenwood University

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