During the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend, Brad Perez had to navigate a unique set of emotions.
The 25-year-old from Hollywood, Florida, of course had to complete his job as a tire specialist for the Rackley W.A.R. team and driver Matt DiBenedetto’s No. 25 Chevrolet Silverado. He also had to ask off work ahead of the following weekend at Circuit of The Americas, when the series would head to Austin, Texas.
Perez early that morning had learned that he, himself would be racing against DiBenedetto at COTA.
“I was (in Atlanta) doing my tires and freaking out, trying to keep calm,” Perez told NASCAR.com with a laugh. “I’m like, ‘Sorry, if I see the 25 truck (on the track at COTA), I won’t touch it!’ “
On March 24, the Monday after the Atlanta race and five days before COTA, Perez and Reaume Brothers Racing announced the driver would make his Truck Series debut in Austin. The announcement came just one week after Perez began searching for partners to help fund his entry for the team.
Perez, who has made a name for himself in the racing community by competing in Go Karts, Spec Miatas, Legend Cars and the ARCA Menards Series as well as on the iRacing platform, first learned of this opportunity on Sunday, March 13. He was in Fredericksburg, Virginia, helping ARCA driver Willie Mullins prepare a car for the East Series race at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway when Perez received a phone call from good friend and current Truck Series driver Will Rodgers.
Rodgers informed Perez that RBR owner Josh Reaume wanted to meet to discuss an opportunity at COTA. Mullins understood when Perez explained why he needed to drive back to North Carolina immediately.
my reac exactly
– bread perez (@bradxperez) March 22, 2022
After his meeting with Reaume the next day, Perez went into scramble mode trying to find partners. He did not need to search nearly as hard as he thought he would to get GreenTech Energy, Kimberly Kirven and Apex Coffee, among others, on board.
Perez works as a driving instructor at the BMW Performance Center in Greer, South Carolina. That’s where he met Kirven, a real estate agent who recently rode with Perez on a hot lap at the driving school.
“I didn’t even have her phone number; we knew each other through Instagram,” Perez explained. “I asked her who she knew in Austin, and she goes, ‘No, I’ll do it!’ “
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Rich Lawson of GreenTech knew Perez through an iRacing sponsorship deal and wanted to help with the driver’s COTA efforts. The partnership with Apex Coffee was the result of a connection Perez made when he was trying to fund his ARCA Menards Series entry at Watkins Glen International last year. Victory SIM and The Mohawk Foundation also joined.
Perez said the final “yes” on his partnerships arrived the morning of that Atlanta race.
That so many were quick to jump in and help fund Perez’s Truck Series debut is no surprise given his embedded status in racing. On top of his job at BMW, Perez helps Mullins whenever he can. He also volunteers at fellow South Floridian Josh Williams’ shop in Concord, North Carolina. Josh Williams Motorsports, of course, was the team that gave Perez his first ARCA Menards start last year at The Glen. Perez finished 24th after dealing with a brake issue.
Perez, whose aspirations always revolved around racing even when he was working jobs that had nothing to do with motorsports, was overcome with emotion after that ARCA race.
“All the things that went wrong don’t matter, because all my family’s here, all my friends are here,” he told ARCARacing.com at the time. “A lot of people work seriously hard to be able to give me my dream. A lot of people built their businesses up — these are their babies — and they did not have to do this. I just hope I did them proud. I got to do the coolest thing in the world, and I hope I get to do it again.”
He does get to do it again, and he will do it in one of NASCAR’s three national series driving a No. 43 Silverado.
Perez figures his experience at COTA will be similar, at least emotionally.
“At the end of the day I like to sit in bed and reflect on the day,” Perez said, “but I’ve been getting home at midnight or 2 a.m. this whole week, so I haven’t really had time to reflect. I feel like when the national anthem is on, and I’m standing next to the truck, I feel like that’s probably when it’s going to hit me.
“My parents are going to be there. It’s a big event. It’s COTA. It’s the freaking United States Grand Prix track. It’s super cool. I feel like I’m not going to really grasp it until then.”