SONOMA, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: Brad Perez, driver of the #43 I Set My Friends on Fire Toyota, waits on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series DoorDash 250 at Sonoma Raceway on June 11, 2022 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) | Getty Images
(Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Brad Perez targets Hickory Motor Speedway’s Bobby Isaac Memorial for Late Model debut

Brad Perez doesn’t like to do things the easy way.

Instead, he prefers to jump straight into the deep end.

He did just that when he made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut earlier this year at Circuit of the Americas, and again when he debuted in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 20.

“My entire career is me just tossing myself in the deep end and hopefully something good happens,” Perez said with a laugh.

With that in mind, it makes sense that Perez would jump into the deep end one more time as he prepares to make his Late Model Stock Car debut this Saturday night during one of Hickory Motor Speedway’s most historic events, the Bobby Isaac Memorial.

The event, held in honor of the late 1970 NASCAR Cup Series champion, is one of Hickory’s longest standing events. It typically draws a strong field of cars and a big crowd.

“At the start of last season, I was really trying to do some Late Model racing,” Perez said. “Obviously I had a lot going on with the NASCAR stuff, and I really wanted to see where that could go. I was not really in a position where I could find much money for anything, and I figured the hardest possible sell was something that’s not on national TV.”

The opportunity to make his Late Model Stock Car debut recently materialized when he was contacted by Danny Johnson, who along with Derek Peebles have partnered with the Findley family to field a Late Model Stock Car.

That opened the door for Perez to make his debut at Hickory.

“He was like, ‘Man, it would be a really good deal if you could come up with some money to do the Bobby Isaac and maybe the Fall Brawl’ and I was like, ‘I’m in,’” Perez said. “I’m a little nervous, but I’m excited either way.”

Perez is a popular face in the NASCAR garage, where he has worked as a tire specialist for a variety of teams. Behind the wheel, Perez has lots of experience on road courses thanks to his time racing a Spec Miata with the Sports Car Club of America.

However, other than a few starts in a Legend Car, Perez has no experience racing on ovals.

He explained that his plan was always to start big by racing road course events in NASCAR before shifting gears to gain experience on ovals in Late Models. His goal is to race on an oval with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or NASCAR Xfinity Series at some point in the future.

“It actually was the plan almost all along,” Perez said. “I didn’t actually have a concrete plan or an idea of how it was going to happen. To be completely honest, selling sponsorship for the national series’ is easier. The same type of money you can run up front in Late Models with is the same type of money you can take to Xfinity.

“I was trying to be able find the partners to give a bigger sell, too, and in turn use those connections to achieve something in local racing. That’s what I’ve always wanted to do. It was tough for me to find any type of money to go local racing, and that was the goal all along. Went to do the big thing, got the connections to do the small thing and now we’re going to do the best we can at the small thing, which is kind of a big thing.”

The Bobby Isaac Memorial is the third event in Hickory Motor Speedway’s inaugural playoffs. Landon Huffman enters the event as the championship leader and holds a 15-point edge on Annabeth Barnes Crum with two nights of racing remaining.

The event will be available live on FloRacing this Saturday night beginning at 7 p.m. ET.