NEW YORK, NY :: When the 2010 season came to a close at Motor Mile Speedway, one team stood above them all. However, within a few weeks, the championship team was no more.
Kiker Motorsports and driver Brandon Dean rallied to win the championship against one of the toughest fields in Late Model Stock Car racing at the Fairlawn, VA track. By the time the awards were handed out, Dean was without a ride and team owner Travis Kiker had another shoe filling his seat. It appeared that the marriage that had landed both their first championship was over and there was no going back.
Kiker Motorsports would go on to field cars for veteran Late Model Stock Car driver and chassis builder Frank Deiny and win only three races in two full seasons of competition. Meanwhile, Dean would make a handful of starts; one in his own family owned equipment and another for another team but had no success. Dean would move to New York City to take a job as an engineer, leaving the short track racing world behind. Kiker would soldier through two tough seasons while both were longing to resurrect the success they once had.
As the 2012 season began to come to a close, Deiny and Kiker would part ways just as Dean was in a position to reenter the racing world. The two got back together and decided to compete in the final two Late Model Stock Car races of the 2012 season at Myrtle Beach Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park. The Myrtle Beach outing proved to be a disaster as they struggled to find speed and eventually missed the prestigious Myrtle Beach 400.
After completely going through the Kiker Motorsports “5 ride”, after being embarrassed with the results at Myrtle Beach, the team decided that they would go ahead and try their hand at Southern National in the Thanksgiving Classic. While practice and qualifying didn’t play in their favor, they were hoping that in the race the changes they made beforehand would get them in a position to have a good run. He would have a solid run and would have easily had a top five finish if not for a late race incident.
As the off-season dawned, Dean was again left without a ride and Kiker was left with a decision to make on who would fill the Kiker Motorsports seat. Kiker’s phone would ring off the hook as drivers were lining up for a chance to get behind the wheel of his cars.
“My phone has ringed 30,000 times,” laughed Kiker. “You wouldn’t believe the drivers who have called to try and get in this ride. I am humbled by the amount of people that want to work with us.”
Kiker already had in mind who he wanted to drive the car but the details had to be worked out.
“I knew that I wanted Brandon to drive for me this year. He’s as good as anyone I’ve worked with and I wanted him back but we had to work out all the details and make this work for both of us.”
Brandon was busy working his nine to five job and making ends meet from his New York home but, after a couple of rides to end the season, he was hungrier than ever to keep racing.
“We ended on such a good note,” said Dean, speaking of his races with Kiker in 2010. “To come back is a privilege. It’s sucks to sit out and coming back at the end of last year only made it worse. I knew that if things would come together we could try this thing again.”
Dean said that he had no reservations at all about getting back with Kiker despite the way things ended and him being left without a ride.
“He called and asked and I was like ‘heck yeah’. No hesitation at all, I mean 2010 was a surprise the way it all happened from start to finish. We just had communication problems even though it didn’t seem to show in on track performance. Once I knew we could work that out I was all in.”
Dean wasn’t even hesitant when he thought about how the final two races of 2012 played out.
“The car wasn’t prepared at all. There were a lot of problems with the car and a lot of issues that we had to overcome. I know I can get the job done and I think I did as the race at Southern National played out. I don’t think we could have won but we had made the most of the situation. We could have finished top five.”
“We didn’t have the car right and we weren’t prepared like you need to be to compete against the guys that run these cars,” noted Kiker. “Brandon took chicken crap and made chicken salad at Southern National.”
As the two go forward into 2013, excitement is in the air.
“I’m excited,” continued Kiker. “Brandon and I have always got along. We’ve always worked together well with him and his dad (Bryan) and I don’t think anything has changed there. We have changed everything else.”
“I’m ready,” said Dean. “You don’t know how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone. I know it’s cliché but it’s the truth. I don’t want to be out of the seat again and Travis is doing everything he can to make sure that we have the best equipment possible to contend with (Lee) Pulliam and Philip (Morris).”
Dean and Kiker will utilize brand new Marlowe Racing Chassis from Performancenter Racing Warehouse with Late Model Stock Car veteran Greg Marlowe helping to call the shots. Marlowe will oversee the setups and changes for the car this season.
“I don’t have to worry about making the calls,” continued Dean. “I’m excited to work with someone who’s as big in this sport as Greg Marlowe. He’s a legend in Late Model racing and to have him making the calls will make my job as a driver much easier. I’ve always wanted to run a Marlowe car. He’s had the best cars for several years and it’s going to be a ton better for us.”
Dean also says that he’s not worried about having been out of the seat of a car for the better part of two seasons.
“I’m as good as I’m ever going to be. My maturity level is so far above where it was when we last raced. The driving part is like riding a bike. The only thing I’ve got to work on is getting used to the new changes in the setups and rule changes but we’ve assembled a great team for that.”
In addition to the chassis changes for the 2013 season, Kiker has also changed engine builders with power coming from Rahmoc Racing Engines. Rahmoc built engines for 2012 Late Model Stock Car division Motor Mile Speedway track champion Josh Berry, a driver that Kiker’s cars chased all season. Kiker is excited about the changes and hopes it all pays off.
“We changed everything,” noted Kiker. “New cars, new engines, new driver… the only thing is the same is the owner and all he does is pay the bills, so I don’t think he has anything to do with it.”
Look for Kiker and Dean to be contenders this season as they are planning to run the full Motor Mile Speedway schedule as well as all the “Dirty Dozen” races, including the full schedule at Southern National Motorsports Park and select races at South Boston Speedway and other venues.