THIS HOT RODDER IS NOT YOUR AVERAGE MILLENNIAL
Brant Inglis knew a long time ago he was born with an old soul. Understand, your typical 17-year old doesn't usually restore a flathead-powered, front-engine dragster, a car likely built before his parents were of driving age.
Inglis turned 26 on October 21, the second day of the 2017 NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion, and to see the smile on his face, there was nowhere else he would have rather been; even if it meant traveling 2,500 miles to participate.
"This is where I belong," Inglis said. Before 2002 I was in a rear engine dragster, I ran Jr. Dragsters. Carbon fiber was all the rage; we got to have this, we’ve got to have a computer. All I wanted to do was put a brake handle in the race car.
"Ever since then, I ran my first pass, actually the first front motor car I ever raced is here, restored - the Royal Canadian owned by Rod Hodges. That’s the first front motor car I ever made a pass in. Ever since then, I’ve been screwed up. I’ve got four of these cars now. Four front motor cars, three with history, one competition car. It’s a bad deal. This stuff's a disease."
Inglis, of Calgary, Alb., was at Auto Club Famoso Raceway to participate in the Cacklefest with the Syndicate Scuderia dragster built Jack Williams, real, a famous Canadian car.
"I got the honor and privilege to be able to help them put the motor back together early this year," Inglis revealed. "And now I’m back out here helping them sort of keep her squared away and sorted out, and keep the history alive."
Inglis knew a long time ago his destiny was to be a time traveler of sorts. He built his first flathead engine and put it in a 1958 Chassis Research Dragster chassis.
"I was the first one to put a running motor in it, first one to drive it down the race track at 25 years old, just like they did back then, we put a nitro flathead down the race track with the same parts they were using," Inglis said.
Inglis could have easily swayed from this lifestyle after a not so pleasant 2016 Cacklefest experience.
"The gory truth. We were still in Canada, I got an email from NHRA saying I wasn’t eligible to be one of the 40 cars in the cackle event," Inglis recalled. "So I emailed NHRA back, I said, ‘You know, I’m coming down, what else can we do besides the cackle?"
"I mean this is Holy Grail, and I’m towing 2,500 miles for this deal’. I got the notice from NHRA, ‘You can do anything except for that, we’re just limited in the 40 cars in the cackle for historical value."
Inglis said fair enough and set out on his journey to Bakersfield. Once he arrived, he settled into the atmosphere.
"I showed up down here, and we fired," Inglis said. "We got the notice by the tech inspector that you couldn’t fire your car in the pits unless you were in a designated area. It was a bit of an uproar. We fired once in the pits with the Red Greth. He took me under his wing. I was tuning nitro on carburetors, which I found out later is a really good way to blow up a flathead."
Despite the issues of last year's event, Inglis was determined not to let one bad experience ruin what he believes is his annual destiny.
"At that point in time, it sucked," Inglis explained. "Wednesday I was ready to go home, turn around and go home, just call it. But you know this event, it’s about the people, not about the cars. I’ll maintain that forever. When I’m in the car, it’s not about me being seen; it’s about people seeing how that car used to be run. So no matter where I can do that, I’m going to keep doing it. You know, we had some words."
Saturday at the CHRR, Inglis said the issues of the past are now there, where they should be.
"Just here a couple of minutes ago I got a personal apology from Greg Sharp for what happened last year," Inglis admitted. "So we’ll have the car back next year, and we’ll have her dialed in and make some real, real good noise."
And hopefully, some of his fellow millennials will take notice. There are times he wants to ask some of them, "Guys, do you understand what you’re missing here?"
"I don’t know where the hell the world went wrong," Inglis said with a solemn look on his face. "There’s some dumbasses out there."