For Brad and Nina Gusler, NMRA Truck & Lightning racing is a way of life
By Steve Turner
When you love performance vehicles, it only makes sense that you want to be around them as much as possible. In the case of Brad Gusler of BG Racing, it was seeing the Lightning concept that started him down the path to starting his own business and racing his truck.
“I loved the look of the Lightning when I saw the first concept pictures back in late 1998. The truck having 360hp, supercharged motor from the factory was a plus too,” Brad said. “I got my first brand-new Lightning in 2000 and the modifications started along with hitting the local eighth-mile tracks.”
As you might imagine, the mods kept coming, as did the desire to go faster and compete at a higher level. Once Brad realized how much fun it was to race his Kenne Bell Twin Screw-blown, 1,000hp Lighting, those local tracks just wouldn’t be enough to contain him. Fortunately, there was a great place where he could showcase his racing, his Lightning, and his business—the NMRA Ford Nationals Series.
“I always enjoyed keeping up with the Truck & Lightning class on the Internet and in magazines. I just wasn’t at a point in my life where I could afford to take the time to race a full series,” Brad explained. “In 2012, I decided to start racing the full series in the class.”
Racing is certainly great fun. It can also be an excellent venue to promote your performance automotive company. However, racing is not cheap. There is an adage that says it is a good way to turn a lot of money into a little money. In short, few people do it professionally and profit from it. To race and at least break even, you really need sponsorship to run a whole series.
Fortunately for Brad, he is well connected with the tuning experts at SCT Performance. Not only does he sell SCT products, but he also uses them on his racing trucks. It is truly symbiotic relationship, and one that Brad certainly appreciates.
With the support of SCT, Brad has pursued racing for his Lightning with varying levels of success for three full seasons. This season hasn’t quite gone the way he would have liked it, but that doesn’t mean that BG Racing doesn’t have a player in the Truck & Lightning class. Quite to the contrary, the team happens to have a racer leading the championship chase headed into the World Finals in Bowling Green.
Along the way, his wife, Nina, was watching Brad have all the fun. She got the itch to race a truck of her own. “Watching Brad I learned a lot about bracket racing and was excited when I had the opportunity to start racing,” Nina said.
Well, she got a truck, but it wasn’t just any truck. No, Nina races a truly special pickup with a unique combination of engine and power adder—an F-150 with a Coyote Aluminator and a ProCharger P-1SC. “We both love the idea of a performance truck. We thought it would be exciting to see the transformation and horsepower gains from each bolt-on,” Brad explained. “What better platform truck than to start building from than a Coyote-powered new F-150?”
When this truck was undergoing its transformation, Nina also raced her street Lighting so she could stay in the championship mix. Certainly the two trucks have different personalities, as she interchanges the torquey hit of the positive-displacement-blown 5.4 for the high-winding rush of the centrifugally supercharged Coyote.
“My new Coyote truck is completely different from my street Lightning, but equally fun to race,” Nina said.
Like her husband, Nina has the support of a major sponsor in the form of wheel manufacturer Race Star Industries. As you might imagine, BG Racing sells plenty of these wheels, but Race Star also keeps Nina on the NMRA circuit.
“Race Star has been a huge supporter of me this year,” she said. “They really stay involved with my racing and come out to support me at most events.”
Now racing in the same class definitely has a downside. If you have ever argued with your spouse over who is going to do the dishes or who is going to take out the trash, imagine what might happen if you had to drag race them at a national event! Well, this racing couple seems to have a good handle on the situation. Both want to win a championship, but they both support the other’s success.
“I want her to win worse than I want to win myself, but I don’t have it in me to give it to her anymore than she would want me to,” Brad said.
“It’s not the best situation, but if I’m going to lose to someone I’d want it be Brad,” Nina added.
Love is thicker than racing it seems, and either way a BG Racing truck wins. And, there’s a chance that Nina might just make the couple’s goal a reality in Bowling Green. She is atop the points with 2090 and leads her nearest competitors—James Streamer and Randy Conway—by a scant 5 points. It should make for an exciting race weekend. However it ends, we know they will be pulling for each other.