He’s been a member of the NASCAR garage for the past few years, but now it’s in a dream-come-true position to get off pit road and go racing.
Confirming the news exclusively to TobyChristie.com, Florida’s Brad Perez will make his long-anticipated ARCA Menards Series debut with Josh Williams Motorsports, piloting a No. 60 Chevrolet.
After failing to put together a deal for a road course race in 2020, longtime friend Josh Williams gave Perez an offer he couldn’t refuse. Come up with the cash, and the ride was his for a race in 2021. After seeing his potential ride at the shop, Perez worked tirelessly to find an appropriate backer to fund the effort.
The 24-year-old driver had shared his aspirations for a start at Watkins Glen on social media, but a financial backer had to pull out of the deal for undisclosed reasons. Sharing the struggle later on social media, Perez said he was at a “super low” point at the time because of the hard work behind the scenes to get the deal finished.
hey yall, some have been asking me about my racing plans and i couldnt give an answer. I had a great opportunity to race the Watkins Glen ARCA race but had a backer pull out.
if your business is interested in a partnership, im sure we can create a strat to maximize your return pic.twitter.com/FRbDoRTcxa
— bread perez (@bradxperez) June 29, 2021
The tweet Perez put out last month on Twitter sent his nearly 3,500 followers in a full-fledged effort to get him the funding he needed. Perez said that the tweet he initially thought he’d regret putting out was one of the main reasons why the Watkins Glen debut is happening. The allegiance of friends and followers showed that the driver is marketable, not to mention having the backing of his thousands of supporters.
“I absolutely hate asking for things,” Perez explained. “This whole situation, this entire debacle of trying to get this race to happen, I had to ask favors from people to who I never wanted to ask a single favor. They were generous enough even just to hear me out, and seeing that the fans were so much behind it, that’s what kind of made it happen. I feel like the easier sell to a company, any company, is that you’re going to get almost the blind support for everyone, and the NASCAR community provided that. I wish there were a way to thank all of them.”
Later sharing that he was roughly 15% short of making the end goal for the debut, Rackley Roofing stepped up to fully sponsor the entry for Perez. The connection to driver and sponsor is unique, with Perez serving as a Tire Specialist for Martins Motorsports in the Xfinity Series and Rackley W.A.R. in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“It was one of those things where I didn’t want to ask an employer for sponsorship,” Perez explained. “I gave them my piece and proposed something that I felt like would help their value. It’s not just a favor; it’s something that I feel like would give both parties massive amounts of credibility. So I proposed it, and they agreed.”
The paint scheme was designed by Jon Palmieri, also known as Speed Visions on social media. The paint scheme incorporates two mentors for the Hollywood, Florida driver.
“The design starts with the number,” Palmieri told TobyChristie.com. ” It pays homage to Josh Williams’ #6, which funny enough pays homage to Mark Martin’s #6. Brad really wanted the car to reflect the attitude of the number, so we worked through several different concepts incorporating those same barbs, sharp edges, and shapes until we landed on our final scheme.”
As a gesture towards the fans for their unwavering support in getting the deal done, a “THANKS EVERYONE” decal will be added to the B-post of the car.
It’s a special connection for Palmieri to get this specific car on track, being a longtime friend of Perez’s.
“Brad’s been such a great friend over the years, and it goes beyond words. I’m genuinely thrilled and honored I get to be the guy to completely design his car. It’s not just any driver behind the wheel. It’s one of my closest friends. So that’s a deeply special honor and adds a lot of pressure to get it right. One of my closest friends racing a car I designed at the place I watched my first NASCAR race at in my home state is just beyond special.”
It’ll be the first time Perez visits the Watkins Glen road course as a driver in a heavy stock car and not his iconic Miata. Perez has been an active participant in the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) racing Spec Miata. The Series allows Miatas from the 1990-2005 timeframe, allowing Perez to compete in his own No. 38 entry.
He’s not the first Miata driver from the series to jump into a stock car, but he knows some who have included Preston Pardus. Both have been good friends for years, even sharing the track in Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).
“I guess the main thing is racecraft,” Perez said. In spec Miata, you’re racing against 70 people on track with different levels of skill, horsepower, equipment, and you have to make the best of it. The amount of opportunities that you have to create yourself, whether you’re racing for 15th or 37th – I think it applies the same to stock cars. If you’re able to finagle your way into the field with your racecraft, no matter who you’re up against – you’re going to make the best of it.”
It’s fitting that Perez’s ARCA Menards Series debut comes from the shop of Josh Williams Motorsports, as the namesake to the team and their new driver have been longtime friends. Calling Williams “an honest to god inspiration,” Perez first met Williams through NASCAR Xfinity driver Ryan Vargas. Perez moved to North Carolina after getting the chance to race a US Legends car but had to find work behind the scenes. So he took a job at JD Motorsports to start a brand-new life in NASCAR’s home state.
“If it wasn’t for that job, I wouldn’t have met Josh Williams,” Perez explained. “When you’re on the small team side, everyone around you becomes almost like a family. Anytime we needed anything, whether it was fabrication, or parts or something – Josh Williams would literally come over and himself and help you out.”
Perez saw similarities between himself and Josh, both Florida drivers, and having to grind their way into the sport after not coming from a background of abundant funding.
Continuing to lend a hand to the new North Carolina resident, Williams introduced Perez to Danny Johnson to test a late model. Johnson, who was the crew chief for Martins Motorsports in 2020, eventually helped lead Perez to his current job as a tire specialist at Martins, servicing the No. 44 Camaro of Tommy Joe Martins.
The “crazy butterfly effect” of Perez’s life now unfolds into an ARCA start with Williams’ own ARCA team.
The biggest hurdle Perez will have to overcome for himself will be comfort, as he hasn’t been behind the wheel on a race track competitively since earlier this year at Charlotte in his Miata. At the time, Perez swept the weekend at the Charlotte Roval. He spends time at the BMW Performance Driving School as an instructor in South Carolina, and wheels BMWs during his lunch period.
As Perez explained, “I’m going to be racing against a bunch of people who have driven a stock car the last four weeks. That is huge. I think being in the seat for a good amount of time, no matter what course you’re driving, is a benefit.”
For additional support and knowledge, Perez has leaned on several drivers with a solid grasp on the skill of not just oval-based racing but road course racing. Will Rodgers, Scott Heckert, and Cody Ware are among those Perez has chatted about the track and how to attack it.
“I’ve been picking the brains of a lot of awesome road racers; I’m pretty blessed to be in this situation where I have the accessibility of a bunch of amazing road racers just from the text of a phone,” Perez explained.
“It’s honestly going to be a battle of experience, and they have the experience over me, so I just have to get accustomed to the car really quickly, get comfortable with the car, be able to get to the limit as quickly as possible and make something happen.”
With the car he has and the knowledge shared, Perez is confident a top 10 finish is within range, but a top-five finish would cap off what is sure to be an “amazing day” for the Florida driver.
Fans can see Perez make his ARCA Menards Series debut during the Clean Harbors 100 at the Glen on Friday, August 6th at 6 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1 and the FOX Sports app.