The Bradford's Drag Racing Family

The Bradford's Drag Racing Family
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The Bradford's, 
Drag Racing Family

 By Dave Brackett 

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Dave

Brad 1aThe Bradford family has been involved in drag racing since 1946. Brad Bradford, born in 1927, was racing roadsters at the dry lakes up into the mid 1950's. Brad also ran the roadster in the late 1940's and early 1950's at the Santa Ana airport drags. The old roadster had a 3/8 by 3/8 flat head motor with three two barrel carbs run on 30% nitro. In those days Brad was a member of the San Pedro Rod Riders.

Randy Bradford, Brad's son, started drag racing in 1963, running his 1940 Ford truck, with 327 Chevy power, at local tracks in Southern California. I met them when I built headers for this truck, at that time I was working at Anaheim Speed Engineers. This was a street truck Randy cruised with in the evenings.

Brad 2aLater that year, they started their first true drag racer, a 1955 Chevy C Gasser.  At this time, Brad and Randy had a crankshaft grinding company in Anaheim, California. The 55' had a 327 Chevy, dual four barrel cross ram manafold, Mallory Magneto, and a 5.57 to 1 rear end. They brought their 55 Chevy to me for a face lift. They had been running well at the local drag strips, but needed an edge. I cut off the front of the chassis at the firewall, and built a new front clip. I added a tubular front axle with early Ford spindles, and mounted that with front transversal spring and tubular wishbones. I remounted the motor, mounted the radiator, attached the front sheetmetal, and built some new headers and a roll cage. The car was much lighter and ran better, consistantly running in the low 12's around 116 mph, and winning a Gold Cup race at Fontana Raceway.

Around this time, Brad and Randy bought an auto parts store and auto machine shop. They moved out of their old industrial building and I moved in and opened my first business, Brackett Speed Products. They continued to race the 55 Chevy into 1966, and I went into the army in late 1966.

Brad 3aWanting more, in 1966, they went into Top Fuel Altered racing. They purchased a car from Lee LeBaron, a 1937 Fiat bodied altered. They built an injected 427 Chevy running on alcohol, later running 96% nitro. They consistantly ran in the 8.60's in the high 170's mph.The car ran well, but in late 1967 a 6.71 blower was added, giving the car much more power. With Randy driving and Brad turning wrenches, the car was a success. They ran 7.40's around 204 mph. While Randy was gone in the Army, Frank Harris drove the car.
Brad 4aIn March of 1970, Randy returned from the Army and again drove. They toured the country with fuel altereds like, Pure Heaven, Rat Trap, Leroy Chatterton, and Willie Borsch. In 1969, the motor was changed to a 392 Chrysler, they got better tires and a slipper clutch. Their best time was 7.0 seconds at 209 mph. 

By 1972, Randy and Brad started to build a funny car, but that venture was never finished. Randy had gotten married and family was more important. In 1999, having successfully raised his family, Randy with Brad, returned to drag racing. The new car, finished in October of 2000, was a copy of the old Fiat fuel altered, with modern safety specs. Their first race was in 2000 at the California Hot Rod Reunion in Famosa. 

Brad 6aI became reaquainted with Randy and Brad in late 2000, and have helped on their pit crew at many races. The new car appears at nostalgia races Brad 5aaround the country and Canada, especially the California Hot Rod Reunion. I had the pleasure to be with the car when it was featured with other fuel altereds at the 50th anniversary of the NHRA Nationals at Indianapolis in 2004. Fuel Altereds are known for wild rides, check out the photo of Randy up in the air, just before the lights at Bakersfield, and he did not hit the wall.

Randy and dad Brad, who at 82 is one of the best wrenches I know, continue to race the car, however financial constraints limit their appearances. I still help on the pit crew as my time allows. It is so much fun to have been part of Top Fuel Altered drag racing, and to continue that endeavor today.  Thanks Brad and Randy for your contributions to drag racing . Check out their website: 

www.bradfordsfiat.com