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A Visit with Dave Brant
06-12-08
Biography by Dave Brant and Richard Parks,
photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz

richardparks roger

Richard & Roger

   Dave Brant is a member of the Gear Grinders car club, which was formed in the early 1940's and has been a constant supporter of land speed racing and affiliated with the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).  His father was Carroll Brant, who raced under the name of Bud Carroll and came from Corona, Indiana.  During the Great Depression of the late 1920's and throughout the entire decade of the 1930's, Carroll traveled from place to place, looking to make a living in those hardscrabble times.  He only had an 8th grade education, but he possessed a strong will and survived by taking jobs such as garage mechanic, moonshine runner, big car racer and later as a midget driver.  He finally made it all the way to Los Angeles, California, a growing metropolis with opportunity for all.  "He was not a driver of note, but had fun, earned a few dollars and learned more job skills.  I do not have any history or dates as all his albums were destroyed by neglect many years

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 Dave’s father, Carroll Brant (aka Bud Carroll), in a "Big Car “ ( sprinter of yesteryear) at the Oakland Mile in the early 1930's.

ago.  He did race the Oakland mile, Legion Ascot, Balboa Stadium, Southern Ascot, Culver City (jalopies), Saugus, San Bernardino and a few other tracks during the 1930's thru 1953," Dave told me.  Carroll Brant went into the Navy in 1939 and became a Radioman on a Destroyer, and just missed being in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 by two days due to redeployment.  After his service in WWII ended in 1942, he returned to Los Angeles and went to work for Harvel Aircraft and he resumed his circle track racing.   

  In 1942, Carroll married Helen Rodney who he had met at Harvel and who was working as a secretary there.  Their first son, David Brant, was born on December 25, 1942, in Pasadena, California and the family moved to Monrovia, California where Carroll went to work for the police department in Monrovia as a patrolman.  Carroll later opened up his own business in Monrovia as a garage owner calling it R&B Automotive.  He later started a die casting manufacturing company in Bellflower, California.  Carroll and Helen divorced and by 1953, he had left racing.  "My mother kept custody of me and we moved often as times were tough financially.  Mom worked for Harry Curland Catering as a secretary.  Curland catered Hollywood Park and Santa Anita Horse tracks.  I believe that stint went from 1949 to 1957," Dave continued.  Helen Rodney Brant met and married Gil Smith, her second husband.  Gil was a Sport Fisherman who owned a fishing boat, Sea Horse, out of Newport Beach.  Helen learned to fish and came to love fishing.  She became the secretary of the Balboa Angling Club about 1961 and retired from that position in 1997.  David remembers that his family moved often.  He grew up in Newport Beach, California, and then they moved to Pomona, California.  He went to numerous schools and finished junior high at Marshall in Pomona, graduating from Ganesha High School in that same town.

   "I took metal shop for two years in Jr high and machine shop for two years in high school.  I had a short stint in the auto shop, but I was too argumentative and I kept pointing out the flaws in the instructor's theory, so I didn't finish auto shop.  I had a year of mechanical drawing and a shop math class as an auto shop replacement class.  I joined the "T" Timers car club in Pomona for a year and we had a roadster that we were working on for the drags that never got finished, but the car got worked on a lot.  Then I started a club in 1958, called the Formulae that went in the direction of Sports car racing with a Formula III car with a Norton Manx motor, but we only made it to the races once and it wouldn't run.  I helped a few other kids build their cars and do what I could to keep them going.  There may still be a few cars parked in Pomona without spare tires and less gas then when they parked it," Dave wryly remarked.  He built custom bicycles, pumped gas, mowed lawns and did other jobs to support himself.  Then Jim Chaffee asked him to crew on his Devin/Chevy sports car and he was hooked on racing.   Dave also built one-off balsa wood car models and entered them in the Los Angeles County Fair, winning a few first places from 1957 through 1959.   He kicked around a year after high school, but couldn't find enough jobs to support himself and joined the Navy in 1962.  The Navy crammed a Nuclear Power education into his skull and shipped him off to Viet Nam to serve three tours of duty, including an around the world tour with all-nuclear vessels and then a tour of the Mediterranean cruise.  Dave did see much of the world while in the Navy.  He was discharged in 1967.

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Dave Brant in the midget, 1967.

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Dave on the BSA at Lodi,Ca. as an amature AMA rider 1970

   Dave and his son have raced from Reno, Costa Mesa, Woodland, but now they just dabble in the hotrod and land speed racing areas, because they enjoy the new challenges.  "John Wright, Randy Speranza and I have been running a car that I designed and fabricated, with advice and help from Buck Smith, Fred Carrillo, Stu Hilborn, Chuck Daigh, Ron Wood and others.  The car evolved from a lakester to a streamliner and was the

   "After my discharge I called Jim Chaffee to see if he was still racing and he put me to work at a Datsun shop he was managing, as a line mechanic.  I still helped him with his Devin but soon bought a V-8 60 powered midget.  I raced it for a year at Ascot Park and Irwindale, and then blew up the motor at Irwindale.  But it got to be a bit too much for my budget, so I bought a 1968 BSA 650 and went motorcycle racing.  I raced at Perris, Huntington Beach, Saddleback Park, Lodi, Stockton, Reno and a few other tracks in AMA district 36 and 37.  I earned my Expert license in two years and raced in competition until 1975.  I raced mostly in TT, which is a closed course with one right turn and Flattrack," Dave said.  He married Joann Johnston and moved from Pomona to Reno, Nevada where he wrenched for Merle Brennan on his sports car at Sears Point, Reno, and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and became the service manager at Brennan's dealership.  He left Brennan Automotive and opened his own Motorcycle shop in 1975 when Merle sold out.  Dave was now interested in Speedway motorcycles, and though he couldn't ride them well, he could make them run real fast.  "I got my son, Scott, interested in Speedway motorcycle racing at the age of 8 and he became the National Speedway Bike Champion in 2003.  Scott rode at Auburn, Victorville, Costa Mesa, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino and other tracks.  I have migrated from speedway motorcycle importer to hot rod fabrication to race car fabrication," Brant added. 

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Dave Brant's son Scott early 2000's on a GM speedway bike.

1998 SCTA points Champion at El Mirage.  It was the first car upside down at Bonneville in 1999, three such cars including Flatfire.   Hopefully the car will be the first streamliner over 200 miles per hour (mph) in the K/F class, which is only 30 cubic inches.  We have gone from 100.9 mph in 1994 to 198.6 mph in 2007 at Bonneville.  Our crew consists of my son David and my grandson David.  Bob Sights likes to refer to us as DI, DII and DIII. C' Ya on the Salt," Dave concluded.

Gone Racin' is at RNPARKS1@JUNO.COM

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