MACON – Cory Bruns has no trouble doing to his older brother what he would do to anybody else to get another feature win in the winged sprint car.
On that last run to the checkered flag, A.J. Bruns better watch out.
“If he was on the high side, I would pinch him into the wall,’’ Cory said, without a hint of regret. So much for brotherly love.
It’s just the kind of competitive racing between the two brothers that extends down the pack as MOWA – the Midwest Open Wheel Association – roars through Illinois Sprint Week with four races in four nights, including a stop at Macon Speedway tonight.
Of course, the Bruns brothers, of Lincoln, realize the rules set for them by their father, Roger, who first began racing sprint cars in 1973.
“The only thing he says is race each other clean,’’ Cory said. “Don’t tear stuff up. It costs too much.’’
Roger Bruns first began racing sprint cars after a season in a dragster.
“That wasn’t enough excitement for him,’’ A.J. Bruns said. “He bought a sprint car the next season.’’
Understandably, the Bruns boys followed their dad to sprint cars. The 37-year-old A.J. Bruns first raced mini-sprints before buying his first sprint car 15 years ago. He developed into a perennial title contender in the MOWA Series, which races in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa and Indiana. Last season, he finished third.
Two wrecks this season and a transition to a new car left him in seventh heading into the biggest week in the MOWA season. Meanwhile, Cory climbed to fifth in the standings.
The older brother can’t look in the rear view mirror, because sprint cars don’t have them, but he nevertheless might be looking over this shoulder at the end of the season.
“I’m worrying about him passing me in points,’’ said A.J. Bruns, who works during the day as a jet aircraft mechanic in Springfield.
After graduating from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Cory Bruns, 29, returned home and eventually built a roofing and remodeling business while also selling steel. In his down time, he found himself following his family to the race track.
“For a long time, it was really difficult while trying to keep up to him and learning from him,’’ Cory Bruns said. “He’s very particular on how he does things. I tried to mimic what he did in a race. Finally, it started clicking the last four or five years.
“Now I’m trying to whip him.’’
Of course, brotherly love is stronger than a trip to victory lane. When A.J. Bruns thrashed to get that new car ready to race, Cory Bruns was there in the shop.
“I spent the entire week helping him get it done,’’ Cory Bruns said. “I want to finish in front of him. I just want us both to run up front and beat everybody else.
“If we run one-two, it’s no big deal. But I’d rather be in first.’’
They travel together with two trailers and their father, who is the not-so-secret weapon. Roger Bruns knows how to set up the cars.
“We can’t go anywhere without him,’’ Cory Bruns said. “He knows how to read the race track just about anywhere we need to go.’’
While most local drivers race late models, street stocks or modifieds, the Bruns family prefers the 850-horsepower sprint car. Unlike a 3,500-pound late model, the 1,400-pound sprint car is a quick, powerful beast with an unbelievable power-to-weight ratio.
“Once you do it, you fall in love with it,’’ A.J. Bruns said. “It’s hard to quit, like a bad habit.’’