Welcome to the world of drag racing’s father and son duo of Ron and Brian Hope.
Immediately, the name Ron Hope stands out. A legend in the drag racing community, Ron pilots the famous “Rat Trap” Nitro Altered that can be seen at motorsports events around the world. From local drag strips to major international festivals, Ron is drag racing royalty. He has piloted a Nitro Altered for more than four decades and has raced in other classes even longer.
Now it is son Brian’s opportunity to step into the spotlight.
A longtime crewman on his father’s nitro-burning nostalgia machine, Brian recently got the itch to get behind the wheel himself. After obtaining his license during the offseason and getting his own seat time in his dad’s legendary ride, Brian finally got the opportunity to get behind the wheel in actual competition at the IHRA Nitro Jam Southern Nationals earlier this month. Driving another legendary machine in the “Pure Hell” Altered, Brian made quite a splash when he found himself racing against non-other than his own father in the first round of eliminations.
And, as you might have guessed, the son got the better of the father.
“I would love to tell you that it was just another car in the other lane, but it wasn’t. I was going up there to win,” Brian said. “I told dad at the trailer that I was only bringing back the steering wheel if that is what it took to get to the finish line first. Let me tell you, that was a race that I will remember forever. I mean, who gets to race their dad in two of the most famous Fuel Altereds there are?”
Brian beat his father in the first round of eliminations at the Florida event and went on to finish runner-up in the class. In the Hope family showdown, Brian produced the better light – a .123 reaction time to Ron’s .252 – and kept in it for a 6.586-second pass at 210.08 mph. Ron fell in line just behind with a 6.845 at 193.34.
While it was definitely an exciting moment for Brian, he admits it was the moments right after the run that made it all the more memorable.
“If you guys could have seen us on the return road, we were like two little kids with all of the high fives and huge hugs,” Brian said. “It was a crazy moment, but one that didn’t last long because we had to get back and get things ready for the next round. Still, for those few moments there was nothing better in the world."
So at the end of the day, what was it like to beat such a legendary figure who also happens to be your father?
“When Fuel Altereds had their heyday, I wasn’t even born yet. So getting to relive what guys like dad, Rich Guasco, Randy Bradford, Dave Hough and others got to do in the 60s and 70s is so awesome,” Brian said. “Now, getting to race against some of those same guys, especially my father, is unbelievable. Ron Hope is the greatest role model anyone could ever ask for. I am thankful he is my dad.”
And the best part about this rivalry? It isn’t over just yet.
Brian will return to the seat of the “Pure Hell” Nitro Altered this weekend at the IHRA Nitro Jam Palm Beach Nationals at Palm Beach International Raceway against a field of six of the most exciting Nitro Altereds on the planet. His competition will include another generational driver in Kyle Hough, who pilots the “Nanook” once driven by his father and grandfather, the “Bullet Bob” machine driven by most recent race winner Don Blackshear, former IHRA Nitro Altered champion Ron Maroney in “Blind Faith,” former Nitro Funny Car champion Terry Haddock in “Nasty Benjamin” and, of course, his dad.
“I can’t wait to get back out there,” Brian said. “I really enjoy both aspects of what I do with the driving and the tuning, but for right now, I am very happy with getting to do both jobs.”
CLICK HERE for tickets to the IHRA Nitro Jam Palm Beach Nationals May 2-3 at Palm Beach International Raceway