Catching Up With: Former Wissota 100 Sprint Champion and 27-time NOSA Feature Winner Brad Pake
Brad Pake’s sprint car racing career lasted about a decade, but he certainly left his competitive mark during that time.
The Felton, Minn., farmer won 27 NOSA sprint features, won the Wissota 100 multiple times and was a track champion at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo and River Cities Speedway in a sprint career that lasted from 1995-2004.
“The competition is what I liked the most,” said Pake, 51, “and trying to figure out how to make the car go better.”
To put in some perspective how fast Pake was — his 27 NOSA Sprint features in his career are still tied for fifth all-time in NOSA history — and he’s been retired 16 years. He won NOSA features at Grand Forks, Norman County Raceway in Ada and at Nodak Speedway in Minot.
He started his career in a modified in 1992 and ran that for four years. In 1995 he ran both a sprint and a modified before moving into the sprint cars full time in 1996.
“I wanted to drive a sprint car,” Pake said. “They’re one of a kind.”
Pake also made a name for himself in snowmobiles, driving for Arctic Cat. He won 36 times in terrain competition and was indicted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 2016. He’s considered one of the great all-time terrain racers according to his bio on the Snowmobile HOF website.
“I had more time in the winter to commit to it,” Pake said of snowmobile racing. “I did it pretty serious for 10 years.”
Pake quit sprint car racing in 2001 but returned to drive the car owned by Bergstrom Electric from 2002-04. He won eight NOSA Sprint features during that time.
Sprint-car guru Doug Howell was turning the wrench for Pake during several of his sprint car seasons.
“He had cars in the outlaws and a lot of professional (drivers),” Pake said. “I had a good car all the time. Doug kept it in top-notch shape.”
His said his biggest win came in Grand Forks, a $5,000-to-win show that attracted some top travelers from the Midwest.
“Grand Forks, I liked that track,” Pake said. “It’s tight. Even if a guy was faster than you you’ve still got a chance in lapped traffic.”
He fell in love with sprint car racing.
“It’s tough to explain. They accelerate so quick,” Pake said. “They can change direction pretty quick. The horsepower-to-weight ratio is pretty good. What I enjoyed most was going through traffic.”
He stepped away from racing sprint cars after 2004 at age 35. Family commitments and farming — he farms 2,900 acres in the Felton/Georgetown area — took priority.
“I was basically running out of time,” Pake said. “I was just too busy.”
He misses racing but also has turned down opportunities to drive a sprint car over the last 10 years.
“I know what it takes to do it,” Pake said. “You’ve got to be all in.”