Mullen Continues Development in NOSA Sprints
If you are an up-and-coming driver just starting out in your 410 Sprint Car career — there couldn’t be a better mentor than a veteran driver who’s won 278 career features.
Brendan Mullen, 17, of Grand Forks, has that opportunity. His mentor and teammate is veteran Wade Nygaard of Grand Forks — who has 142 career NOSA Sprint wins, 278 career wins overall and is a 10-time NOSA Sprint Car champion.
“I grew up in his trailer, and I was at the shop with him all the time growing up,” Mullen said. “We’re like teammates now, and we work out of the same shop…he’s a role model to follow.”
Mullen is in his third year behind the wheel of the #11M NOSA Sprint and is learning the ropes in a very difficult and competitive class to master. Nygaard said he provides guidance when asked, but ultimately the growth comes from laps behind the wheel.
“He's a very smart and level-headed young man,” Nygaard said. “I give him small tips here and there when he asks but we all know racing is all about seat time —the more you race the better you get.”
Mullen picked up his first career sprint car win on Aug. 24, 2019 at a Canadian-American Outlaw Sprint Car Series event at Devils Lake Speedway.
“It felt really good — just to try and get some momentum to try and get win a few of these (NOSA) races this year,” Mullen said. “And get kind of a base to where we know we are good and build on that.”
Mullen was in a go-kart by age eight and a lightning sprint by age 12. He made his NOSA Sprint debut in 2018. He had raced in the sprint previously before making his River Cities Speedway debut in the 410 sprint. Needless to say, his initial laps around the 3/10-mile bullring were memorable.
“Hectic,” Mullen said. “When we came here, it was kinda of eye-opening almost. It feels faster here because it’s so short around. It’s insane.”
Going from the Lightning Sprint, which weighs 950 pounds with a 1000cc engine, to the high-horsepower 410 sprints was an adjustment. The more laps he’s made, the more at ease he’s become.
“Right away, it was hard for me to get used to the passing cars with the open wheel,” Mullen said. “Even though the lightning sprints were open wheel, it was nerve-wracking getting closer to other cars. The more laps you make, it gets more comfortable. It’s to the point now where it is normal.”
“For the small amount that he has raced he is getting really comfortable and will be winning races regularly soon,” Nygaard said.
This season, he has a third-place finish racing with the 360 sprints at I-90 Speedway near Hartford, S.D. He has yet to finish outside the top seven in four features at River Cities Speedway this season.
“We’ll race as much as we can,” Mullen said.
One of his goals for 2020 is to record his first career NOSA win.
“Hopefully, become more consistent,” Mullen said, “and win a couple of NOSA shows.”
NOSA Sprint #11M
Residence: Grand Forks, N.D.
Sponsors: Auto Finance Super Center, CL Linfoot Co., Simplot (Grand Forks), Bosh Enterprises, Forks Finest Auto Body, J.M.S. Motorsports