THE BLOG

LIFE ON AND OFF THE TRACK

THE SHOP

By | 2017-04-28T03:20:18+00:00 03.02.2016|Tags: |67 Comments

We recently completed work on the new shop for my racing team, Brad Keselowski Racing. I’m extremely proud of the facility—it’s got state-of-the-art everything—and I want to tell you about some of the things that make it unique.

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But the real reason the shop means so much to me is the story behind it. It’s a story about despair and motivation. It’s a story about hope. And it’s a story about what happens when you believe in yourself, even naively, and do everything you can to persevere.

Sometimes, when you do that, you wind up in a place you could only have dreamed was possible.

THE SALE

This story begins in 2006, back when my family’s racing team, K Automotive, was broke and bankrupt. We’d had a sponsor the year before, but the sponsor didn’t pay what they’d promised they would pay during the off-season of 2005. Our debts were piling up, and things were looking pretty grim for my mom, dad, uncle, brother and me. We decided we weren’t going to run Daytona in 2006. We couldn’t afford it.

Then a benevolent friend of ours, who’s asked not to be named, stepped up and told us, “It would be a true tragedy if you didn’t run Daytona. An absolute tragedy.”

Literally a week before Daytona, he gave us the money to run the race.

So we drove down to North Carolina, and rented a motor from Doug Yates from Roush Yates Engines. A different friend with a tiny race shop in Moorfields, North Carolina, helped us put the engine in our truck, and we went down to Daytona. While we were there, we found a potential sponsor who made us a great offer. “Look,” he said, “if you guys run really well here in Daytona, I’ll sponsor you for the next two or three races.”

We were full of hope, just absolutely full of hope. All we needed was a good Daytona. A year earlier, we’d finished seventh. We could do it again. And if we did that, we could maybe keep the wheels on this thing and keep racing, stay in business, and even find a way to pay our bills down. Thinking back, it felt like the start of a late fourth quarter comeback in a football game. We had the ball in our hands, with a chance to win it all.

So the race comes, and we’re running on all that optimism, ready to make it happen. There was never more riding on a race in the history of my family’s team than there was that day. It was huge.

We wrecked out. A truck in front of me ran into someone. I got caught up in it, and that was it: the ultimate low of lows.

On the way home from Daytona, we stopped in North Carolina to drop the engine off. The next week’s race was in California, so we had two or three days to figure out our next move. We were out of money.

We did have one asset remaining that was worth a lot: our number. At the time, teams needed to finish in the top 35 over the course of the year to have a guaranteed position in the coming season’s races. There was a team out of Statesville, North Carolina, that had a rookie driver and a good sponsor, but because they were a new team, they didn’t have a guarantee. If they finished well in the first few weeks of the season, they could get it, but we were heading into Week 2. They were in a lot of trouble—not just for making that week’s race, but for the foreseeable future, however long it lasted.

So we decided to sell our number—and our guarantee—to them. They’d automatically have a guaranteed position for the year, and we’d have enough money to get to California, and keep things going. We’d lose our guarantee, but at that moment, we didn’t care. Nothing was guaranteed at that point.

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I headed down to Statesville, to the shop that the team was based out of. I’d heard of the shop before. It was built for a guy who eventually wanted to run a Cup team out of it, but he wasn’t ready for the commitment. So he built it with the idea that it could be expanded if he moved up to Cup. When the original owner went out of business, he sold it to the team I was meeting with.

The shop was 20 or 30 minutes away from the tiny place where we were working. When I got there, I pulled in, then got out to look around. The shop was beautiful, around 35,000 square feet. Clean. Fully stocked. There were people everywhere working. Keep in mind, we only had three or four people working on my truck. They probably had 30, maybe 40, all dressed nicely. The trucks were brand new. The shop was vibrant with energy, hope, and optimism. It was like my dream personified, exactly the opportunity I wanted and was ready for.

And here I was, walking into it to sell my family’s truck rights to someone else.

Not long after, the deal was done. The rights were gone. A lot of that year was spent doing that, selling off assets that my family, my mom and dad and uncle, had worked to accumulate over the course of their entire lives. Selling that guarantee was really, really hard to do. I remember calling my dad on the flip phone I had at the time to tell him I’d done it. It was a hard phone call. He was really hurt.

I know it sounds kind of crazy to say this, but I wasn’t hurt. I really wasn’t. I was motivated. I remember feeling that all I needed was an opportunity to work the kinds of resources a shop like that had, and I would be successful.

I left there feeling really hungry to make it, and believing that if I worked hard enough, I would.

Two weeks later, our family’s team folded.

FULL CIRCLE

Life went on, and everyone knows the story now: I worked through some low level Cup teams, got on with Dale Jr., wound up making my way to Penske, and eventually, I found the success I believed I would.

I also built up my own truck team, and a couple of years ago, I decided I needed a new shop for it. Our space was around 10,000 square feet, and we were busting at the seams. I found a new place that was in foreclosure, but the bank was being difficult about completing the sale, and stalled things pretty badly. I couldn’t keep waiting. Then a new place came onto the market, and I went and looked at it.

It was the same shop where I’d sold the rights to K Automotive all those years before.

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There’s a saying that you can’t go home again because when you do, everything looks different, and it’s not because it’s changed. It’s because you have. The shop had declined over the years, but not that much. Nothing significant was all that different. I’d seen a lot of amazing shops since 2006. (Penske has the most incredible shop in all of auto racing.) It simply wasn’t close to as nice as I remembered it being.

But I knew it could be expanded. And I figured that if I could get it for the right price, I’d buy it and build it out.

So that’s what we did.

We renovated the shop over the course of 2014, moved in the summer of 15, and then began the expansion, which just completed.

Our facility is 72,000 square feet. The floors are done perfectly with epoxy coating. The ceiling and walls are painted white, so it’s super bright in there. You can work in the shop without turning the lights on just from the natural light. It has snap on tool boxes, its own paint booth, and a ventilation system for fumes. The haulers can pull inside and operate without being out in the weather. The shop even has its own water recycling. It’s arguably the best shop in the second and third tier NASCAR series.

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And during the whole process of building the shop out, I’ve realized a few things. The first is how far I’ve come, and how lucky I’ve been to have the people I have around me at Team Penske. Another is that I want to be able to provide the drivers and teams at BKR with everything I dreamed of having when I was 22. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do that now.

And finally, I honestly can’t believe the shop is mine. Because as much as I believed I would succeed when I was younger, I have a real appreciation now for how unbelievable it is, in some ways, that things worked out.

It’s something I’ll never forget—especially on the days when I step into the BKR shop, and get to work.

67 Comments

  1. Patty coy March 2, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    Congrats on alll your hard work to fulfill your dreams.Beautiful shop and continued success with BKR and all the people that work for you.Dreams can come true.

  2. carolyn dawson March 2, 2016 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Wonderful story and very heartfelt told. When you decide to give up the racing helmet, I hope you consider some writing adventures. You have a talent. Thank you for sharing.

  3. michael hunter March 2, 2016 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    very nice!

  4. Don March 2, 2016 at 5:00 pm - Reply

    One hell of a nice write up! Nothing wrong when things happen and then working hard and having a dream of making it. Also happy to see my new driver knows how to work and never forgets friends and family, after all I have done it over 60 years and believe me I love when it comes full circle! Good luck Mr. Brad Keselowski, aka (BAD BRAD).

  5. Darryl March 2, 2016 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    This story epitomizes why I support you as my favoutite driver. You are real! You know what it means to work hard and care about your craft . Thank you for sharing yourself with us .

  6. Stan glenn March 2, 2016 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    way to go brad you deserve it, I remember when you subbed for Ted Musgrave, I think, you did such a great job you caught the attention of dale jr. and that started the ball rolling, at least I think that’s the way it happened.

  7. Ed Parrott March 2, 2016 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Stories like this are part of what sets Nascar apart from nearly any other sport. This was a damn good read.

  8. Gary Hubbs March 2, 2016 at 5:08 pm - Reply

    Congratulations on your success I watched the race in Memphis that you should have won and kept up ever since

  9. Joshua March 2, 2016 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    Good read! Hard work pays off!

  10. Patricia V. March 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Beautiful story … beautifully written. Hope you are keeping notes and will one day write a bio.

  11. don myhre March 2, 2016 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    awesome blog brad. and one of the the reasons you have been my fav since you were in trucks. I am tok (the old kid) from the Philippines.

    • kbtoys March 3, 2016 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Tok, KBTOYS from Hawaii! Go Brad, Go Joey!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Ahurley March 2, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Awesome just awesome !

  13. Bobbi Jo Hilman March 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    Omg!! what an awesome success story, congrats to you and your family for putting it all on the line. You are an awesome driver and deserve all that you have.

  14. callent.beefalo@hotmail.com March 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Always knew you had it in you. Watch you every race just like Sterling Marlin.

  15. Anthony March 2, 2016 at 5:30 pm - Reply

    What’s the story behind the Sign?

  16. Tammie T March 2, 2016 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing, you never cease to impress me!

  17. Bruce Gustafson March 2, 2016 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    Happy for you and the people you employ… You are a real racer and the real deal, so I believe it will all work out for you.
    Last time I seen you race was in New Hampshire… and the guys I was with had to stay and let me watch the burn out… lol
    Best to all…

  18. Fred Moody March 2, 2016 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Your Dad and family must be so very proud of you Brad, I am.

  19. Jeff March 2, 2016 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    Why is there a chev in the lot. Standards Brad. Make them park out back.

  20. donna davis March 2, 2016 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    You are an amazing young man, next years most admired driver. I have met you several times and that smile is always on your face, you truley love what you are doing and it shows

  21. Kristine March 2, 2016 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    Awesome story! Hopefully the young men that drive your trucks will read this and appreciate what they have.

  22. Pat March 2, 2016 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    Good job. You been my main driver ever since you started in cup ” you got it “

  23. Kat March 2, 2016 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Wonderful story Brad, you and your hard working family deserves nothing but good in your lives. I have had faith in your championship ability since I saw you at Toledo Speedway years ago, Thank God for all his blessings

  24. Ray wade March 2, 2016 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Nice article Brad, so cool to see you own the building where you thought you might have lost it all. As always were pulling for you again this weekend.

  25. Rand March 2, 2016 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    Always a huge admirer of your family since they were racing in ARCA. I lived in Rochester for several years, and my wife is from Pontiac , so K Automotive was always our “hometown team” in ARCA and Trucks. Michigan legendary racer Joy Fair was a friend of mine (and your dad and unce) and often told me how much he respected your entire family. His exact words were “hard, hard workers” Coming from him that meant a lot to me.

    Really loved this story and interesting how things sometimes come around full circle

  26. Barbie Lagudi March 2, 2016 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Nothing better than a story with a happy ending…. Or should I say continuing success story. I was never interested in the truck series until I heard you had your own team. Now I find myself routing for all your trucks. This story makes it all more fun. Thank you good luck #teamBKR #GoingFor2

  27. Randy Renfrow March 2, 2016 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Very proud of you Brad and you stuck it out and wouldn’t give up and that takes a lot of heart.The one thing that I know for sure is you have a great family behind you.When I ran in the truck series anytime I walked by Bob and Kay they always spoke to me and were 2 of the nicest people in the series.You are very lucky to have support like that.Good luck bud cause you deserve it and have earned it. Tell Bob and Kay that Diane and myself said hey

  28. Betty Carey March 2, 2016 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    That’s why I like you as a Driverlove your drive and determination I have doubt you will be around for along time to come champ.

  29. Chris Schlaff March 2, 2016 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Way to go Brad! Simply outstanding. I visited the old shop in Rochester many may years ago, when your father and uncle Ron were working on the old purple Charger! So I know this is truly a blessing to you and your family. Truly a dream come true. Stay strong as we look forward to seeing you in the lead pack every weekend. God Bless!

  30. Kathy March 2, 2016 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    The tears are streaming from the memories, Brad. We are so proud of you!!!!

  31. Adam Plitko March 2, 2016 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Way to go Brad! Im so glad your dream came true, and beautiful shop. I hope to visit the shop either this year or next! Lets go win a championship for BKR, Ford and all your sponsors!

  32. Don Dittenber March 2, 2016 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Just goes to show,it’s not all about dreams,it takes a lot of darn hard work.You made it happen.Hellva job Brad.Was a real pleasure to have met you.Michigan afghan people.

  33. Danny Turner March 2, 2016 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    You have done a great job Brad. I became a big fan of yours when you ran the Dodge for Penske. With Dodge out I continued to back you, and I am proud that I have. I wish the best for you, Penske and Joey. Also, my friend Rocky from Florida works for you, and I am hoping to stop by the shop next week. Your dad stuck it out as long as he could in a MOPAR too, so I was a fan of his.

  34. Michael Smalley March 2, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    I read this story because I was already a fan, which also made it a pleasure to read. Great story.

  35. Marcy clark-wright March 2, 2016 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Brad what a story. Incredible. You have strong motivation and the love of your family that keeps you going. But you know that. Congratulations Champ. You earned it

  36. Donna Musgrave March 2, 2016 at 7:17 pm - Reply

    I first met you in 2008 and knew right then you were the driver I needed to follow. Keep reaching in everything you do, racing, life and family. God Bless!

  37. Kathy Gordon March 2, 2016 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    It’s hard hitting rock bottom but only way left is up!! You can move mountains with your bare hands when motivated & hungry enough. This story brought tears to my eyes cz I’ve been there. Congrats Brad on your dream, your success, for NEVER giving up on yourself!!
    Much Respect

  38. Sheri Albritton March 2, 2016 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I am even more proud now to call myself a Brad Keselowski fan! I have a question, is your family involved in BK Racing? Beautiful shop BTW, hope to visit in 2017.

  39. Wilma M. Foland March 2, 2016 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Very, very happy for you. From all the fans from two FB groups: Team Penske Natin and Brad Keslowski Fans!

  40. Kim Brown March 2, 2016 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    Such a feel good, awesome story. It is nice to know you truly came “full circle”! : )

  41. Janet Krause March 2, 2016 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    Another great blog. Love hearing about your climb to the top. You & your family have worked hard over the years. You have earned your success. Now we need a break for Brian. Did they give you a key to this shop? I remembered you arrived at the old shop one day and couldn’t get in the locked door.

  42. Richard Shanks March 2, 2016 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    That’s why you are the man.a Great man …

  43. Junior Pruitt March 2, 2016 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Brad, it gives me great pleasure watching you accomplish such lofty goals. I can say, you becoming a top tier Nascar driver was not surprising to me. I always knew you could do it if given the opportunity. Knowing your Mom and Dad personally, you display the qualities of each parent. That was all you needed to succeed. That and a little good fortune. You carry yourself with dignity and you are humble at the same time. I have to agree as so many have said, you do have a knack for writing. Can you tell who my favorite driver is? LOL

  44. Don Z-Ski March 2, 2016 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    K-Ski, what a great comeback for your entire team and family! No guts, no glory!! That defines your racing and your family’s race enterprises, likely your family heritage too! Stay strong, be fast, TAKE NO PRISONERS!

  45. Cheryl Waterfield March 2, 2016 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    I met a young man who works for you in this shop. I was telling him you were my favorite driver and that I appreciate all you do for your fans. The man told me how much he enjoyed working for you. He said that the way you treat your people and your appreciation of the work they do, are the reasons he enjoys his job so much.

  46. Tony March 2, 2016 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    That team was Morgan-Dollar

    Great read and so happy for you that you made it and you caught a break to show your talent and potential. I don’t root for you much on the track on Sundays (i’m a Jimmie fan, please don’t remind me of Phoenix 2012) but I really enjoy hearing this story of how you and your family overcame the odds and you were able to succeed. That’s what our sport is about. Working hard and struggling and if you work hard enough you will find what you were looking for.

  47. Tom Strothers March 3, 2016 at 6:22 am - Reply

    I’m very glad that everything has worked out for you. This should be an inspiration to everyone embarking on something much bigger than them. Thanks and good luck for the future of BK Racing.

  48. Peter Watt March 3, 2016 at 8:23 am - Reply

    Congratulations on your success as a driver and owner. I have been a fan since you first stepped into Junior’s car and your the reason I keep tuning into Nascar Racing each week.
    Thanks for telling your story as it is what every young person needs to hear so they to can make their dreams come true.

  49. Wanda March 3, 2016 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Congratulations on your new shop! Brad I have a new respect for you, you’re not my number one driver but I pull for you and Joey. You are a very talented driver, owner and writer. I expect good things from you in the future and hope you continue to carve your legacy in nascar. My God bless you and your family.

  50. Ted Parker March 3, 2016 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Great writing Brad , hope you post more stories when you have time . We fans don’t get any of that stuff. Been following you since you started with Junior .

  51. Sandi Beach March 3, 2016 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Very Happy for you & that shop is beautiful! The floors shine so much they reflect the cars numbers! Alot different from Auburn Hills!!

  52. Ken March 3, 2016 at 11:07 am - Reply

    You have been my favorite driver since the very first time I saw you drive a truck. You have unlimited talent and it is so gratifying to see things work out for you and your family. My wife had the pleasure of meeting you during Champion’s week in Las Vegas. The picture of you and her will always remain on my profile. You and Joey are a pleasure to watch. Keep it up for your many Canadian fans.

  53. John Ferguson, Airport Manager March 3, 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    We are so blessed to have you in Statesville and at the Statesville Regional Airport.!

  54. lujuanna mccoy March 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm - Reply

    as usual you have written a very moving blog. i hope that sometime in the future you will compile all the blogs into a book that i will be first in line to buy. your a great writer and a great racer and a great family man.

  55. Mike March 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Cool Story, and makes me a bigger fan. To come full circle like that, really has to be a real tear jerker……. I’m questioning who built that shop?

  56. Sharal March 3, 2016 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    I love your style too. You drive like you need the money to buy groceries! You give it all you got. My husband and I are Team Penske all the way. Joey is not scared to drive like he stole it either. You two are are Youug Guns of NASCAR

  57. Jim Terpstra March 3, 2016 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Beautiful Story Brad. What a Blessing!

  58. Kathy Wilton March 3, 2016 at 9:24 pm - Reply

    Wonderful, heartfelt story. Sometimes, all you need is a vision. The determination to get there feeds off that vision. Very proud of you and your success.

  59. kelly March 3, 2016 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    You have a gift for putting words and thoughts together, great story!

  60. Todd keyes March 4, 2016 at 7:05 am - Reply

    Excellent job, the way to treated my wife on pit road I’ll never forget. How happy she was that you took a minute out of your busy day to talk to her. Forever making me a fan of yours. Thank you.

  61. Erica March 5, 2016 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    Great! Goes to show maybe you need to dream bigger. You have accomplished so much, in such a short period of time. Dream outrageously clear, be calmly focused. This shows you can do anything, with people who will support your dream.

  62. Robert Pittman March 5, 2016 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Great story. I wish you well in your new shop.

  63. Brandon March 7, 2016 at 5:56 pm - Reply

    Nice story, I am a die hard Hendrick Motor Sports fan, but if you don’t respect BK for his hard work and strong family ties I think you are mistaken.
    Good read

  64. Norah March 7, 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Huge fan from Australia here. Brad you are an inspiration.

  65. doug johnson March 9, 2016 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    been a fan since you put jr’s xfinity car up front and showed em all what you could do. and now you have your own shop, i try to imagine what that must be like to pull in to the parking lot of a 75k building going inside and seeing all those race trucks that are from a dream come true. Congratulations my man, congratulations.
    ps i dont know who those screaming people are in the stands that scream at you and joey and cheer kenseth when he drove joey into the wall last year at Martinsville but one thing is for sure they arent racing fans. dont know what to call them but theyre not racing fans. Ive been a fan since the sixties. So i think i know a fan when i see or hear one and those animals are not fans of anything that ive ever seen. Racing like liberty, patriotism has changed and unfortunately for the worst, which is why we need to make sure Trump is nominated to be elected President Its not too late to turn from this New World Order liberalism that is spreading like some germ to Make America Great Again as promised by Donald J Trump
    Now go get em at Phoenix Two in a row? Easy peasy

  66. Jared B. May 22, 2016 at 4:11 am - Reply

    BK ALL DAY!!! Love your driving style, love your attitude, and I love you passion for the sport. Keep it up bro! I’ll be watching every race and rooting for the Miller Lite Ford Fusion. BK ALL DAY!!

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