By Kelvin Dodd; photography by the author
Welcome to a new British Motoring feature called Heroes. In each issue we will introduce you to a person who promotes or fosters interest in British cars. The personalities will come from all over the hobby and have at least one common thread, a passion for enjoying British motoring. In the case of our first hero Colbi Bradley, her preferred form of motoring is racing.
I had a chance to meet 18-year-old Colbi at the Mitty Classic and was immediately impressed with her choice of racecar and her cool, calm demeanor. Considering it was a sweltering spring day and she was in full race uniform, this was doubly impressive. Her father Jay was a crew chief for an HSR team, so it was natural that he would point Colbi towards the series to begin her sportscar racing career.
It turns out that Colbi was competing at the Mitty to qualify for her HSR racing license and the car she was running had significant racing experience in the hands of Jerry Richards of MGVR. I thought it was a very interesting choice to pair the freshman from Georgia Tech with a 35-year-old MGB V8 GT race car.
Colbi proved more than ready for the challenge. She has experience racing karts and told me that her father, who provided much of her motorhead inspiration, built the first of many karts for her when she was just four years old.
Karting has launched many racing careers and served as the first step into professional competition for household names like Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and numerous oval and road racers. Via programs like the Red Bull Challenge, American Scott Speed rose through the ranks to a Formula One gig! Once they have broken into the big leagues many racers continue karting to stay sharp.
Colbi moved through the kart world and reached the upper ranks of competition in the 125cc shifter kart class. With a tremendous power to weight ratio and telepathic handling a shifter kart seems light years away from racing the MGB V8 on the demanding Road Atlanta circuit. According to Colbi much of the basics of karting apply to road racing but there are some significant differences. The most pronounced was dealing with the suspension (since shifter karts don’t have suspension) and the ride height. While we think of an MG as low to the ground, it’s nowhere near the ground-skimming level of Colbi’s kart. She says, “The MGB feels like a monster truck compared to my kart.”
Jerry Richards owns the MGB V8 GT you see here and it’s quite a machine. Jerry has raced the MGB in vintage races all over the U.S. Jerry has provided more than a car for Colbi, she tells me that he has been an inspiration and his racing background has been very helpful translating her karting experience and technique into road racing.
Colbi told me that her favorite thing about the MGB is its historical value. She relates that many new racers in her age group are stuffed into new cars with state of the art equipment adding layers between the car and driver. She believes that the MGB’s lack of modern technology like data acquisition or carbon brakes lets her directly experience what the car is communicating to her while lapping the track. This racing rookie has learned quite a bit from the veteran MGB.
When I asked Colbi what advice she might share with aspiring vintage racers she didn’t hesitate, “Go for it! HSR and SVRA are like big families always looking for new particpants.” She added that if you need to locate a car or other information the HSR website is very helpful.
Most racers I have met have a clear set of goals that they use to measure their success and Colbi is no exception. Her plan is clear and concise, she wants to get her HSR competition license and race professionally, most likely sports car road racing. She adds that she feels an affinity towards open wheeled cars because of her karting background.
While studying Business Management at Georgia Tech, Colbi wants to intern with a NASCAR team in nearby Charlotte. She says that if she doesn’t pursue driving as a career she would like to manage a professional racing team. This young lady has a plan and a schedule. The MGB is a stepping stone towards bigger and better things.
It’s ironic that the Bradley family doesn’t have one British car on its resume (that she can recall) and Colbi believes the MG is the first British car she has driven. I doubt it will be the last.