By Vern Hee
The Pahrump Valley Speedway has had its share of financial problems. Talk to Chad Broadhead, owner of the popular track, about the business and he would be the first to tell you it’s still open because of the kindness of one friend, Bryan Wulfenstein.
Broadhead said he has known Bryan for at least 10 years. He became close to Wulfenstein after he did his mission for the LDS church.
“When he got back, he was always into racing. He was always at the track with his dad, Jim. Bryan was there when the track was built and was one of the first kids around there. His grandpa used to announce at the track and helped build the track,” said Broadhead.
In 2007, the track owner said Bryan was really into racing.
“I first saw Bryan race in 2007. I was watching Bryan race and he would win. Bryan was really involved in the track then and still is today. Now, if we need any materials, Bryan would bring them to me. If we need a piece of equipment, Bryan has it there for us. No ifs, ands or buts about it, he just does it and asks for nothing in return. Bryan is a very dear friend to me and I wish all young men were as respectful and polite as he. That is the way he was brought up. I could not ask for a better friend than Bryan,” said the grateful speedway owner.
The Wulfenstein family has a long history of racing that spans three generations.
Go into Wulfy’s, the family restaurant at 1111 S. Highway 160, and you will see the love of racing. The walls in the back dining room are lined with NASCAR racing paraphernalia.
Ray Wulfenstein started the racing tradition in the family. He then passed it on to his son Jim and he passed it on to Bryan.
At an early age, Bryan said he often went to the track to watch his father race.
“My interest came from my father. He started racing when I was in my mom’s belly. I remember going to the track when I was 3 or 4 years old in Pahrump. We would also drive into Las Vegas to see my father race on the asphalt. My father eased up on the racing when I went into sports in middle school and high school. Then he eased back into it. I remember I was on his pit crew along with some of my friends. I was just a grunt on the pit crew and I would haul tires and get fuel to start,” said Bryan.
Bryan said he then became a spotter for his dad. Spotters use radios to communicate with the driver on the track.
“I got a radio and headset and I could talk to him in the car. That was asphalt racing, which is different than dirt. You can have radios in asphalt racing. As a spotter I would keep dad out of trouble and let him know how many laps he had left and all that kind of stuff. I helped out a lot and went to college and then I kind of took a break and went on my mission for the LDS Church,” remarked Bryan.
The young Wulfenstein went on his mission and took a break from racing. When he came home he found a car sitting next to the house.
“There was a Street Stock, old Camaro sitting on the side of the house. So I decided to make a dirt racer out of it. That is the same car I have today,” he said.
Today, Bryan races for fun. Racing is secondary to him. He said his family comes first to his fun. To him it is a good stress release to go racing. He likes doing it, but his love for the sport comes last and his family comes first. He said he learned this the hard way.
“I was racing Modified for a few months and then I had to step back. I was getting too consumed by it. I got married in 2007 and we had four kids quick, three boys and a little girl. I had to sit back and re-evaluate my priorities there. My wife and I were pretty busy. Racing takes a lot of time that I really did not want to give away,” said Bryan.
Bryan believes he has been able to come up with a reasonable compromise with his racing.
“I race because it is enjoyable. I do not race as much as I did. It takes a lot of time to be competitive and to get what you need to run up front. To have fun you must be competitive. There must be a happy medium that allows you to be with your family and to be competitive on the track too. What I have done is race only the big races like the Sam Stringer Memorial, last year. In doing this I am able to prepare over the course of a few weeks, instead of a week. I prepare for the bigger races and stay competitive. This is what works for me and my family and it may not work for someone else,” commented Bryan.
He said what makes racing enjoyable to him is the challenge and the strategy involved with winning.
“I love to win but it is not all about winning. It is the fun and the heat of the competition. My dad likes to strategize. My dad knows when to be aggressive and when to ease up a little bit. It is like a chess game for him. Taking that approach of it, how can I outsmart the guy in front of me or behind me. A lot of it is a mental thing. A lot of guys will over-drive their cars. They may be faster than you are, but if you are smarter at the track and driving you can still beat them. I think that is the kind of thing that I enjoy about it,” said the young Wulfenstein.
The two Wulfensteins, father and son race to win and often go up against each other on the track in the Super Stock class.
“My dad races the same class and so I will always consider him the one to beat. He just got a new car and he has been putting it together. If I am running and he is running then he is the one I want to beat. I have beat him. I beat him one time. He was driving Dan Snowden’s car and he said I cheated because I gave him a flat tire.
“This was 2007,” remarked the racer.