Lucas Oil Speedway
Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: Military vet Briggs races for fun, camaraderie in competitive USRA B-Mod division
WHEATLAND, MO. (July 8, 2021) - Wesley Briggs rarely competes for feature wins in the highly competitive Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod division at Lucas Oil Speedway. But if you’re a fan looking for a driver to cheer for, Briggs might be your man.
As the speedway pays tribute this Saturday to those who served the country with Military and Veterans Appreciation Night Presented by KOZL 27 - offering free admission to those who wore the uniform - Briggs fits in that category. He served in the United States Air Force from 1993-2002.
“It means everything to me,” Briggs said of his time in the Air Force. “I’m glad I served. Those people, they’re way underpaid for what they do and hours they put in. It’s 365 days a year, 24 hours a day on-call.”
Briggs was overseas most of his military career, including stints in Guam, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Among his most vivid memories are serving in the desert heat as a transportation specialist, working the aftermath of a 220 mile-per-hour typhoon in Guam and being part of rescue and recovery following Korean Airlines Flight 801's 1997 crash on Nimitz Hill in Guam which killed 229 of the 254 people on board.
"You can imagine, going and picking up anything you can find - fingers, legs, you name it," Briggs said of the airliner crash. "Those memories stick with you. They are coming back to me now."
But there’s more to Briggs’ story. He likely would have remained in the Air Force longer, if not for being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2000 leading to a medical discharge two years later.
“When I was diagnosed back in 2000, they didn’t know a lot about MS,” Briggs said. “He said, ’Look, I don’t want to diagnose you. You’re 27 years old and you’re gonna be in a wheelchair in five years and dead in 10.’ I was like, ‘OK, cool.’ I walked out of his office and it didn’t really even hit me.”
Briggs returned home after his discharge and got into racing in 2006 as a way to remain physically active. He bought a mini-stock and raced a little at Lebanon Midway Speedway. He joked that “I was getting lapped on cautions.”
Then Briggs bought a Crate Late Model and ran at several area tracks, even taking a shot against better, more-powerful cars in the Show-Me Racing Series. Making features, even as a provisional starter and earning $325, was big for him.
Briggs took a few years off from racing, moving to the Kansas City area where he met and married (Lisa Briggs) in 2011. Upon moving back to Lebanon a couple of years ago to help care for his parents - who have since passed away - he got back into racing.
“I wanted something to do on a Friday or Saturday night. I thought, ‘Shoot, I’ll get in one of these B-Mods. I can get in there and be competitive.’ Boy, was I fooling myself then. Holy Cow, that’s the most competitive class there is.
“Kris Jackson, JC Morton, Ryan Gillmore and on and on. We have the best in the business right here. Tyler Kidwell, the leader in USRA points, comes down here and gets fifth at Lucas a while back. We have the best, no doubt about it. I call Kris Jackson a B-Mod god.”
Jackson, a fellow Lebanon resident and five time Lucas Oil Speedway track champion, has been a big help to Briggs with advice and car set-up.
“A win for me is one, making the feature," Briggs said. "I’ve not been doing too good this year. I have the best equipment - a 2018 Rage with a Yeoman motor. I have the best, for once in my life. Before, I had junk. I’m a lot better with Kris’ help.
“Mark Simon and Jamie Mauk are like my psychologists. They keep telling me I’ve got the best, that I’m a good driver. It’s just getting my mind right. I have to be more aggressive. I don’t want to hit anybody or tear anybody up. That’s not who I am. I don’t want to be the lapped car that dictates who wins.”
Briggs wound up a respectable eighth in Lucas Oil Speedway Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod points last season and is 10th in 2021, making three A Features in eight attempts. His goals are realistic and his priorities a bit different than most, with a focus on fun and camaraderie.
As for his MS, Briggs has far surpassed that initial diagnosis from the Air Force doctor 21 years ago. That's his biggest win.
“I’m doing good,” Briggs said. “I still have my days. I have pain and tingling, my body feels hot on the inside. I get tired a lot.
“A win for me is making the feature, loading the car in one piece and not being in a wheelchair. Victory for me is having fun and I love talking to people.”
The Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods headline the Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series program on Saturday with a 25-lap main event. As part of the Titans B-Mod Series, the winner will collect $1,000 will all starters in the feature assured of $100.
The ULMA Late Models, Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds and O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars also will be in action as the Weekly Racing Series points chase resumes.
Frogs Jr Fan Club Pit Tour: Young fans arriving early are invited to sign up for the Frogs Jr Fan Club Pit Tour. Kids ages 5-12 can sign up on the midway, behind the main grandstands, before 5 p.m. with eight names drawn for a special pit-area tour at 5:15 with flagman Mike Striegel.
The youngsters will get to meet some of the drivers, see the cars up close and attend the drivers' meeting prior to return to the midway. Each of the eight will receive a Frogs Jr Fan Club T-Shirt, checkered flag and a gift bag sponsored by RaceGear Unlimited to put items in they receive from the drivers.
Beat-the-heat suite deal returns: Fans can take in Saturday night's dirt-track action from a VIP Suite on the third level overlooking the front straightaway, as a limited number of individual tickets are available priced at $24 apiece. All VIP Suite seats must be pre-paid and can be reserved by calling Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984.
The suite offers prime viewing from inside, where the temperature is climate-controlled, or an outside seating area. Food and drinks are not included in the ticket price, though a host/hostess will be available to take food and drink orders throughout the evening.
Gates will open at 4 p.m. with hot laps at 6:30 and racing at 7:05.
Adults (16 and over) - $12
Seniors (62 and over) - $9
Military/Veterans - FREE with ID
Youth (ages 6-15) - $5
Kids (5 and under) - FREE
Family pass (two adults and up to three youth 6-15) - $30
Pit pass - $30
For ticket information for any event during the 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can use the online ticketing system.
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984
Article Credit: By Lyndal Scranton, Lucas Oil Speedway