Comprised of philanthropist and rider Robert Brandt and championship rider and tuner Richard Gadson, Gadson Brandt Racing (GBR) will make their Pro Stock Motorcycle debut at the upcoming Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex outside of Dallas, the 13th event on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule, October 14-16.
Brandt started his dragbike racing career just over a year ago riding the Military Suicide Awareness drag bike in the NHDRO and ManCup Series in honor of his son, active Army Sgt. Riley C. Brandt, who he lost to suicide in November 2020. Brandt joined with Richard Gadson, a third generation drag bike racer and five-time national champion in XDA, NHDRO, SEMDRA and ManCup, and two nonprofits, Mission 22 and Stop Soldier Suicide, to bring both his and Gadson’s vision of competing in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle to life.
“If I would have known about even one of these non-profits maybe just maybe I could have heard something, seen something in my son or been able to suggest these organizations to him for help other than the ARMY,” said Brandt who grew up in the NHRA pits with his father, Hall of Fame mechanic Bob Brandt Sr. who was crew chief for Don “Snake” Prudhomme through the 70s and 80s. “I want to bring awareness and hope to help someone somewhere. After an overwhelming response to the bike at Rockingham in the ManCup Series and Indianapolis in the NHDRO it was my goal to take this mission to the NHRA and build a Pro Stock Motorcycle team. With the help of Richard, we’ve been able to make that happen.”
The team is privately funded with no donations of any kind from Mission22 or Stop Soldier Suicide going towards team operations. Currently, Gadson will not only ride the GBR Military Suicide Awareness bike, he’ll also share tuning duties with Michael Goñi, owner of Standard Cycle Company. The bike being debuted at the Fall Nationals is fittingly owned by James Johnson, a 22-year Army veteran who rekindled his passion for drag bike racing after retiring to help cope with his diagnosed PTSD. Johnson was first mentored by NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Tom Duke in the late 80s and early 90s and only stopped drag racing to pursue his career in the military.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity that James Johnson and his JJR Suzuki is allowing us to debut at the Texas Motorplex. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to compete in the NHRA. Huge thanks to everyone who helped us get this far. I never knew how hard it was to field a Pro Stock Motorcycle, much respect to the entire class,” said Gadson, who is the nephew of 11-time world champion Ricky Gadson. “To team up with Robert to honor his son and other fallen soldiers on the bike with Stop Soldier Suicide and Mission22 is very special.”
“Nobody is more deserving and ready to make this move than Richard Gadson and I am truly blessed for his belief in my mission to honor my son and soldiers who took their lives,” Brandt added. “GBR is racing for a mission, Military Suicide Awareness and Championships, having Richard as our rider and tuner will help us with both.”
Gadson Brandt Racing is actively pursuing sponsorship and partnerships to run the remaining races of the NHRA Camping World Pro Stock Motorcycle tour as well as the 2023 season. Brandt has taken his mission a step further by starting a non-profit, The Sgt. Riley C. Brandt Foundation, in honor of his son which will aim to honor two families of deceased soldiers on the GBR Military Suicide Awareness bike and as guests at each NHRA event.
About Mission 22
Mission 22 is dedicated to healing America’s veterans when they need it most — right now. We offer treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury and all of the issues veterans are facing today. Whether you’re a vet, a family-member, or a part of the community, you are a part of the mission.
For more information visit https://mission22.com/.
About Stop Soldier Suicide
Not all crisis looks the same. Stop Soldier Suicide is our promise to those who are facing it. Our struggles may be loud or silent; all-consuming or passing; during service or any time after; a moment or a lifetime. We have a relentless focus on results. We don’t just say we support vets – we actually save lives. With your help, we can move even faster to drastically reduce veteran suicide rates.
photos by Tim Hailey