Traverse City, MI - Following a couple of seasons where Brandon Thirlby was forced out of the seat due to injuries, he looks for a fresh start in 2023, with big changes. As announced on Horsepower Happenings back in January, the former American Ethanol Late Model Tour Champion has merged his race team with DFB Racing, operated by Dave and Judy Bowen. Along with the merger comes a number of changes as well. Thirlby will now be piloting the #69, leaving his M14 behind.
After sitting out the final portion of the 2022 season due to a concussion, the Traverse City native has also expanded his race schedule for the upcoming season to accompany the new ride. As released last week, an aggressive 42 race schedule is on tap, with the hopes of getting back to championship form. Thirlby originally planned to kick off 2023 with the Valvoline Iron Man Series at Fort Payne Motor Speedway in Alabama, then the events at Attica Raceway Park and Brownstown Speedway last weekend, but mother nature intervened.
If the schedule isn’t revised, Thirlby will kick off his season at Attica on April 14th, followed by the season opener at Crystal Motor Speedway on April 15th.
Regular appearances at Merritt Speedway and Tri City Motor Speedway dot the schedule with some high-profile events added. He will make the trek south of the border multiple times in 2023, the first of which at Eldora for the Late Model Dream 100 June 6th-8th. A trip to Illinois is on the docket August 11th and 12th, with stops at Farmer City Raceway and Fairbury American Legion Speedway. Obviously, the event tops on the schedule is the 35th Annual Woodtic, which doubles as the Dan Salay Memorial, August 3rd-5th, a $35,000 to win event. Salay was a beloved crew member and the father of Thirlby’s wife Leah.
Also packed into a busy 2023, are three Summer National Hell Tour events at Hartford Motor Speedway, Butler Motor Speedway, and Oakshade Raceway July 13th-15th. The team will close out 2023 in the State of Michigan in September with the final Allstar Performance Late Model Challenge Series event (9/1-9/3) at Tri City, Rolling Thunder (9/8–9/9) at Thunderbird Raceway, and the Great Lakes Nationals (9/16–9/16) at Crystal.
Whether it’s considered a comeback season, or a fresh start with a new team, Brandon Thirlby will be one of the drivers to keep an eye on throughout the year.
To keep up with everything the team has going on for 2023, Brandon Thirlby Racing on Facebook is the place to find the full schedule and much more.
Story - Rich Frantz
Photo - Randy Ellen