Bruce Brantley: “A Complete Racer”

The Blue Angel

Brantley poses with P.D. Loudermilk's "Blue Angel".

By 1962, Brantley was driving a super modified at the Peach Bowl for the late P.D. Loudermilk, owner of the Buckhead Cab Company and a local convenience store in Chamblee.  Though racing Georgia ovals such as Banks County, Rome, Dallas, LaGrange and Athens, it was a track in Cleveland, Tennessee where disaster stuck out her ugly tongue.

“I was driving a Skeeter called the Blue Angel that Mr. Loudermilk owned,” Brantley said.  “It was the same car Harold Corbin had driven in 1961.  Anyway, T.C. Hunt, who was in my mirror, said he knew what was going on because my wheels were locked and I never let off the gas.  The injectors had stuck and I slammed headfirst into the wall, an spent the next two weeks in the hospital.”

A couple of months later he was back at it again, this time at the old Alcoa Speedway in Knoxville, and again driving the Blue Angel.

“This time my steering broke,” he said.  “So right then I figured enough of these stripped down buggies and decided to go with the bigger cars.  That is when I built my first ’55 Chevrolet.”

Bruce’s friend and employer, Jack Childs of Chamblee Carburetion and Electric Company, decided to put some money in racing.  Between his money, their mechanical skills, and talent for putting together a team, things synchronized.  Racing through the Carolinas, Georgia and Tennessee, they were a team to be observed and reckoned with.

In 1965, during a tour through the Carolinas, they were observed a little too much.

Brantley's Chevy that NASCAR officials payed close attention to in 1965. Photo courtesy GARHOFA

“I had won at Columbia, South Carolina, when NASCAR official Pete Keller warned me about using a roller cam,” Brantley said.  “Well, the next week at Harris Speedway in North Carolina, Rex White won the race and I finished a close second, with Jack Ingram a couple of laps down in third.  Keller came up and said he heard those rollers and demanded to see a tappet out of both Rex’s car and mine.  Needless to say, Ingram was given the victory.”

According to another longtime friend and mechanic, Johnny Waddell, it was around this time Bruce had another embarrassing moment.

“T.C. Hunt and Bruce were racing in Newnan, Georgia one weekend,” Waddell said.  “The track’s first and second turn was dug out of an embankment, so you had a natural guardrail several feet high.  Like most speedways, it was either muddy or dusty.  Some young men were standing too close as the two drivers would sling dirt on them, but they all loved it.  The track dried out and Bruce won.  He decided on the victory lap to give the boys one more thrill, so he slung the car in the turn to spray ‘em again, but his rear fender snagged the bank and turned the car over.  So there your winner is, upside down on the track.”

Richard Davis said the promoter ran over to see if he as okay and ask what happened.  Thinking quickly upside down, Bruce told him someone had said he would get an extra $100 for a hell-driving exhibition.

“Never saw a guy stammer and get away as fast as he did,” Davis added.

Sue said someone had walked up to her dad and asked, “Hey, isn’t that driver your son-in-law?”  “No,” Dub told them, “I don’t know who the hell that is.”

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