BRUCE BROMME JR
Bruce Bromme Jr has lived all his life involved in sprint car racing. Born in Southern California in 1951, he just naturally began working with his dad’s race cars. Bruce Sr always built most of his own equipment, so it was a slam dunk for him to do the same thing. Bruce Jr started working on the family race car when he was about eight because he had such small hands he could reach places dad couldn’t on the cars. As a boy he raced a Quarter Midget a couple of times, along with childhood friend, Dean Thompson, but realized it was more fun to practice than race in front of crowds. It was normal to work in the garage with his dad, but he also was into sports and other activities until he was about 16 and then became committed to his life’s work in racing.
His first job in High School was working for Hildabrand and the magnesium wheels that he believes caused his allergic reaction to spores that he still has today. He continued on to work for Louis Senter, Joe Hunt Magnitos, Hughes when his dad retired there, and finally for Ron Shaver until he became self-employed in 1980. When he was 16 he started going to the pits to help his dad. Before that he and Dean use to sneak into Ascot before they were 16, but Rusty Espinoza always caught them and tossed them out. Many famous drivers chauffeured their cars up until ’92, including Paul Jones, Mike Sweeney, Jeff Haywood, John Redican, Bubby Jones, Jerry Meyer and finally Billy Boat. The total for the Bromme owned cars was 146 CRA Main Event wins, with a dozen or more open shows added to that. Dean had 103 of those with CRA for the record that still stands today.
Bruce says that even though the “little red sucker” was well sponsored with engines, wheels and many parts during those 80’s years with Dean driving, they still built their own chassis and created 18 of them in 4 years. While his dad pounded out the body panels for the race cars, Bruce and his mom, Marge, were helpers in holding the metal that became works of art on the now famous and good looking cars. They later used Gambler, Nance and finally Maxim chassis’s before they retired from owning cars in ’92. They both moved to the middle of the state where Bruce Jr and wife Pamela live in Templeton and Marge and Bruce Sr lived in Paso Robles, until Bruce Sr’s death in 1999. His dad was his hero. He also had great respect for Rick Goudy, who came back from serious burns to win a championship.
Bruce Jr won many awards over the years. The first was Co-mechanic of the year with his dad for the CRA championship years of ’80, ’81 and ’82, and then again in ’85 when Dean was sick the last race and only won the car owner championship that season. The duo also received the Outstanding Achievement Award from CRA in 85 for the three years in a row as Champions. When Dean retired in 1985, a number of drivers went through the seat of the “little red sucker”. Bruce Sr said they would just keep throwing them in until they found one that would win again, and that turned out to be Billy Boat. Billy set the Ascot track record of 17.958 that forever remains embedded in the minds of race fans who saw it on the last night before the track closed, and was the only 17 second pass ever at the track.
Bruce Jr came out of retirement when Bob Walker called in ’93. When that ended, Gene Manhire hired him the next season to set-up his wing car. That is where he met Ron Chaffin, who bought Gene’s motors. When Gene retired, Ron wanted to go non-wing racing and Bruce Jr put together a proposal for Lealand McSpadden to drive the car. The red # 50 hit the track at Manzanita for the first time and Ron had no clue who the “hall of famer” was that drove his car that night. He got to know him pretty well as he won the teams first Championship with SCRA that year and then Lealand retired at the end of the season. Richard Griffin came aboard the next year and although he didn’t win a drivers championship for a few years, he managed to win 7 car owner championships in a row, and after a year break for Cory Kruseman’s championship, Richard won two more before he retired. That makes ten car owner championships in eleven years for Bromme/Chaffin and they don’t look done yet.
Bruce Jr won the SCRA Mechanic of the Decade in 2000 for his outstanding results as crew chief of the Chaffin sprinter. He has had unbelievable success with over 60 wins in SCRA under his watch. He has an outstanding crew that include Gary and Mike Tanaka, Eric Kaufmann and many more who continue to put the fastest car on the track most days. He recalls one of his most vivid memories in racing was after winning $12,000 at the Pacific Open in 1985 and was handed the bundle of cash to carry home. He said that was a lot of money to cart around and it made him uneasy.
Bruce still fabricates a lot of parts for the Chaffin car and old Bromme cars who need restoration pieces now and then. He has at least one of the old Bromme’s in his shop waiting to be restored. He always tries to rebuild parts often times instead of just buying new, even though the car owner gives him carte blanch on the care and feeding of the team cars. One of his favorite highlights of his career was when Lealand McSpadden drove their car to 2nd in the Mini Gold Cup at Chico in a wing race. Bruce has a way with drivers and their varied personalities. He probably will be best known for calming Richard Griffin down to win championships instead of going all out every lap like he was known to do. Bruce’s legacy is not over yet as there is more to come, but he will be known as one of the all time best mechanic’s in sprint car history, kinda like Babe Ruth in baseball, because he is a winner.