Brody Roa Teams With Tommy and Christy Dunkel for the 2023 Sprint Car Season
When the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars Series kicks off its 24th season of racing at Brad Whitfield’s Cocopah Speedway this Friday and Saturday, January 27th and 28th, longtime fans are going to be in for a big surprise. When the first green flag flies to begin the new campaign, veteran racer Brody Roa will not be in his familiar bright green #91R. For 2023, Roa’s BR Performance is joining forces with Tom and Christy Dunkel and he will steer a white #17R throughout the year.
Left to right: Joe Gobb, crew chief Zac Bozanich, Brody Roa and Brett Roa after a 2022 Perris win. Doug Allen photo.
Last year Roa, who turns 32 years old on Wednesday, freelanced during the season. The pleasant driver started 37 races on 18 different tracks in four different states. He competed in five different types of cars in seven different sanctioning bodies. Right now for 2023, his plans include the entire 27-race USAC/CRA schedule and four open competition races at the Imperial Valley Raceway. He may also make some starts in the USAC/West Coast Sprint Car Series. Initially, Roa was going to do the usual and race his own car in CRA. And he was going to run as a teammate to Dunkel in the West Coast Series. However, while breaking bread with the Dunkel’s a couple of weeks ago, a drastic change took place.
“We went to dinner about a week and a half ago under the impression we were going to talk about the 360 races I was going to run for them,” Roa said on Sunday night. “I threw something out to them about doing something with the 410 stuff. Him and Christy went back and talked about it. It ended up that they now have the 410s HD (HD Industries) used to have. We are going to run a Tom & Christy Dunkel/Inland Rigging/BR Performance Race Team this year. We just bought a brand new DRC. We got that two weeks ago or maybe less than that. We just finished that up last Wednesday night. We are going to fire it up tomorrow. We sold our Eagles and we have our trailer up for sale. Kind of big changes. I am very excited to represent Tom, Christy, and Inland Rigging running in the new #17R.”
“Man, this is huge,” said car owner Tommy Dunkel who is just as excited as Roa. “Just kind of hearing it out loud for the first time from you, kind of gives me goosebumps. It is a major deal for me. I have grown up watching Major League Sprint Car Racing at Perris my entire life. To be able to be a part of it in our capacity leading up to this year with Brody and a few other drivers has been huge. Now to step things up a bit and become a major player in Brody’s operation is going to be great. To team up with guys like them, who are so good and nice guys in the pits, but they come out swinging every weekend. That is kind of my style. I like to show up and try to win and have nice equipment. Those guys are at the top of their league. To team up with them is really major for me. We are really excited about it.”
“The opportunity just presented itself pretty well.” Dunkel continued. “Brody has always been a great guy to work with. He has been running with Inland Rigging on his car for a handful of years now. He is always a class act. Him, his dad Brett, Zac (crew chief Zac Bozanich), and that whole camp are a great group of guys. They are competitive and they are a force to be reckoned with every Saturday night. That is something I like to be a part of.”
Up until now, the offseason has been anything but normal for Roa and his team. In late December, fans and fellow competitors noticed quite a bit of his equipment up for sale. There were queries wondering if the Garden Grove, California racing star was going to hang up his helmet. The questions intensified earlier in January when his trailer went up for sale. However, to everyone’s relief, he is back and ready for another successful season.
“We sold a chassis & body and a complete roller,” the fan-friendly driver said.” “We put a new DRC together with everything from the chassis we sold. We are basically keeping like one spare of everything. Other than that, everything is up for sale. We have probably got enough to build like 6 cars with everything we have back at the shop besides the big stuff. We have small components we probably had stashed away in that shop for 10 years. We definitely have not sold everything yet.”
The fact that he is switching from an Eagle chassis to a DRC is going to surprise a lot of people. Not competing on the full USAC/CRA schedule in 2022, Roa steered the Eagle to a pair of wins and six top-five finishes. And he finished sixth in the championship point standings despite missing a significant amount of races. Still, he felt he wanted to change.
“I have never driven a DRC before,” Roa confided. “Honestly, it just seems like it is the car that everybody is doing non-wing stuff in right now. I called Ronnie Gardner who works there. I am pretty good friends with Ronnie. I’ve talked to him about it a bit and then Joe Devin, who builds the DRCs, called me. We talked on the phone for probably at least a half an hour. It was pretty cool and that probably helped the decision. Mainly to get back to something that everybody is doing. Everybody has got notes and everybody has parts (for DRC’s). At this point, I think we know what we are doing, but If we get really lost at least there are people we can bounce ideas off of.”
As in the past, Roa will continue to use powerful Shaver Engines.
As always, when the driver known as “The Pride of Garden Grove” has an off week from his local racing commitments, he would be happy to talk with any car owners who desire his services behind the wheel (Roa’s 2023 schedule is listed below).
Roa is very grateful and wanted to be sure to thank departing sponsor HD Industries for years of dedicated support on his #91R car.
“HD has given us so much over the last ten years,” Roa said. “They have been on the side of the car and a huge part of our program for so many years. Without them, we never would have achieved the successes we accomplished. I will always be thankful to Mike, Jim, and HD.”
“I would also like to thank family and friends who are part of our racing effort,” Roa said. “My family Tailor and Addison, parents Brett and Eden, Uncle B, Joe, Zac, Tyler, Tracy, and looking forward to joining family teams with Tom, Christy, and Ava Dunkel.”
Friday and Saturday’s races at Cocopah Speedway – aka “The Diamond in the Desert,” - will be full programs with qualifying, heats, and main events. For fans who would like to attend this weekend’s doubleheader, spectator gates will open at 4:00 p.m. each day with hot laps at 5:30. Qualifying and racing will follow. In addition to the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars, the IMCA Hobby Stocks, IMCA Sport Compacts and mod lights will also be in action. The speedway is located at 3450 W. County 15th Street in Somerton, Arizona (85350). The office phone is 602-292-7607 and the website is http://www.racecocopahspeedway.com/.
For those who cannot make the trek to the “Copper State” track, both nights will be available on pay-per-view at the following link https://speedsport.tv/.
The team wants to thank the following sponsors for making the 2023 season possible. Inland Rigging, Dunkel Farms, United Asset Sales, Osborne Speed & Machine, Sander Engineering, “Biker” Bruce Fischer, ALR Virtual Services, Burris Racing, Caltrol, Competition Suspension, K-1 Race Gear, Molecule, Rod End Supply, Driven Racing Oil, Baldwin Filters, and NGK Spark Plugs.
Brody Roa’s 2023 Schedule and Race Results
January 27 Cocopah Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
January 28 Cocopah Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
March 3 Central Arizona Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
March 4 Central Arizona Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
March 10 Imperial Valley Raceway SoCal Open Comp Non Wing Sprint Cars
March 11 Imperial Valley Raceway SoCal Open Comp Non Wing Sprint Cars
March 18 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
March 24 Keller Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
March 25 Thunderbowl Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
April 1 Mohave Valley Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
April 15 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
April 22 Thunderbowl Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
April 29 Kern County Raceway Park USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
May 6 Mohave Valley Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
May 20 Thunderbowl Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
May 27 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
June 10 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
June 24 Bakersfield Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
July 1 Santa Maria Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
July 15 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
August 12 Santa Maria Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
August 19 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
August 26 TBA USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
September 9 Santa Maria Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
September 23 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
October 14 Mohave Valley Raceway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
October 20 Imperial Valley Raceway SoCal Open Comp Non Wing Sprint Cars
October 21 Imperial Valley Raceway SoCal Open Comp Non Wing Sprint Cars
November 3 Central Arizona Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
November 4 Central Arizona Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
November 11 Perris Auto Speedway USAC/CRA Sprint Cars
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