BenBray

aka The Kid

Ben Bray was bought up on the family tomato farm just north of Brisbane in Queensland. Despite having a typical farming upbringing in his early years, with Victor Bray for a father and spending most weekends at Drag Strips, growing tomatoes was probably an unlikely future for young Benny. As a farm boy all things mechanical and the need to repair them were a part of daily life. Then at the age of 10 Ben wanted to go junior dragster racing and pestered his Mum and Dad until he did just that.

A series of junior dragsters followed and by the age of 12 Ben was handling all the engine building and modifications to his dragsters with an inkling of things to come in that he wanted Dad’s advice but wanted to do it all "HIS" way. Some success was seen during these years including Ben's most memorable win at Canberra Dragway where Ben won the junior dragster nationals against almost 50 of Australia's best JD teams. The junior dragster program taught Ben about the importance of reaction times and start line procedure and the experience of doing hundreds of passes over those years and being his own crew chief seemed to have set him a good base for his future racing.

At the age of 17 junior dragster racers must give up their license and look towards their future without their much loved dragsters. When Ben knew this was coming he had already been his Dad's crew chief on the Doorslammer for a couple of years - handling not only the between round maintenance but also becoming the main clutch man both in maintenance and calling the shots on setup. Ben "COLLECTED" many parts over the last year or so of his junior racing career - as the team was updating he would claim the parts telling his Dad he needed the parts for "HIS "Doorslammer and had quite a collection of race parts with about half the parts required to put an engine and gearbox combination together. At about this time the team's customline Doorslammer was returned to the team after being on loan to Lucky Belleri and Ben automatically claimed the race car as his.

Victor thought it was "NICE" that Benny had taken an interest in driving a Doorslammer and figured it would probably happen sometime in the next year or so. Just how wrong can one guy be?? Over the next couple of months Ben worked hard on the old man to give up enough parts so he could have his Doorslammer ready for his licensing as soon as he was 17. Victor added to Ben's collection of parts and gave him the use of the customline and shortly Ben had his own Doorslammer and was ready to go racing. Victor and Marie had reservations about all this happening so fast but there was no stopping young Benny and he got all the support he needed from them. At this stage Victor thought it was nice that Ben had got this far so soon but continually kept reminding him how hard it was going to be just to qualify, cautioning him to not get his hopes up too high.

He needn’t have worried - Ben went through the licensing procedure for a group 1 Top Doorslammer license and got it with the quickest licensing pass ever. He went on to enter the next event in a DYO class to get some experience, actually making the field in supercharged outlaws. He was eliminated in the first round but had a ball in the process. The first major event Ben entered was the Australian Nationals, an event his father had won only once the year before after 16 years of trying. Victor and Marie were still concerned about Ben running a Doorslammer and were tentative about him jumping in the deep end at such a big event – again, they needn’t have worried. To this point, Victor had qualified for every event he had ever fronted for in his Doorslammer and it just so happened that at this particular race Victor broke his streak and didn't qualify for the first time in his career.

However, the family name was still on the qualifying sheets as #8 read Ben Bray for the first time ever. And in a fairy-tale race meet for the youngster, he not only made his way through eliminations but actually won the Australian Nationals event - making him the youngest winner ever of a national championship event anywhere in the world at 17 years and 2 months. Over the remainder of the season Ben had limited success but little did the other Doorslammer teams or his Dad for that matter realize that Ben's early success was just a sign of things to come.

The following season Ben updated to his Dad's "OLD" race car and during licensing for the 57 Chevy ran again the quickest licensing pass ever with a 6.17 second ET. Ben also secured Supercheap Autos as his major sponsor and in the 2002/2003 season became the Australian National Top Doorslammer Champion - setting a new benchmark as the youngest ever winner of a professional national Drag Racing championship anywhere in the world. The following season (2004) Ben finished 2nd in the championship after two DNFs with mechanical breakages which didn't allow him to finish either event.

Ben went on to win the 2004/2005 championship in Top Doorslammer and then in 2005/2006 season Ben set his sights on the Top Alcohol Funny car class. He again set new precedents in Australian Drag racing by winning the National Championship and resetting the TA/FC record to a 5.52 sec @ 259 mph which has only ever been beaten by 1/1000th of a second.

In November of 2006 Ben was involved in a serious workplace accident which saw him unable to compete for several months. Castrol, who had been Team Bray's major sponsor for many years focused on Ben's ability for the next several years with limited success due mainly to Ben's slow recovery from the back injury he received in the accident. Tyre shake, restricted movement when strapped in a race car and climbing in and out of the funny car became difficult so Ben dropped the funny car and continued to race the Doorslammer.

Ben still wasn't able to slow down and although he wasn't able to run the funny car wanted to compete where ever he could in the sport. Ben has another love and that is his beloved Datsun. Ben needed somewhere to compete that didn't stress his back getting in and out of. He purchased an unfinished Datsun Ute drag car project and added the Ben Bray touch to it with a turbo charged SR20 engine among numerous modifications. MR 1200 as it to become known won several events and ended up carding a best of 7.9 seconds @ 178 mph. All Ben wanted from the Datto was a 7 second time card so once he had that in hand he is now concentrating on his next Datsun project that is a 1200 coupe with a much more potent ' all billet' SR 20 engine fitted. Ben has had to do most of the research himself and knows he has plenty of track time in front of him before he reaches the goals he has set for this one.

Ben also drove for other teams in the PRO FX category with much success. He drove the GAS motor sport Toyota Scion for a season ending up winning the championship and followed by other drives for teams at various events.

In 2011, a major change for Team Bray and beyond was the departure of long-time major sponsor Castrol when their marketing focus changed. Despite the change in direction for the company, Castrol continued to sponsor Team Bray as a supporting partner until 2016, making it the longest running motorsport sponsorship in Australian history.

While it was a big shift, SIDCRHOME – the manufacturer of Australia's favourite mechanics tools – soon became the major sponsor of Team Bray after having already sponsored the team for more than 10 years by supplying their great products to the team. Over the coming years, Ben made a true mark on the emerging Factory Xtreme category, setting a world record not once, but twice, and becoming a true ‘man to beat’ in a Nissan Altima, while also making a return to Top Doorslammer and competing against his father and a number of the country’s Doorslammer elite in the Slamfest Series - taking home a number of event victories.

Unfortunately, in 2014, he would suffer a major incident in this race car at the Winternatonals - Ben's Nissan Altima hit the track wall of Willowbank Raceway and rolled, with the three-time ANDRA champion transferred to hospital in a stable condition where he remained for 10 days with back and rib injuries until given the all clear by doctors to continue his recovery at home while fitted with a full body brace which restricted his movement as he embarked on a strict rehabilitation program over the coming months.

Benny had been due to make his come-back at Willowbank’s Santo’s Super 3 Extreme Drag Race event presented by Uplift Cranes and Titan Cranes in April, but that event was unfortunately cancelled due to the extreme weather experienced by South East Queensland that weekend. That cancellation saw the team’s focus turn to Sydney’s Nitro Champs instead, but in an incredible turn of events that event too was cancelled due to poor weather conditions – seeing his return shifted to the very same event at the very same venue almost 12 months to the day from his accident.

In true Benny Bray style, not only did ‘the kid’ qualify for his first Doorslammer meeting back in the seat, but went all the way to the finals 12 months to the day from his accident. While placing runner-up to Zappia, Bray impressed all with the support and attention from the fans and the media truly at an almost overwhelming level all weekend long.

From there, Ben has been on a full-tilt drive to make it back to the pointy end of drag racing and with a new era now on the horizon, his desire to win more national championships is stronger than ever.

This new era is thanks to an exciting new partnership announced in late 2016 with leading lubricants company Gulf Western Oil. The company has thrown its support behind Team Bray Racing, signing on as a full naming rights sponsor of a five-car campaign for the next three years. Gulf Western Oil is the largest Australian-owned manufacturer of lubricants in Australia with OEM approved formulations and is ISO 9001 quality endorsed. It has a comprehensive distributor network throughout Australia, India, Vietnam, China, PNG, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Kiribati and Samoa, offering an extensive range of products including diesel engine oils, petrol engine oils, hydraulic oils, gear lubricants, transmission fluids, grease, aerosols, coolants and cleaners. With the sponsorship covering not only the two Team Bray Doorslammers, but also two burnout cars, and a new Sport Compact Toyota Solara for Ben, while plans are also in the works for a new Murray Anderson-built car for Victor.

With this major arrangement signalling a new era in the history of Team Bray, you can be sure Ben will be fired up and chasing the ultimate success in 2017.


 

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