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Brian Forrester Attends NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis for 50 Straight Years

It was an emotional weekend for Florida resident Brian Forrester, who attended his 50th consecutive NHRA U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. He has been attending every year since 1969, when he was only four years old.

Larry and Brian (center) following Brian’s win in Super Gas in 2009

Larry and Brian (center) following Brian’s win in Super Gas in 2009

Brian’s father, Larry Forrester, began the tradition of attending Indy every year after he realized how much Brian loved to watch racing. “He sat there for three straight days—we would only leave our seats to go to the bathroom,” Larry commented. “He was mesmerized by it. When I told him it was over and time to go home, he actually cried and said he wasn’t ready.”

And just like that, a tradition was born. The Forrester family began attending Indy over Labor Day weekend every year, and did so for many years together. In 1977, Larry decided he was interested in racing himself, and began competing in bracket racing in Illinois. Due to his father's racing schedule, Brian's mother, Nancy, took him to Indy that year. "For her to take me that year was really cool," he said. "I would have never been able to make it to 50 if she hadn't done that for me." Brian also got the racing bug—going so far as to write in his high school yearbook that his dream was to win the nationals one day at Indianapolis. He began racing in the NHRA Super Gas category in 1989. From that year until 2010, Brian attended Indy every year as a competitor.

Brian earned a Super Gas national championship in 2008, and in 2009—after having been to the finals twice, once in Super Gas and once in Super Comp—Brian finally achieved his dream of winning at Indy in the Super Gas category. It was the win he had dreamed about since he was a child, and his father was there—cheering him on, just as he always had. Brian’s mother, Nancy, wasn’t able to attend—but surprised him by arranging for a limo to take him to the awards banquet. “She was so proud of Brian,” Larry said. “She cried for days, she was so happy for him.”

After finally achieving his dream, Brian decided to retire from racing in order to spend more time with his family—his wife, Robin, and their two children. “I give him credit for that,” Larry said, in reference to Brian’s choice to leave the sport. Brian continued working in the racing industry for some time, building racecars, before transitioning into a career at an automobile repair company. Still, without fail, he returned to Indy over Labor Day weekend each year.

Larry and Brian Forrester at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Larry and Brian Forrester at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Nancy, Brian’s mother, passed away in 2014 after a long battle with breast cancer. “A friend told me that she thought Nancy would be very proud of us,” Larry commented, “And that she would be so happy to see us attending this milestone event together. We couldn’t have done it without her.”

And so, this past weekend was a watershed moment for both Larry and Brian—a landmark half a century in the making. “We definitely took advantage of every minute we were there,” commented Brian. “It was a wonderful weekend…it brought back so many memories,” added Larry. “I was very moved. I feel so blessed to have been able to do that with Brian, because we’ve spent so much time together. He’s my best friend. To share that experience with my son has been one of the highlights of my life.”

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