Heart of a Lion – Detroit drag racer Brian Olatunji is gunning for the top spot and has the courage to prove it.
Original Article by Marcus Amick
After seeing his lifelong dream of becoming a professional drag racer come true two years ago, 28-year-old Brian Olatunji now has his eyes set on snagging an NHRA U.S. National Championship. RIDES recently caught up with Olatunji in between one of his 175 mph track runs to learn what drives a kid—who grew up in the inner city of Detroit—to chase one of motorsport’s most coveted titles.
What inspired you to become a drag racer? My grandfather, John Broaden, was the first African- American manager of a major NHRA drag strip. I decided to take the road less traveled: racing. When did you first start racing? When I was 15. My folks knew the people who ran Milan Dragway in Michigan. I had an ’89 Chevy Beretta and would take it out on the racetrack.
What was the biggest challenge you faced turning pro? Balancing the demands of the business, working with corporate sponsors like Pepsi, Lucas Oil and the U.S. Army, while staying competitive on the track.
So what does a typical practice day consist of? Wake up, hit the gym and work out. At the track, it’s typically testing different parts to make sure everything is working in perfect harmony.
How do you mentally prepare for a race? Focusing on the perfect run—you have to have a mental picture of it.
You think it’ll be tough to win an NHRA national title? It’s the most prestigious race in drag racing, so the stakes are high. But it’s something that I do expect to win in my career.