Evans City's Spithaler climbing racing's ladder
It is said that in each of us there is an explorer’s heart; a need to learn more, discover more and do more. Evans City Sprint driver Brandon Spithaler is a prime example of this.
Since the age of 2, he has been watching auto races with his father, Frank. During the weekends, they traveled to Sprint races in both Western and Eastern PA.
At the age of 12, Brandon decided that he wanted to learn to drive and began racing go-karts from 2003-2006. He garnered 28 feature wins out of 99 starts.
He then made the decision to compete in Limited Sprints at Sharon Speedway from 2007-2009. Brandon was awarded the Sharon 2007 Limited Sprint Rookie of the Year and won the 2009 Sharon Limited Sprint track Championship.
He said: “It was really helpful with the Limited Sprints because 410 Sprint cars are really very much the same — except for the power. It got you acclimated to the car and how to actually drive one. Then it gets you ready to deal with more power.”
In 2010, he moved up to a partial season in the big league 410 Sprints as he graduated from Butler High School. It has been full-time competition since 2011. He picked No. 22 for his number because he admired World of Outlaws Sprint driver Jac Haudenschild (nicknamed the “Wildchild”), who raced the Pennzoil #22.
He won his first feature at Mercer Raceway in 2010 and has garnered 20 main events to date, combining both the winged and non-winged Sprint features. His mother, Paula, watches him race only occasionally because it stresses her to see him compete.
Brandon captured the Lernerville 410 Sprint Championship in 2013 and he also commuted daily to Youngstown State University. He later graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering and Math. Currently, he is a sales engineer at Fluid Sealing International in Coraopolis.
In 2017 and 2018, Brandon became restless and decided not to run for track champion points any more.
He said: “I don’t want to chase points, mostly because I don’t want to get stuck ‘knowing’ just two tracks. I want to diversify myself as a driver.”
He was looking for higher payoffs, too. So he set sail and joined the professional All Star Sprint Circuit of Champions, running 50 shows in various states while working full time.
“What set me apart from most drivers is my determination to persevere through the hard times. It teaches resilience on and off the track,” he said.
His best All Star feature finish is a third and his goal is to catch that elusive feature victory this season. Brandon not only drives the car, but does the set-ups too.
“It forces you to learn fast from your mistakes,” he said.
He was seventh in points in 2017 and eighth in 2018. His pit crew consists of his dad, Tom Burkey, Dave Steiner, and fiancée Nikita Burke.
“I have to thank them for letting me drag them all over the country, despite having a strict diet of truck stop food and track grub, and also my sponsors for supporting me. I would not be where I am today without them,” Spithaler said.
He does prefer a steak dinner, though!
Last year, Brandon and the crew decided to cap their All Star traveling distance to a four-hour window and race locally, too. He may have a chance to see his retired grandparents, Rose and Frank Spithaler, compete in the Bus races at Lernerville where they are winners! His second cousin is the famous Sprint driver Ralph Spithaler.
In the future, Brandon would like to have an opportunity to earn a competitive ride. Until then, he hopes to be as consistent as possible in his Triple X Chassis and keep climbing that learning curve!
Carol Gamble is a racing columnist for the Butler Eagle.