Trouble Maker. When you hear those words you may have a set picture in your mind of what someone or something you may know looks like. Even though the name is not the name of the car or the person, it seems fitting once he mentioned the quasi nickname. Brandon Mork is the owner and driver of the 2003 twin turbo Cobra.
Brandon was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of the Chicago Illinois area. He now resides in Crystal Lake with his wife Ashley and their son Landon. Growing up he was always around some pretty cool cars. His dad was a gearhead from the very beginning. His father has built a 1972 Corvette and a 1972 split bumper Camaro. He began building the cars when Brandon was 8 and finished when he was 13. Although the cars were pretty to look at, they weren’t really used to their racing potential. Brandon’s dad is a hardcore Chevy guy, and he is a hardcore Ford guy. He adds that his push towards the Ford world was from his friends growing up and that push towards the Mustang life. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the old style of the Chevy’s, but the newer stuff I am Ford all day long”. At 16 years old he wanted a 1995 Mustang GT, he needed a co-signer for the car and his parents agreed, under a set rule-following. Brandon denied these rules, and grandpa came to the rescue. After grandpa signed those papers it was full speed ahead in the Ford speed life. “I have a 1997 Cobra that is m regular car, but I also have a beater that I drive because I don’t want to put the miles on the Cobra, and I don’t want to drive it in the winter or bad weather”.
Families always play an important role in any driver’s life. Brandon is no different. “My family thinks it’s pretty cool with what I do, especially over the past few years of vamping it up. My dad goes to races when he can and my mom is a gearhead as well. She loves it, but still worries, at the end of the day, she’s still my mom”. It’s great to have the groundwork set for you from your family growing up, it’s even better when the family you made is into it as well.
Brandon’s wife also got bit by the racing bug a few years back and she began racing as well. “She’s great, sometimes I think she is more into it than I am”. His wife has a 2017 twin turbo Mustang GT streetcar and has been killing it in the driving game. “She wants to drive my car now. The only thing holding her back is that the seat isn’t to spec for her, and we aren’t using foam like she suggested to make it happen. I have full trust in her to drive it though”.
Brandon’s son is also into the cars and adrenaline world. He is 11 years old and loves BMX and football with his friends. Brandon is known for being a bit of a smart mouth. He calls like he sees it and takes no BS no matter who you are. “I have a wild side and a short temper, but it really isn’t as bad as it used to be”. Coming from the Chicago area and being kind of distant from the more well-known races and drivers there are some close-nit rivalries in the home state drag strips. However, War of the Woods seems to be a name we keep hearing. War in the Woods is an event that is held at Brown County Dragway in Morgantown, Indiana. “I love the style of racing more so than the places. I love NoPrep obviously. Tree side NoPrep is my favorite. The sketchiest event ever is War in the Woods. I was runner-up to Ryan Mitchell at that event. It is such a badass environment”.
Just like most people Brandon has a job that keeps him very busy. He runs big machines in construction. That takes up a lot of time in the warmer months but luckily he can work it out with his companies so he can participate in the weekend racing. The struggle is almost always the same with most of the drivers. Working hard to make the dream happen and stay alive. “About 3 years ago we decided to take driving more seriously. We decided to sell our boat and buy a serious motor for the car. We kept building and adding to the car, to make it all really happen for us”. With the insight and help from the other drivers who are seasoned veterans in the sport, Brandon was able to make it through his first season of racing. Year after year he did better and better. “Our second year we did pretty decent and won a few races, then after that year, we won a few more. This year we are hoping to keep that number climbing”. It isn’t always race, race, race with Bandon and his family, his 11-year-old son Landon plays football and enjoys BMX biking. Also, he started going to the gym daily and began lifting. “It makes me feel better even when I don’t want to do it, and it takes out some aggression too”. If they weren’t racing and didn’t sell their boat to make this racing dream come true you’d most likely find the family on the lakes in the Ozarks.
The age-old question is always asked Strip or Street. The answer always varies and the reasons for each are just as different. With Brandon, it’s a combo of an answer. “I used to always prefer the street. Now it’s the drag strip, it’s less BS. I prefer an overall shoot-out. There is no arguing over things with it, it’s just pure racing. Thanks to Limpy we got some Cash Days going. There’s just something about showing up at the race track with your family and racing your race”. At his local track, he was able to be humbled and honored with his skills at the same time. “We have this Anarchy event back home, it used to be called King of the Streets. I was never able to win it. Now I have won it four times in a row”. Each driver has their own favorite victories and stories to tell the learning curves that happen over their years and different experiences. Brandon was nervous but went out of his comfort zone and pulled off one heck of a victory for himself. “We were in Indy at the Lucas Oil Stadium. We raced and won the small tire no prep class. The next day we decided to give it a shot and step out of our element. We put on drag radials and somehow we won that as well. Since then we have never looked back”.
This is rarely a sport that can be done alone. In fact, it is borderline impossible to do alone. The day-to-day maintenance is mostly Brandon in the garage and Dave Klaput is a huge help from Performance Racing Transmissions. “He’s very intelligent and helps figure things out. Clinton helps with the motor, Wisconsin Race Cars sponsor the car and chassis, Anthony DiSomma from New Jersey does my engines”. Racing and testing the car is a competitive sport, but it is also about fun and family. Keeping a small circle is sometimes the best way to keep your happiness and the purity of the sport. With Brandon, his group of friends and other drivers formed a group for just that. 247 Motorsports. It’s to be said 24/7. It is a group of 4-7 cars that race with Brandon and his family. They are each on different levels and different styles of racing. “It is just our little racing family. We travel together to some races and help each other out. It’s good to have a group of people you can count on and trust”. Every weekend Brandon and his “family” travel at least 4 hours in one direction to get to a race. The most was 15 hours. Although he and his family debate about moving farther south to help them out in their travel he says, “It is worth the drive because I get better by surrounding myself with faster people, and better people, not those who bring others down and cry about it. Making a distant race to build me and my skills up is what I have to do”.
“Seeing others with more knowledge under their belt, it’s insightful for me. At the end of the day, you aren’t going to win them all, but you learn from that and get better for next time. You can show up to any race track, people are learning who they are and they are not there to mess around” The fan base in any sport is what keeps it alive and these drivers know it. Without the fans, the drag strip bleachers would be empty and the sport would die, once again. This new life that has been given to the art of drag racing cannot fade away. Each driver and teammate values and appreciates their fans no matter the magnitude of their following. “The fans are great, they come to the pits and talk and check out the car. I am always so busy getting things ready or packing up, I feel so bad that I have to always been in crunch time and I don’t get to talk to everyone, but I appreciate everyone that comes to us. Although my wife most likely has more fans than I do. She’s very personable, and always around the pits to talk to everyone when I can’t”.
The best track ranked by Brandon is Crossville Dragway in Crossville Tennessee. The owner Michael Newcome is super welcoming and willing to help you out as best he can. “The track is badass, and the environment is badass, and so is the owner. There aren’t many tracks that will let you test your car all night”. There is also the hometown nostalgia that hits just right with Brandon. “It’s crazy to say, but War in the Woods is one of my favorites because it is the sketchiest. It’s a wonderful nightmare. There is grass in between the lanes and on the side. There are only guardrails and hay bales, and for some reason I just love it”. If there is anything that some fame has shown us all is that we never know the full story in people’s lives. “People think I am real unapproachable, but I really am friendly and helpful. I love helping to teach others what I learned. I want to pass on what I was taught to others. I’m not really a jerk with a hothead. I hope at the end of the day that my son will remember me as a good father, and his parents spent a lot of time with him. . I’ve seen some cool father-son duos driving and racing together and I want that for us in the future, oh and a good husband”.
Shenanigans go hand in hand with most drivers and their experiences at a track or en-route to an event. It is usually the overnight stories that get the most claim to fame. Late at night on a Friday, Brandon has been known to take the heavy-duty machines and use them as pit vehicles, batcos, mini excavators, you name it. He even tried and was successful at putting out some people’s fire pits during this particular heist of machinery. The following day, “I was sitting at the line ready to go and the announcer made an announcement “make sure nobody leaves their power on or keys in their vehicle, because Mork will take it”, this is why they should make different keys for these machines.
A huge thanks go out to all who have helped Brandon get to where he is today and who help him continually grow and learn in the process. He would like to thank first and foremost his wife and son Ashley and Landon Mork. Glenn from Billet Specialties. Matt Lindsey with Wisconsin Race Cars. Bill Devine with Bullseye Turbo Chargers. Dave Klaput from Performance Racing Transmissions. Pete Nichols from Hughes Converter. Ron G. from After Work Shocks. Anthony DiSomma from DiSomma Racing Engines. Stickerdude Designs. Last but not least, all the boys from 247 Motorsports.
As adults, we shouldn’t have to be reminded that we can’t always judge by a glance or what we hear, but rather by what we know as fact. Brandon Mork is as friendly and real as they come. I do not doubt that he will continue rising up in the ranks of both his car and popularity. Perhaps even Ashley may surpass him. The Mork family should never be underestimated.
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Photo Credits: FOLLOW Nick Manchen from Manchen Motorsports Media @ManchenMotorsportsMedia