Spills and thrills keep Bullerman coming back for more
ADRIAN -- For decades, recently deceased Jim McKay hosted ABC's "Wide World of Sports" -- the popular Saturday television program that scanned the globe and opened with the memorable line: "Bringing you the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."
Adrian's first-year stock car racer Brandon Bullerman readily admits to "fitting the bill" to that description.
"I have had my share of spills and thrills," Bullerman said. "Just in the past three weeks, I have rolled my car twice, but I won my first race -- and I really liked that feeling."
Competing in the sportsman class at Luverne June 14, Bullerman won his first ever race as a stock car driver.
Driving his 1987 Buick Regal faster than his competitors, the 21-year old Bullerman grabbed the lead on the third lap and kept it until the finish.
"I took the turns better that night than I usually do," Bullerman recalled. "Luverne has a shorter track, so the turns come up quicker."
There were 14 cars in that race, and the event was 14 laps long.
"I kind of lost track of the laps," he said. "But when I saw the checkered flag and was still in the lead -- I realized that I had won and beat my neighbors, too."
That was the first time Bullerman had ever finished in front. But as exhilarating as that winning feeling is, it was short-lived. "That night was a double feature," Bullerman said. "So after winning my race, I came back for a second race, but rolled my car for the second time in two weeks."
Undaunted by the rollovers, Bullerman continued his quest for success on the Luverne and Worthington tracks.
But after getting his car back in good enough "body" shape to race again, the young driver experienced engine trouble racing at Luverne June 21.
"Something blew on the third lap," Bullerman said. "Both the carburetor and a valve are shot. I am still working on solving the problem."
Bullerman seems to enjoy the in-between time working on the car as much as the actual racing on weekend nights.
"I enjoy tinkering with motors," said Bullerman, who just graduated this spring from the diesel technology program at Iowa Lakes Community College in Emmetsburg, Iowa.
Bullerman is the oldest of five children in the Delbert and Michelle Bullerman family, which farms with Delbert's brothers on a spread south of Adrian, known as Son-D Farms.
He has four younger siblings: Kayla (18), Brock (16), Macey (13) and Beau (7).
An active athlete in high school, Brandon ran cross country for five seasons and wrestled six years for the Adrian Dragons, tasting success in both sports before graduating in the spring of 2006.
Bullerman was a leader on the Adrian boys' cross country team that finished eighth at the state meet in the fall of 2005. He competed in four state wrestling meets, twice placing sixth individually in the 135-pound class.
"I have always liked to compete," said Bullerman, who began racing cars in enduro competitions when he was just 15. "That was fun, but I never finished very high."
Bullerman did not fare real well, either, in a few stock car races that he entered in 2006.
"I was really a rookie then," he remembered. "I was pretty much back-of-thepack."
After spending last summer in school at Emmetsburg, Bullerman was ready to race when this year's season began.
"My best finish before my win was fifth," he said. "But I like racing at Luverne -- it's a perfect fit for me. I am in my comfort zone there."
So what does the future hold for Bullerman?
"I have every intention of staying in racing," he said. "I need to get more experience. I am a long ways from being ready to compete at something like the Jackson Nationals."
What about the car?
"My car is in rough shape," he admitted. "The frame is bent, and now I am having engine problems.
"I don't know how much abuse it can take. I feel out of place when I race at Worthington because everyone has nice cars there."
But if Bullerman gets his "old beater" up and going again -- or if he gets a newer stock car ready for racing -- he hopes to have more thrilling moments up near the front of more races.
"One way or another, I will be racing," Bullerman concluded
After all, the Adrian farm boy has tasted the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in his first season on both the Luverne and Worthington tracks.