RPW Column: Veteran Racer Brian Berger & Phaze 3 Racing Set To Tackle DIRTcar Nationals
Column By: STEPHEN DURHAM / RPW – CASTLETON, NY – In 2022, towards the end of the season Brian Berger announced he would be stepping away full-time weekly racing, but didn’t say he was done racing just yet.
After Brian and his wife retired this past December, they had planned to be down in Florida for the winter to enjoy the start of retirement.
Berger’s crew chief, Jeff Dean since the race season ended in 2022, has continued to be motivated in getting Brian back out there in the 60 Bicknell big block modified. Dean has been the spark plug in this trip coming together for the team, the first trip back to Volusia since 2012.
“Our team has been preparing for two months, and most of the guys are coming down,” Berger explains, “we had just bought a whole driveline from the transmission to the rear end into our Lebanon Valley car right before Mr. Dirt and the same motor were rebuilt and ready.”
Berger and his team feel fully prepared for the trip down to Florida next week.
“Lots of prep work on spares and other equipment we will need down here,” Berger says “my Albany Saratoga car and engine is still for sale, but we took the engine, front end and steering box with us to have good spares just in case. This has been a serious effort to go down and be competitive.”
The Castleton, NY veteran says he enjoys getting out on the road with his whole team and has missed doing that.
“We used to travel as a team to race all over, and our road trips were the best,” Brian says, “I’m looking forward to being with the guys for the week and enjoying ourselves. I’ve had some decent success at Volusia in the past.”
Berger’s first trip down to Volusia was back in 2000, and his second trip being eleven years ago back in 2012.
“In 2000, I ran 4th deep into a race on a rubbered down track only to get tangled up with a lap car at the end” Berger says, “In 2012, we made every race and ran in the top 15 each night.”
Brian who enjoys his retirement time now on iRacing, racing in the BRP Racing Series, has also been using that platform to help freshen himself since being there in 2012.
“Hoping my many laps at Volusia on iRacing will help bridge the gap from my time away” Brian says “it’s a fast track, but once you get comfortable driving it into turn 3 on the gas, you’ll start getting faster.”
Berger has been thankful for the help and guidance from Randy Williamson at Bicknell and Joe Matthews at Fox to help get him situated and set up properly for the Florida trip.
“A lot depends on the weather and track conditions, but hopefully we make the right adjustments and find good speed quickly,” Berger explained.
Coming off a season where Berger was back in victory lane, winning the JC Flach Memorial in June, and had an spectacular run going at Mr Dirt in September until being tangled up in an incident late. Berger has set expectations of having a strong showing at Volusia.
“Our goals for this trip include qualifying for each race and running in the top 10 a night or two” Berger says, “mainly we just want to have fun together as a team. Good runs will just be gravy on top of that.”
As for the rest of the year for those wanting to see the Phaze 3 Racing Team and Brian back on the track, he plans to possibly be back at select races this year in the Northeast and New York.
“ We are taking it month to month. We used to go to Hagerstown races every year from 1989-2013,” Berger says “so when we heard Brett Deyo was having a race there again, we all got excited about going back once more. So if all goes well at Volusia, we are planning on going to Hagerstown in March. If we have to buy American Racers for Hagerstown, maybe we can find another STSS race or two that our big block would work at.”
Berger and his Phaze 3 Racing Team do plan on possibly visiting their home tracks of Albany-Saratoga and Lebanon Valley in 2023.
“I’d say we might do the Super DIRTCar Series races at Lebanon Valley and Albany Saratoga,” Berger explains, “but we’ll see what everyone wants to do when the warmer weather comes back up north. Our plan is really open ended at this point, we just want flexibility to pick and choose as a team where we go and how often we race. ”
Brian is especially thankful for all on his team and supporters for continuing to have the opportunity to race.
“Want to say thank you to my crew, Jeff, Tom, Dobbs, Kevin, Darvin and Sean for all their help preparing for this trip and to Scott Hamlin at SHR Speed & Supply for letting us use his truck to pull our trailer down. Thanks to Williams & Kingsley Auto, John’s Tractor, Jeff Walter at Snap On Tools, Randy Williamson and Joe Matthews for all your support for this effort,” Berger thankful says.
Racing kicks off next Wednesday, February 15th at Volusia.