By Mary Lendzion
Brian Keep raced a handful of hot rods before climbing into the Camaro he campaigns now several years ago.
And, the Floridian who is eternally focused on winning has been exceptional in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street in the car featuring a small-block Chevrolet engine which Hameetman Racing Engines machined and he assembled and paired with a ProCharger F-1A-91, RPM Transmissions-built Turbo 400 and Ultimate Converter Concepts converter.
Keep also consistently looks for ways to coax more and more horsepower from his combination, and that helped him come out swinging at the first NMCA event of the season, the 18th Annual NMCA Muscle Car Mayhem presented by Holbrook Racing Engines in March at Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. There, he set the pace in qualifying with a 4.525 and 154.05 mph, secured elapsed-time and top speed records with those times and settled into the Aerospace Components Winner’s Circle with a 4.54.
Keep, who owns AC Keepers and Grade Keepers, then qualified in the fifth spot with a 4.74 and made it all the way to the semifinal round of eliminations before being forced to get out of the throttle at the 12th Annual Scoggin-Dickey Parts Center NMRA/NMCA All-Star Nationals in June at Atlanta Dragway.
While he wasn’t able to attend the Nitto Tire NMRA/NMCA Super Bowl of Street-Legal Drag Racing presented by HPJ Performance in early August at World Wide Technology Raceway in Illinois, he was ready to rock at the NMRA/NMCA All-American Nationals presented by Force Engineering in late August at U.S. 131 Motorsports Park in Michigan. There, in the Great Lakes State, he set the pace in NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street with a super-quick 4.66, but ran into trouble and had to lift in the second round of eliminations.
With dogged determination, he dove into the final event of the season, the 19th Annual Nitrous Supply NMCA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance in September at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana. He set the pace in qualifying again, this time with a 4.64 in the full field of fierce competition, and while he exited eliminations in the second round when he had to get off of the gas pedal, his passion and power throughout the season had already helped him secure the 2020 NMCA Edelbrock Xtreme Street championship.
“It was not a stellar year, but we got the job done,” said Keep, who also wrapped up a 2020 championship in the Vortech Superchargers Ultra Street Shootout. “We qualified number one at three out of four NMCA races we were in this year, and gained enough points to become champion.”
While the Coronavirus pandemic prevented NMCA from having its annual ceremony to celebrate champions, each was invited to share the words they would have shared on stage in front of their fellow racers, family and friends.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE EARNED A CHAMPIONSHIP DURING SUCH AN UNUSUAL SEASON?
It was a very unusual season due to COVID-19, but we had a good year that started out with a record and a win at Bradenton Motorsports Park, and going rounds at Atlanta Dragway.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU OVERCAME ON YOUR WAY TO EARNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
The biggest challenge we overcame this year was the heat and tricky tracks. We did well in qualifying, but not so much on race day. We overcame by having just enough points to win.
WHICH FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS WOULD YOU LIKE TO THANK FOR SUPPORTING YOU ALONG THE WAY?
I would like to thank my daughter, Samantha, for putting up with my passion for racing and my being away to race for my dreams, and Kyle Pruitt, my right-hand man and best friend.
WHICH SPONSORS WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACKNOWLEDGE?
We have to thank HRE Racing Engines, Daryl Hameetman, ProCharger, Walt Sipp, Diamond Pistons, Mike Panetta, Total Seal Engine Rings, Kevin Studaker, R&R Rods, Cory Greenwell, Haltech Engine Management, Victor Contrerar, All Pro Cylinder Heads, Bob Williams, Mickey Thompson Tires, Tom Kundrik, my crew chief, Tim Travis, dad, Eddie Travis, VP Racing Fuels, Jason Rueckert, Manton Pushrods, Latozke Racing Heads, Lee Latozke, Line2Line Coatings, Brian Neal, Menscer Motorsports and Mark Menscer.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT RACING IN NMCA EDELBROCK XTREME STREET?
Racing in NMCA Xtreme Street has been lots of fun, but also challenging. I can’t wait for next year.