A Champion is Forever
A Champion is Forever

Brad Doty


By Art Holden

Brad Doty was racing open-wheeled cars on dirt before he ever got his driver’s license.

Even though his days behind the wheel were cut short in an August, 1988 sprint car crash, it didn’t stop the Wayne County native from continuing his legacy as one of the most beloved drivers to ever put on a racing suit.

Doty started racing at the age of 15 in 1973, running a home-built, open-wheeled modified at Lakeville Speedway. It wasn’t long before he started to garner the attention of other drivers and car owners, eventually ascending to the highest level of dirt track racing with a ride in a sprint car.

He picked up his first sprint car feature win in 1978 at Lakeville Speedway, and then really broke through the next year, winning 13 of 16 sprint car races at the Holmes County track to cement his status as a top-tier driver.

Doty went professional in 1980, running the western Pennsylvania circuit, earning track championships at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa., and Tri City Speedway in Franklin, Pa.

Those titles propelled Doty even further up the sprint car charts as it earned him a seat in the All-Star Circuit of Champions tour the following season, where he won Rookie of the Year honors, and followed that up in 1982 with World of Outlaws and Knoxville Nationals ROY accolades.

Over the next six years, Doty drove for several different owners, earning wins from California to Florida, and even raced three winters in Australia.

He had his most successful year in 1987, finishing second in the World of Outlaws points to Steve Kinser.

Then in 1988, at the famed Eldora Speedway in Rossford, Ohio at the King’s Royal Championship, Doty was involved in a violent accident, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.

While the next few years were tough, Doty’s life again had meaning in 1992 when he began his television career as an analyst for sprint car races on such networks as TNN, ESPN, SPEED, CBS Sports, The Outdoor Channel and MAV TV.

Doty has twice been awarded the National Sprint Car Poll’s “Media Member of the Year” winner (1997, ’98), as well as the “Outstanding Contributor to the Sport” in 1998. From the World of Outlaws organization, he was recognized as Promoter of the Year in 2011 and was given the Ted Johnson Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to sprint car racing in 2023.

For his entire body of work in sprint car racing, Doty was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2001 in Knoxville, Iowa.

There’s no doubt that Doty is renowned in the sprint car industry and has been honored in many ways for it, however being named a member of the 2024 WCSHOF class is special to him in another way.

“I’m truly honored to be the first race car driver in the Wayne County Sports Hall of Fame,” he said. “To be honored with this year’s inductees and guys like Bobby Knight, Dick Schafrath and Dean Chance is really special.”

In 1999, Doty wrote his autobiography, “Still Wide Open,” and it has been re-released two more times since with updates.

“Looking back, sprint car racing took a lot from me, but it has also given me a lot back,” said Doty. “TV was my saving grace. It kept me in the sport that I love.”

Doty, who has been married to his wife, Laurie, for 43 years, has five children and 12 grandchildren, and lives outside of Apple Creek.