Page 79 - AZ Extreme - AEM Volume 7 Issue 4
P. 79

 Everyone’s heard the old saying ‘Nice guys  nish last.” But there are certainly exceptions to that, including the subjects of this month’s feature.
Brian and Kyle Fritz are not only really nice guys, but are successful in their profession and education and at racing: 21 year-old Kyle already has two Wallys, and father Brian has  ve Wallys and one cool Wally plaque for winning the AZ State Championship in 2010.  en again, Kyle has a bunch of years to go to equal his father’s total. He  rst started racing in 2014, so Brian has experience on his side. Still, I think Kyle has a bright future in drag racing.
Fritz Custom Welding is the name of Brian’s business, where he does just about every type of welding except gas welding.  ey’ve been open since 1994, and do a lot of motorcycle work in addition
to cars. He can even weld titanium, which is really
an art. Kyle is also majoring in Welding at Gateway Community College, and obviously intends to carry on in his dad’s footsteps.  eir shop in Tempe, at 2015 E 5th St #2 is a focal point for area racers when they need things welded - and it doubles as their race car shop. While I was there doing the interview, 2016 Wild Horse Pro Champion Phil Watkins stopped by with a couple of bent pieces from the front end of his race car, and I gathered this was a frequent happening at the shop.
Kyle is very enthusiastic about his prospective career . . . as a matter of fact, Kyle is very enthusiastic about everything! Brian, on the other hand, is a little on the quiet side, but just as passionate about drag racing as his son is. Brian’s current ride is a an all-black 1927 Ford roadster, with a small block Chevy for power. It’s been down since 2015 for back-hal ng and updating of the electrical and ignition systems.  is is the car
in which he won the Division 7 Super Pro Bracket
Championships that year. He built the car originally, even the chassis, and is doing all of the rework himself, along with Kyle. While son Kyle is not yet ‘certi ed’ as a welder, he  nds plenty to do at the shop. However,  nding time to go ride for fun in the desert on the two Kawasakis in the back has eluded them.
Kyle’s  rst year racing was 2014, but racing had
been on his mind for a long time. “Oh yeah, my  rst memories of racing were like, throwing Hot WheelsTM down the hall, that’s how it’s always been.” His  rst race car was a 2000 Chevy Blazer, but he currently drives a 1989 Pontiac Firebird, powered by a 385" small block Chevy.  e  rst big race deal for him was the 2014 Team Wild Horse Summit ET Series High School Championship. More recently, the  rst Wally came on a very di cult day in for the family, as Kyle’s mother passed that morning. In order to escape the terrible reality of the day, he and his dad went to Wild Horse in the Firebird, and ended winning the Team points race that night. It was Kyle’s  rst Super Pro race win, and also a Wally race (the NHRA All Access Race), so “that was really special.”  e second Wally came at the NHRA King of the Track race this past December.
“I’m really into the Heritage Series,” said Kyle, “in D/ Gas, I want to run D/Gas with the Firebird,” (which so far has recorded a best of 10.49/127 in the 3100# car). As far as the state of the sport is concerned, Brian said “A lot of people are pushing for the big bucks races, like they have back East, but I don’t know if it would be as popular out here. We’ve got series out here that have become popular, and that works for me. But we really go just to have fun, that’s the most important thing.” Kyle has an older sister who will come to the races, and is a very enthusiastic supporter of his . . . but isn’t really that interested in the sport itself.
As we wrapped up, I asked Kyle the big question:
“If you had an unlimited budget and all the time you needed, what would be your goals in drag racing.” He laughed, like most people would do, and I asked if
he’d thought about it. “Oh yeah, I think about it a lot.  ere’s a lot, I’m really into the bracket racing aspect of it, but I also like the idea of Super Class racing, which I’ve yet to do.  at is de nitely the next thing I’d like
to do, Pro tree stu . But if I had the money, I’d build an old Stocker and just kill the index at any NHRA National or Divisional.” I replied that he was the only racer of his age I’ve ever talked to that wanted to build a Stock class machine, rather than want Top Fuel, Funny Car or Pro Mod. “I have so much respect for those dudes in Stock . . . how these guys can just show up every week at these divisionals and be so good with these beautiful stock cars. I’d love to build one of those cars.”
Funny, how right away I could visualize Kyle in
a few years being the next Jimmy DeFrank or Dan Fletcher. He and his dad de nitely have the know- how and the drive to accomplish that goal. Brian is considering some Heritage Series events too, but right now, the upcoming Hangover Nationals at Tucson are on the horizon, de nitely for Kyle and maybe for Brian (depending on progress on his roadster).
Sponsors are a very important part of racing,
and Brian pointed out theirs: Torco Race Fuels and Roadrunner torque converters. “We’re a low budget operation,” Brian laughed . . . but certainly a very successful one. We’re all looking for the black roadster with the Torco Fuels logo on the side to be back at the track, as well as Kyle’s Firebird. It’s great to see a couple of genuinely nice guys  nish  rst! v
Story & Interview by Hal Sanguinetti Photos by Hal Sanguinetti & Brian Fritz
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