Mittler stated Oct. 3, 2017, on his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He stated in that posting that he had his first chemo treatment that day and was at the shop after the treatment.
Many in the sport paid tribute to Mittler on Friday.
Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager of World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, stated about Mittler: “Mike was special. He was a great man who inspired many. I value each moment shared with him through the years, especially those in the garage along with my son.”
Here is what others in the sport said about Mittler:
Lost a dear friend today. Mike Mittler gave me my first big break in NASCAR. He loved racing as much or more than anyone I have ever been around. I will always cherish the time I spent racing for Mike and his wife Bev. pic.twitter.com/0wpmJ74wKI
Sorry to hear that legendary @NASCAR and short track racer Mike Mittler passed away today. Mike helped a lot of young drivers get their start and built equipment that we all use in our shops everyday. Thank you Mike.
Very sad news tonight with the passing of Mike Mittler. Thinking about his family, @MBMotorsports and the #63 tonight. Mike was a special guy who was beloved in the racing community and a true representative of what @NASCAR is all about. 🙏
Knew the day was coming we would lose Mike Mittler but it doesn't make it any easier. Our family has been tight with Mike for 20+ years &sold most of our trucks to him when we shut down. I helped Mike at Martinsville a couple years ago and we finished really well. God speed buddy
The story of how Chase Briscoe made it to the Xfinity Series doesn’t begin in a one-stoplight town in Southern Indiana.
“Actually, we just got a second stop light about two years ago,” Briscoe says.
The town, Mitchell, is 33 miles south of Bloomington in Lawrence County.
Before you ask, there isn’t much to do there.
“I remember in high school one of the fun things and cool things to do is just go walk around Wal-Mart,” Briscoe says.
Luckily for Briscoe, growing up in a county that produced three astronauts provided some benefit to the future Roush Fenway Racing driver.
Dirt racers. “A ton” of them.
One of those was his dad, Kevin Briscoe.
The son of a longtime sprint car owner, Richard Briscoe, Kevin continued in the family business, competing for more than 20 years and winning more than 150 feature events.
But for much of Chase’s childhood, Kevin didn’t want his son involved in racing.
At 7, he raced twice in a quarter midget, winning both a qualifying race and his feature. But that was almost the end for Chase.
“My dad was still racing so much, and we didn’t really have the money to be doing both,” Briscoe says. “He just never really had the desire for me to race. He just didn’t see the point of it. He didn’t think it was the safest thing. He didn’t think I could make a good livelihood doing it.”
His dad’s mind was changed one night at Bloomington Speedway when Chase was about 10.
While at the payout window, the mother of another driver asked Kevin when he was going to let his son race.
When he told her he didn’t want Chase to race, the woman launched into a story.
Her son had once written a school paper about what racing with his family on the weekends meant to him.
The teacher failed the paper. She didn’t think it was right for a kid to be racing.
The next week, the teacher’s son was arrested for drinking and driving underage.
“My dad, it kind of clicked with him,” Briscoe says. “He was always with his dad on the weekends not getting into trouble and was always at the shop working throughout the week and kept him out of a lot of trouble he thought. That was kind of his mentality to let me start racing, was to keep me out of trouble.”
Briscoe wasn’t immediately throwing dirt on the weekends. It wasn’t until 2006 at 11 that he returned to the track in a mini-sprint car.
When he was 13, he made the jump into his dad’s old 410 sprint car, which had an engine built in 1993 (the year before Briscoe was born).
In his first season, he amassed 37 starts but didn’t win until the last race of the year. By doing so, Briscoe broke Jeff Gordon’s record (14 years old) as the youngest person to win a 410 sprint car race.
Even now, Briscoe doesn’t see himself as an exceptional dirt racer.
“It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, but I’m not the best dirt racer by any means,” Briscoe says. “I’m not the best pavement racer by any means either. It was hard to kind of race against guys that were running 140 races a year experience-wise.”
DIRT TO PAVEMENT
When he graduated high school, Briscoe knew he was within a few years of an expiration date for anyone wanting to make it as a pavement racer.
“I knew I was in that age category where if you’re over 23 years old, you’re probably not going to get a chance if you’re just starting out,” Briscoe says. “I just figured, ‘What the heck? The worst they’re going to tell me is no.’ If it doesn’t work out in three or four years, I can always move back and race sprint cars and go get a full-time job or go to school or what not. I kind of just went for it, and I honestly expected it to never work out. But I figured it was something I could do, and if I was 60 years old sitting on a porch, I wouldn’t have any regret about it.”
The first step in that goal was being invited to the Michael Waltrip PEAK Antifreeze Stock Car Dream Challenge in July 2013 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Briscoe competed in the three-day event against eight other hopefuls for a chance to win a ride with Bill McAnally Racing. He made the final round before losing to Patrick Staropoli.
Both drivers made a handful of K&N Pro Series starts for Bill McAnally Racing, with Briscoe making three in the West Series. To date, Staropoli has made one Camping World Truck Series start, in 2016.
Within a year, Briscoe furthered his commitment to making it on pavement. He moved to North Carolina in January 2014 at the age of 19.
That’s where the Keselowski family came in.
In the 2017 video game, “NASCAR Heat 2,” the career mode begins with a video of Brad Keselowski talking to the player as if they’re an aspiring NASCAR driver.
Keselowski says he’ll make a few calls to see about getting you a ride with a Truck Series team.
You’re basically playing as Chase Briscoe.
Unlike the game, Briscoe got to race for Keselowski.
The call from the 2012 Cup champion came after Briscoe, driving for Cunningham Motorsports, captured the 2016 ARCA Racing Series championship. He earned six wins – including four in row – during the campaign.
But Briscoe’s history with the Keselowskis didn’t begin there.
It started when he made the move to North Carolina and began sleeping on couches and volunteering at race shops.
The first shop he lent his services to belonged to Keselowski’s father and brother, Bob and Brian.
“I’m sure they would say I didn’t help out much because I didn’t really know what I was doing,” says Briscoe, who served as a spotter for Brian when he raced while Bob served as crew chief.
Briscoe got to pay tribute to Bob Keselowski’s own Truck Series career last September when he drove one of his old paint schemes at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
After his tenure at the Keselowski shop, Briscoe wound up at Cunningham Motorsports, where he volunteered until he was awarded a test at Nashville Speedway. That test resulted in two ARCA races in 2015 and his championship campaign.
The plan was for Briscoe to compete in the Truck Series two years and move to the Xfinity Series.
Due to not being near his phone, Briscoe didn’t find out until about an hour before the announcement was made.
“I had like two or three missed calls from Brad and I was like, ‘This is weird,’ ” says Briscoe. “I called him and he pretty much just told me, ‘Hey, I wanted to let you know I went to the shop today and told everybody I’m actually shutting the team down. You’re going to run the rest of the year, and I’m going to keep you in the best stuff I can.'”
The news came with nine races left in the season. With BKR the only Ford-backed team in Trucks at the time, Briscoe’s NASCAR future was put in limbo.
“It was very eye-opening to be there in the first place … I never would have expected to even make it in the Xfinity Series,” Briscoe says. “To be able to drive for Jack Roush in your first start in the winningest number in Xfinity Series history (94 wins) is certainly very humbling. It was just such an honor.”
Briscoe will make 11 more starts in the N0. 60 this season, the next coming on April 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. But Briscoe will make at least one other Xfinity start.
He is scheduled to compete April 28 race at Talladega Superspeedway for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste Racing.
The race is significant for a driver who grew up in the dirt racing hotbed of Indiana.
“Being a sprint car guy, my hero is Tony Stewart,” Briscoe said of the native of Columbus, Indiana. “For me just getting to drive one race at Stewart-Haas is a dream come true. Just awesome and so humbling to be able to say I’m going to drive for my hero.”
The 23 year old Briscoe — at the age he once saw as a make-or-break year for his racing dreams — has a buffet of options before him.
In addition to racing for his home-state hero, he’ll compete in seven IMSA races, three Trans-Am races and roughly 25 sprint car races this year.
There’s not much a 60-year-old Briscoe would regret about the moment.
Todd Parrott, who won the 1999 Cup championship as crew chief for Dale Jarrett, has joined Premium Motorsports in the same role, the team announced Tuesday.
Parrott, who has 31 Cup wins, joins a leadership team that includes owner Jay Robinson, Scott Eggleston, Pat Tryson, Tommy Baldwin and Brian Keselowski.
“The addition of Todd Parrott is the culmination of a plan that started a couple of years ago,” Robinson said in a press release. “We wanted to assemble the most experienced professionals available to our team in an effort to stay relevant and competitive. We are very pleased to have Todd join our staff and are looking forward to this season as we continue to build this team.”
Parrott previously served as crew chief for Michael McDowell at Leavine Family Racing.
“I’m excited for my first day here at Premium Motorsports,” Parrott said in a team release. “I’ve been talking to Jay (Robinson) for about a month or so regarding the possibility of coming here to help him with this program. He has quite a few good people here like Pat Tryson, Scott Eggleston, Brian Keselowski and Tommy Baldwin who I actually worked with before. As I walked around the shop this morning I recognized several other people that I’ve worked with in the past as well, so I’m really looking forward to this new and different opportunity for me here. I just can’t wait to get going and get racing.”
Brian Keselowski was the guest on the latest episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, discussing his journeyman racing career as driver and mechanic.
Keselowski, who recently opened his own business to help Xfinity, ARCA and other racing teams with preparing their cars, is the older brother of 2012 Cup champion Brad Keselowski, who helped push Brian into the field of the 2011 Daytona 500.
Brian and Brad Keselowski began racing a go-kart together on a makeshift dirt track (really a field) across from their father’s race shop. They both raced Late Models and other cars around the Midwest, and Brian recalled a humorous story about Brad’s first encounter with Tony Stewart on Berlin Speedway near Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“(Brad) was there for a big show, and Tony was there as the big NASCAR driver,” Brian said on the podcast. “Brad had to make the field through a qualifying race. The top 12 transfer in, and he’s running 13th.
“Tony took the lead at the same time Brad was going to (get lapped), and they got together, and Tony spun out, Brad didn’t. Tony got so mad, he parked the car, and it just so happened that Brad was on the lead lap, so Brad got into the race because Tony spun out. It was interesting that was his first experience with Tony Stewart.”
Did it underscore that Brad Keselowski always had a penchant for challenging the establishment?
“Well, that wasn’t even on purpose,” Brian said with a laugh. “But yeah, it kind of looked that way, didn’t it?
“It’s funny. Brad’s always been looked at different at the track. He’s always looked younger than he is, so when he started as a 16-year-old in factory stocks, those guys didn’t like him then, either. He won eight to nine times that year, and they didn’t like getting beat by this little kid coming in and whipping up on them.”
Among other topics discussed on the podcast:
–The origins of the Keselowski family’s race teams and why being based outside North Carolina had its advantages.
–How Brian Keselowski won his first race as a jack man (making his debut in a Camping World Truck Series race at Bakersfield as a teenager).
–Why there was a “Keselowski for President 2016” car.
You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.