Brad Doty and Michael Annett's father, Harrold, go back a long way, smack in the middle of the heyday of winged sprint car racing in the United States.
This Labor Day weekend, they'll be together again at the legendary Darlington Raceway (Sept. 2), when JR Motorsports driver Michael Annett will carry a special tribute to Doty on the No. 5 TMC Transportation Chevrolet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event on the 1.366-mile oval.
The No. 5 entry will feature a striking paint scheme reminiscent of Doty's No. 18 sprint car, featuring blue-and-silver livery with red TMC graphics and sporting a picture of Doty himself on the decklid.
The elder Annett, owner of TMC, the nation's largest flatbed transportation company, was one of the biggest sponsors in the heyday of the World of Outlaws, the preeminent winged sprint car organization of its time, and Doty was one of the stars along with drivers like Steve Kinser, Doug Wolfgang and Sammy Swindell, who drove the No. 1 TMC machine for Annett's team.
Doty drove the house car for Arizona car owner Gary Stanton during that time, and was driving for him in July 1988 when Doty's life changed forever. Doty was involved in a first-lap crash during the $50,000-to-win King's Royal event, and was hit by other cars while flipping off Turn 2. The resulting impact fractured a thoracic vertebrae and left him paralyzed from mid-chest down.
That didn't stop Doty, who picked up and went on to become one of the sport's top TV commentators, beginning on The Nashville Network and continuing to this day on many different major networks. Doty has won several prestigious media awards for his contributions on camera.
"I didn't know him (Harrold Annett) real well when he had Sammy's cars, until he bought Challenge Chassis, Gary Stanton's company," Doty said. "That's when I got to know him a little more. He let us come up into his suite at Knoxville (Iowa), for the Nationals. I took the kids and the family and hung out with him up there and got to know him well. We reconnected after many years, and did a lot of talking, and he is a super guy. For him to do this with that car, it's a pretty neat deal."
The idea for the throwback paint scheme that Michael Annett will run at Darlington Raceway over the Labor Day weekend came from Michael, who calls Brad one of his heroes and his father, Harrold who has remained supportive of Doty throughout the years and wishes to honor his career with the paint scheme.
Doty has seen photos of the car, and while never having seen a race at Darlington, was touched by the special scheme.
"I'm very humbled and honored that they would do something like that," he said. "I've never been to Darlington, just seen it on TV, but it looks like they'll be rubbing the TMC off the quarterpanel from what I've seen!"
Harrold Annett played a big role in the inaugural Brad Doty Classic, a benefit race for Doty and his family, at Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park in 1989.
"The very first Brad Doty race at Attica Raceway Park in Ohio was promoted by Harrold Annett and the United Sprint Association organization," Doty said. "It was a benefit race for my family and me after I got hurt."
Since then, there have been 28 Brad Doty Classics, with the 29th scheduled for July 11 at Attica. A 10-year-run at Limaland (Ohio) Motorsports Park ended in 2015, and last year's event was run at Attica, its original home. The race is no longer a benefit race, but has become one of the must-win events in the sprint car universe.
-- JR Motorsports --