Brian Walker was a guy going from race to race, on his own dime, purely for the love of the sport. He soon gained a solid Twitter following by being informative. He became popular not by being ‘Controversial’, swearing or posting pictures of himself in a Speedo or less. In his case his popularity was rooted in an honest effort at being informative.
We wish him nothing but success in his new role with The World of Outlaws. He definitely earned it, and we congratulate The World of Outlaws on a great hiring.
Let’s get to know Brian Walker just a little bit better…..
It seems like you’ve been around for a while, but lately you seem to have really exploded and established yourself as the leading source for dirt, short track, open wheel updates. What’s your origin story? How have you become everything that you are today?
Timing is everything. I found the right people at the right time, and they’re the reason I’m here.
From my parents to my grandma, my cousin Chris Andrews, Aaron & Adri Blevins, Blane Culp, Jake Palmisano, Brooke & Casey Shuman, Chris Wheeler, Jacob Brown, Tim Clauson, Keith Kunz, Pete Willoughby, Kenny Brown, Andrew Felker, Layne Himebaugh, Dylan Kadous, Jordan Herrman, and so many more. Those were the people who gave me chances and/or wouldn’t let me give up.
I grew up around Port City in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is something I’m really proud of. It’s one of the most iconic micro sprint tracks in the country and has produced some insane talent, and I’m proud to be an alum of that little bullring. I really started at 15-years-old doing stats, writing stories and running the Port City website thanks to Aaron & Adri. I did Walker Racing Promotions which led to great relationships with tracks like Southern Illinois Raceway, Deming Speedway, Sweet Springs Raceway, CA Speedweek, and more. Then I did Maximum Dirt with Blane Culp before Walkapedia was born in January ’17 thanks to Christopher Bell.
The Walkapedia deal started and as it grew, led to roles with Clauson-Marshall Racing and eventually the WAR Sprints in 2018. The WAR deal with Brooke and Casey Shuman led to my first job at Bell Helmets thanks to Brooke and Chris Wheeler. That was one of the coolest gigs I’ve ever had. It was unique to see the safety industry from behind the scenes and just how much work goes into protecting these drivers. All the dirt stuff we did at Knoxville and Chili Bowl was awesome, but working the Indianapolis 500 topped it all. That was a surreal experience at IMS.
I landed some more gigs with Keith Kunz Motorsports and POWRi Midgets in 2019, then the 2020 Shootout / Chili Bowl happened and things really skyrocketed. That led to my job with the World of Outlaws Late Models and eventually now the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series.
I credit all of my success to The Chili Bowl and the Tulsa Shootout. It’s the two most grueling and difficult weeks of the year, but they’re the most rewarding. It’s incredibly humbling to see, but I’ve always had a hard time buying into, I guess you could say the “hype” around my updates? Mainly because I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special, anyone can do this. I mean I type pretty fast I guess, but other than that it just takes hard work and dedication. It’s a lot of late nights doing research, studying, and trying to build your craft. The one thing I’m always hung up on is improving, and that’s really the one thing I’m proud of myself for. Each and every year, I’ve gotten better and made my coverage more valuable, and that’s always my goal.
The uniqueness of Chili Bowl and Shootout in the winter has helped a ton. I had maybe 4K followers in 2016, and it continued to grow every year. 2020 was a huge one when I finally hit 10K, which I thought was so cool haha. I was amazed at how much more it exploded this January, because now I’m already up to 16K in just over a year. I’m still shocked at the amount of support that rolls in. So many amazing companies / teams / people step up to support my trip and coverage. It’s really overwhelming.
Take us through a typical race night for Walkapedia at a dirt track. What is involved in doing what you do?
It’s a lot more preparation than anything. I try to memorize what all stats / information I need that day to make my job easier. For my Outlaws stuff, there’s a certain outline to follow obviously with our partners such as NOS, Drydene, DIRTVision, etc., but for the most part I have creative control on social during raceday. With the evolution of technology and the iPhone camera, the pictures are something I’ve really enjoyed doing lately. It’s a lot of pit pictures during the day coupled with what all stats / info we have available. Once racing begins, it’s just all natural. You have hot lap videos, qualifying times, heat race lineups / results, and eventually feature updates. It’s the same model most every night, but you have to find a certain uniqueness to every show / situation to offer the fans following along.
It’s 2021, so obviously we have streaming every night. I try to take that into consideration and offer something behind the scenes that a fan wouldn’t know or see on a broadcast. That’s always the coolest compliment I get, when someone mentions they’re even at the track but they follow along with me on race day to learn more.
How did you become involved with The World of Outlaws?
That’s all Casey Shuman. I started working with Brooke and Casey on the WAR Sprints stuff in ’18. I knew Indiana was where I needed to be if I wanted a career in racing, so I was heading to Sprint Week that summer and they let me crash on their couch one night, which then turned into two nights, and eventually three lol. By the end of the week, they asked if I wanted to move-in, which I couldn’t say no to. I drove back to Missouri and packed everything I owned into my little Ford Focus. It was tough saying goodbye to Andrew Felker, Miranda Arnold, and her parents Bryan and Kelly. Another family that I owe a lot to.
So, I moved to Indy with the Shuman’s and we eventually moved south to Martinsville that winter. Casey got his Series Director job with the WoO Late Models at PRI, so Brooke and I did the WAR stuff again in 2019 with “Gundy” Wayne Priddy as Race Director. We’re still the best triangle since Jordan and the Bulls.
I dabbled with some Late Model stuff and Casey was really pushing to bring me over to be his PR Coordinator there. The pandemic hit last year and that opened the door for them to officially hire me in May 2020. Once we returned to racing, I traveled with Casey to all the races and did the whole remainder of that season with Late Models. It was a challenge, by far the biggest of my career. Just because I went from a pit area with midgets where I know everyone, everything about them, and they all know me; to a pit area where I can’t even tell you what Brandon Sheppard looks like and nobody knows who I am. By mid-summer, I was more comfortable though and started producing better content each and every night. It was cool to see the reaction to our social product when I took over mainly because in Late Models there is that competition with Lucas Oil. I’m real proud of what we did last year.
I was fully prepared to come back with Late Models bigger and better in 2021, but then the Sprint Car job offer came in December. The former Sprint Car PR guy Nick Graziano was stepping off the road into an office promotion, and my awesome bosses Chris Dolack and Cristina Cordova knew how much I love Sprint Cars. It was honestly a tough decision. Spent a few sleepless nights in a hotel in Charlotte. I owe much of my entire career at this point to Brooke and Casey for the doors they’ve opened for me, so I still feel bad for leaving Casey’s side to go to the Sprints.
Tell us about your new role with The World of Outlaws?
It’s my dream job. Officially, I’m the Public Relations Coordinator. At the end of the day, I handle all the social media from Twitter / Facebook / Instagram and write press releases. It’s essentially just promoting our series, our drivers, and our events.
The one aspect I’ve taken on myself being a nerd is the historical side of the series. Since January, it’s been non-stop digging through record books and trying to create my own database. My thing is numbers can tell a story, and my best stories are told with numbers. I’m an okay writer, but I feel my most comfortable with social content and statistics, and that’s where I feel leads to some of my best work. The eyes and attention on our series is off the charts for dirt racing, but we still have room to grow, and part of my job is to continue elevating our series online.
I really can’t wait until we get rolling with some of these big events. I’ve been a fan at Knoxville for six years, and now I get to cover it. I’m so excited for that. I have my knowledge on approaching Chili Bowl coverage to bring into these events too, so I feel confident. There’s Knoxville, TWO King’s Royal’s, Huset’s / Jackson, National Open, and so many other huge events we get to run. It’s gonna be a blast.
What can sprint car racing learn from late model racing and what could late model racing learn from sprint car racing?
Being a newbie in Late Model’s last year, I found it ridiculously hard to learn who was driving what car. I feel for the most part every Sprint Car has a name on the wing or by the cockpit, but man it was tough finding who drove what with Late Models. Can we get more names on the cars lol? I feel like the amount of provisionals could be cut down and I’m seriously not a fan of getting your spot back if you’re involved in a crash on the start.
For Sprint Cars, I wish they had an internet presence the way Late Models do. I know it’s 2021 and websites are in the past, but almost every LM driver out there has their own site with such great information. All the stats, results, stories, and info such as chassis, sponsors, hometown, age, etc. was huge in helping cut my learning curve on that side.
What have been the effects of social media in motorsports, both positive and negative?
Positive and negative is a good way to put it. So many great things, but so much bad as well. One positive thing I guess is that I have a career lol. It’s amazing that you can open your phone and keep up with races from all across the country. There are the wonderful stories you find, videos / pictures you might otherwise never see, and the funding honestly. It’s so cool to see a community come together when something tragic happens to someone we know. We’ve seen some pretty incredible efforts to help people through social media over the years.
The negative, though, man there’s a lot of it. I’m the guy who has to read all of the comments on these posts and it’s rough sometimes. This stuff following the Bristol invite-only announcement has just hurt my head honestly. So many people rush to assumptions these days without knowledge of a situation. They’re so quick to call you greedy and so many other worse names in the book. It’s easy to get lost in all of the bad out there, and there’s lots of it; but you’ll be better off focusing on the good in people.
Kyle Larson sometimes walks around in a Walkapedia driving suit. How the heck did that happen?
Man, it’s such a cool deal, and it came out of nowhere too. Through my prior role at Bell Helmets, I had worked with and became good friends with Jacob Brown, who is now Director of Motorsports at K1 RaceGear. We were watching DIRTVision in October and he said we should do a Walkapedia suit. To which I’m like yeah that’d be cool, I can’t afford it though haha. He’s always been a huge supporter of mine though, and actually went to bat and came up with a deal to where we made the suit happen and K1 became a Walkapedia sponsor. It’s been great to work with Jake & J.R. on this deal, we even have a few more suits in the works.
Larson wearing the first one honestly came from the suit stats I was tracking all year in 2020. I never thought he’d say yes, but it worked out to where it made sense for him to wear it at the Millbridge Micro race, and he was all for it. Andrew Felker knocked out the design real quick and K1 finished it up a few days before the race. It was super cool to roll up and see him wearing it, even more so the online reaction to it.
Since then, he’s wore it at Millbridge in Micros, almost won the USAC Midget race at Bakersfield (that stung, Buddy), and sported it in Late Model’s at All-Tech. It’ll be really badass to see on my wall in 20-30 years for sure. I just want him to get one damn win with that suit first lol.
What is your all-time favorite stat and why?
I’m always mind-blown by the fact that only 8 of 87 World of Outlaws races in 1981 were won by a man not named Sammy, Doug or Steve.
Only ten World of Outlaws champions in 43 years is also impressive. One of the more brutal ones is the fact that Tim Siner made it to 8 Chili Bowl B-Mains, but never transferred to the main event. That one hurts. Larson’s entire stretch in 2020 is full of good ones.
Kyle’s parents Mike & Janet hooked me up with an amazing document on his entire career. He raced at 180 tracks (pavement & dirt) with victories 111 of them. Of the 69 tracks he hasn’t won at, 37 of them he’s only been to once, so there’s only 32 tracks he has visited on multiple occasions without a win. I also find it interesting that Volusia Speedway Park is the only dirt track he hasn’t won at with 10+ starts.
Who are some of your favorite people to follow on Twitter?
There are the obvious ones like @Brayden_McMahan, @RossWece, @KnoxvilleMoths off the top of my head. I really enjoy following my Chili Bowl compadres @MattWeaverAW & @JacobSeelman77 throughout their travels.
A random group I’ve been consumed with lately is the Sports Graphic Design field. I absolutely love what stick & ball sports do with their Digital Content, and believe racing could take advantage of that. It is SO HARD though. I’m self-taught and nowhere near where I want to be, but I’m getting better. Guys like @Will_Herb_Stone, @HarrisLue, @WhyNotAlvarez, and more are awesome follows for inspiration. They’re badasses at what they do.
Where do you see your future in the sport?
That’s a tough one. I could see myself happily sticking with the Outlaws for the next 10-15 years, but there’s still a lot of things I’d like to try at some point. I’d really like to give promotion a go one day. I’ve got a few ideas in mind. One thing I’m super passionate about is formats. Revamping the entire Hockett/McMillin Memorial format with Casey, and then bringing it to life, was such a cool experience.
I would’ve never believed you if you told me this is where I would be five years ago, so at the end of the day I’m not sure what’s in store. I’m just taking it one day at a time and rolling with the punches. I’ve got my aspirations and obviously I’ll work towards them, but man everything can change in just one split second. As long as I’m still involved in this sport somehow, I’ll be happy.
The Drivers Project is a media collective devoted to North American open-wheel racing.