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In Their Blood

A red blur blazes by for a moment in the desert. It's not a bird or a plane, it's Derek and Briana Bradley racing their 1600 CC Volkswagen. Derek and Bre have been around racing their entire lives.

"We took them everywhere with us, (when they were little)," Tommy Bradley says. He and his wife, Kelly Bradley, took Bre to her first race when she was only 64 days old.

The entire Bradley family is a part of the Southern Nevada Off Road Enthusiasts association, or SNORE, a community of off-road racers that was formed in 1969.

"Our racing isn't really about going fast, it's about being consistent and watching out for boulders and obstacles," Derek says. "It's more about finishing and not breaking the car."

Derek and Bre first raced together in 2006. A car came around from the inside and, according to Bre, Derek freaked.

"He yanked the steering wheel from my hands and screamed that I was trying to kill him," Bre says.

In their last race they started out in 10th, and by the third lap they were running fourth, when all of a sudden a rock went through their motor. They had to stop for an hour and a half to fix the engine.

They had to replace a valve cover, and one of the rocking arms of their engine came off. Once it was all fixed they ended up finishing in 11th place.

"The joke in our family is that Derek tried to kill me this time by breaking my seat," Bre says.

Tommy and Kelly sponsor Derek and Bre in all of their races.

Tommy started racing in 1979. He won five championships with a Class 1 buggy.

"We were racing long before they were born," Tommy says.

In the 1990s, Tommy switched to short-course racing, which is racing on an enclosed course. In 1997, he switched to driving a Chevrolet truck.

Kelly used to co-drive with Tommy a lot when he drove a Class 1 car, which means she rode along in the passenger seat, but she doesn't consider herself a race car driver.

"I drove Tommy's buggy back in Wisconsin," she says. "You had to have 10 girls to race and I was the 10th girl. I did horrible."

Bre got her mom back into a race car during the Powder Puff all-girl race in February 2008.

"It's like, 'Hey hubby, hey brother give us your cars we're going to go race now,' and they all stand with their arms crossed thinking, 'Man, I hope my car comes back,''' Bre says.

Kelly was nervous to get back into a race car. "I won't do it again," she says.

Kelly was in a head-on collision in 1997 while "chasing" Tommy from one race pit to the next to make sure he was OK. She was hit by another pit person doing the same thing.

"Whatever I can do to help I'm in there," Kelly says. According to Bre, Kelly is like their team manager now.

Last year the Mint 400, a race that used to run in the 1970s, was brought back. It was a 400-mile-long race. Derek drove the first two laps, which are 100 miles each, and then Bre drove the final two laps.

"We ended up winning by 30 seconds," Derek says. "It isn't a lot because you usually win by minutes or hours."

Racing has helped Derek and Bre in different aspects of their lives. Because they have racing to look forward to, they work harder in school.

"If they get bad grades they do not get into the race car," Kelly says.

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