On August 19th, the Northeast drag racing community lost a one-of-a-kind personality in Jim Bradshaw Sr, who was just 60 at the time of his passing. The former track manager at Capitol Raceway in his native Maryland, Bradshaw was a lifelong hot rodder who always found opportunities to give back to the sport he loved. His legacy in drag racing lives on in his son, Jimmy Bradshaw Jr., who took the skills he learned from his father and applies them as a track prep specialist.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #185, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in Nov/Dec of 2023.]
“He was larger than life, and I don’t think he really knew how much he impacted people,” says Bradshaw Jr. “When he passed, I got calls and texts from all over the racing industry. The thing about us is we have really deep roots in all forms of racing, whether it be class racing, grudge racing, bracket racing, whatever it may be. We’ve always had deep roots in that, so I think his legacy is just bigger than life. A real good guy.”
Growing up, Bradshaw worked at local gas stations and farms to earn money he’d put towards improving his street cars. In 1989, he saved up enough money to buy his ’37 Chevy Coupe, which started as a 14-second car when he first took it to Capitol Raceway in the early ‘90s. He built it up into a 9-second car that satisfied his need for an adrenaline rush.
“It was just a little 4-speed car, total street car, and he took it to our local track, Capitol Raceway, and started racing there,” says Bradshaw Jr., the owner of Sticky Mafia Track Services. “Him and I did it together as a father-son thing. One thing led to another. I started working there as a kid while he raced. In 2013, management/ownership switched and he went in there and was helping another guy and kind of took over Capitol. He ran it from 2013 to 2018 or 2019. That’s where I got my start. I worked with him there until ’16, then I ventured off to do my own thing.”
Bradshaw brought a racer mentality to his management role at Capitol, combining that with his business experience from building his own business, Bradshaw Rollback and Auto. With Bradshaw managing the track, Capitol hosted big-money bracket races, grudge races, and other successful events that attracted racers from up and down the East Coast.
“You always have to think like a racer,” Bradshaw Jr. says. “I think that was the main thing for us going into it that helped boost our success – having a racer background and knowing what racers want. You can’t appease all racers, but at least try to think like a racer to make it more enjoyable.”
Bradshaw was also known for his kindness and generosity at the track and in his own neighborhood. He’d regularly hold cookouts with Maryland-style seafood at the track to show his appreciation for the racers. During the winter months, he’d donate his snowplowing services to his neighbors.
“He just had a big heart,” Bradshaw Jr. says. “I remember many times we’d ride down the road and he’d see somebody not doing well and take them in and buy them food and say, ‘Hey, you have food, you’re allowed to sit in this place. They can’t kick you out of here.’ I’ve tried to carry that same deal: treat people how you want to be treated. Sometimes you get off kilter or whatever, but at the end of the day, just try to do the right thing and try to take care of everybody. When he ran the racetrack, he’d do that. Sometimes he’d pay money out of his own pocket to make things happen if it wasn’t successful that weekend. Just try to do the right thing.”
Now, the third generation of Bradshaws is getting into the track prep game. Bradshaw Jr.’s son, Ashton, spent the summer of 2023 on the road working with his dad at events. For Ashton, it was a unique way to spend a summer break from his mechanical engineering studies in college. For Jimmy, it was a full-circle bonding opportunity.
“It’s really fun to be out there with my son,” Bradshaw Jr. says. “I get to see how my dad got to look at it because I never got to see it from that perspective. Now being able to see it from that perspective, I get to see how special it is to be able to go out there and do something you love and have your offspring there doing it with you.”
Bradshaw and his wife, Terri, celebrated their 40th anniversary before his passing. Along with Jimmy, Bradshaw leaves behind sons Cory and Brian, eight grandchildren, and many more family and friends.