FIVE QUESTIONS w/ Louis Brewster
I might be overstating the obvious for long-time sports columnist with a career like he’s had — now stretching into an amazing fifth decade! — but nevertheless, the ‘Mayor of Fontana’ agreed to our request for a five-question motor sports Q&A that reached into history and became an epic 10-minute interview.
FOMB: Other than Auto Club Speedway and NHRA in Pomona, what are your favorite tracks?
Brewster: “Well there’s not that many tracks after that! You got Perris — I enjoy Perris. I enjoy Irwindale. Another track still open is Orange Show Speedway. I’ve been to Victorville and their dirt track, both their quarter-mile and their little Wheel-2-Wheel venue up there. But there’s not that many left in the area. There used to be a few more.
FOMB: Is there one of those that you like the best?
LB: “I enjoy Perris (Auto Speedway). You’re in a place where you’re a part of the action. You can get dirt thrown in your face if you’re sitting in the turns at 1 and 4, so I think that’s good. The Orange Show is small enough to where you can see the whole track, you can hear all the action going on. That’s exciting, too. And you have to remember there’s off-road racing at both Devore and down in Lake Elsinore. I enjoy Glen Helen (and) their National events. What I admire about Glen Helen is they have endurance races, 10- or 12-hour endurance races. That says a lot about the local guys and their willingness to compete. You get a few pros in their but it’s mostly local guys and I think that’s great that they compete at that kind of level. I went to one (24-hour event) and I got there early for the start then coming back the next day for the finish. It was pretty exciting.”
FOMB: Plenty of people know about your long friendship with NHRA legend John Force. Tell us something about him that we won’t find on his Wiki page.
LB: “The first time that we got together he offered me lunch, which was baloney sandwiches out of the back of his station wagon. Early in his career, when his girls were young, he didn’t think he was a very good father because he was always away competing and working and trying to get money for his family. We had discussions, and I may have been home more than he was but that didn’t necessarily translate into the secure future his kids had, so he used that inability to his advantage and I thought he was always a great father because he provided for his family.”
FOMB: Any local athlete who’s a jerk and you don’t mind who knows it?
LB: “I was thinking about that very question a couple of days ago because I was asked ‘Is there anybody whom you’ve had an adverse relationship with?’, and there’s only one guy that I know of that I’ve had that kind of relationship with. He thought I had singled him out and he got fired though he said he quit. When you quit the same time you get fired then what came first? So he thought I wasn’t giving him a fair shake. I think about that quite often. They told me his was fired before he told me that he quit. So what’s the difference? But it’s the only adverse relationship that I’ve had, I think. There may be others that dislike me going back but professionally we have a good relationship. Sometimes you just don’t see eye-to-eye.”
FOMB: IndyCar is coming to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana this weekend. Is IndyCar a good fit for the Inland Area?
LB: “This could be the end, because it’s in the daytime, in June and it’s going to be pretty damn hot. It’s show that hot weather in the summertime doesn’t attract fans. The initial race at Ontario Motor Speedway, that California 500 in 1970, the announced attendance was 170,000. Even if it was 140,000 it’d be the biggest sporting event in California history. There is interest in repeating that but having the race on a Saturday afternoon is not optimum. I think Southern Californians have been spoiled to IndyCar finales out here in late September, October and November. They respond to that kind of stuff, but this race will go a long way toward determining the future of IndyCar in Fontana.”
FOMB: Gillian Zucker. Great Auto Speedway President or greatest Auto Club Speedway president?
LB: “Let me tell you I think she did a good job while she was there. She promoted the sport, she tried to further expand the NASCAR brand in Southern California and I think she did a good job. She got IndyCar to return to Fontana. I think she did a good job while she was there. I’m not somebody who just throws around ‘the greatest’ title.
FOMB: But you’ve given it to somebody?
LB: “I call Ricky Carmichael GOAT but I don’t know if I’d call anybody else that. Results speak for themselves. I though Jeremy McGrath was perhaps the greatest motocross rider but Ricky beat all his numbers and was just dominant. You’ve got to go with the numbers here because they all race the same tracks. Same bikes, same tracks so you can do that. Richard Petty, you could call him a GOAT in NASCAR but he was racing in a different era. A.J. Foyt same thing, (Mario) Andretti… I don’t know if you can compare those eras.”