Lebanon's Brandon Lizotte is focused on one thing in 2018: redemption. After missing the 2017 Beetle Bug JV championship by one position, the tension in the air could be cut with a knife. Brandon was clearly disappointed, feeling so close but yet so far away to his biggest racing goal to date.
Coming into the 2017 season finale, Lizotte had one win on the season. The points in the division were flipped upside down when fellow competitor and points leader Chris Case had to sit out finale week due to a serious illness. Although unfortunate, this paved the way for other drivers like Brandon to compete for the title. "Coming out of turn 4, getting the checkered was a very slow motion feeling. Knowing that we weren't able to pull it off was really devastating. Typically, it would be window net down and high fives to the crew on the way to tech, but I couldn't even muster the ability to get the helmet off through tech," he says. With the help of his supportive Mother and friends, Brandon was eventually able to see the good in his season. Finishing out the season with one win and multiple top 3's was an improvement from 2016, where he finished the season third in points. Although Brandon is still frustrated about the loss, he's willing to look past that and focus on the positive.
To Brandon, one of the most important factors in racing is allowing his friends and family to come along for the ride. His family and friends are his biggest supporters, and it's pivotal for him to get good finishes, remain positive and make them proud. His proudest moment from the 2017 season is his victory in week 5 of competition. Week 5 was extra special for Brandon, as he had someone very special to him on the car as he rode into victory. He dedicated his win to his friend, Kasey Rogers, who is a U.S. Marine. Rogers had left for boot camp that week, and Brandon wanted to do something special for Kasey and his family. They put Kasey's USMC sticker on the car, which brought the best luck to the #14 team. As soon as he arrived back to the trailer after the race, Brandon made a call to Kasey's mother, Shannon. "To be able to make that call in the trailer at the end of the night and tell her that we put our boy into Victory Lane with me was so emotional and special. Both of us were crying on the phone, wishing he was home to be there for it. What a moment," he reminisces. Brandon's friends and family are a constant figure in his life at the track, but some of his competitors have become family as well.
The racing "family" at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway may be dysfunctional at times, but it works. There are dozens of competitors racing each other week in and week out, fighting tooth and nail for each position. Sure, drivers fight and get frustrated with each other from time to time. But, at the end of the day, the pit area is one big family. Drivers and teams will help each other out in the pits before the race. But, as soon as the helmets go on, it's every man (or woman) for themselves. "There are so many great people that I'm lucky enough to surround myself with week in and week out," he says. Chris Case is the one competitor at the top of the list for Brandon. Brandon calls Chris his "best friend" at the track and has nothing but great things to say about his friend and mentor. "I was so happy to see the success that he had in 2017. In my eyes, there wasn't anyone else in the pit area that deserved the run that he had in 2017. We bounce ideas and setups off each other when we can, and we genuinely try to help one another as often as we can," he details. Lizotte also looks up to fellow drivers Dave Stone, Sr. and Dave Stone, Jr The Stone family first got Brandon involved in racing. He credits the family for teaching him "everything he knows" and credits a lot of his success to them. Brandon hopes the success only continues in 2018.
There are a lot of big changes coming for Brandon and the Night Flight Racing team in 2018. Beech Ridge isn't the only race track on the agenda, as Brandon plans on trying to run a full points season at Wiscasset Speedway as well. He also likes to participate in big race weekends every season, such as Oxford 250 weekend and Oktoberfest weekend at Lee USA Speedway. "The overall goal would be to finish top 5 in points at Wiscasset and to finally get the championship that I've been creeping up on at Beech Ridge," he says. Those are two big goals to accomplish, but Brandon is up for the challenge. Having fun and getting the best finishes he can are two of his major objectives going into the season. Racing is obviously a top priority in Brandon's life, but it doesn't pay the bills.
Brandon is a hard worker on and off the track. Thursday nights may be spent at the track, but the rest of his week is spent working hard at Pratt & Whitney. Brandon works in the Military department, working on F-22 Raptor parts. He thoroughly enjoys his job and the people he works with. With a full-time job,it's difficult to balance work and racing. Brandon says he's "lucky" in the fact that he doesn't own his cars. Fellow driver Randy Pimpare is his car owner and Brandon is nothing but grateful for Randy. "He's an amazing owner, person and friend. We have a very nice shop in Acton where we put in a lot of work every Wednesday night and Sunday during the off-season. When we get going, it's usually Sunday through Wednesday night during the race season," he says. All the hard work and hours spent in the shop pays off during the season, but Brandon enjoys his downtime away from the track as well.
In his free time, Brandon enjoys hunting and fishing. He's also an avid NASCAR fan who looks up to drivers like 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson. He also enjoys traveling to new tracks when he can. "I have been to some awesome tracks like Miami and Darlington. This year, I'm excited to go to the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, and I'm sure I'll be at Loudon in July," he says. He tries to spend his free time with his loved ones, but he still enjoys treating himself from time to time. Brandon recently bought a bright red 2018 Honda Si, which is on his list of dream cars, "I'm a simple guy, so that was the dream car and I made that happen. I'm pretty excited about it, for sure," he says. Making, achieving and succeeding goals is really important to Brandon.
Professionally, Brandon hopes to continue his growth at Pratt & Whitney and with his own personal endeavors as well. As far as his ultimate racing goal? He wants to win the Oxford 250 in a Pro Stock. He has plans to move up in the racing world, starting in 2019. "I am really looking to get into a Legend car next season, and roll with that for a few years. I'd love to end up in a Pro Stock, being able to contend for wins," he says. With determination and a great team of supporters on his side, anything is possible.
Brandon says that his Mom is his biggest cheerleader. He explains that at first, she was "horrified" by the idea of him getting behind the wheel of a racecar. But, his Mom has grown to love the sport and she keeps him level-headed when he has a tough night at the track. She's always there for him with open arms, a smile and endless words of encouragement. His two best friends Devin and Buddy are also with Brandon every week, helping him reach the next level of success. Brandon says that neither of them ever complain and they voluntarily give up their free time to help him in the shop and support him wherever he competes. Brandon's girlfriend Michelle is one of his biggest cheerleaders. She goes to school at Penn State, where she is an English major. Although she's physically unable to make it to some races because of school, she watches the races on FaceTime and calls him after every race. "She's amazing. She's my driving force and my biggest cheerleader," he says. Brandon also lends thanks to his car owner Randy Pimpare and his wife Lisa, who have the confidence to put him behind the wheel. His step-father Jim Emmons is also a big help, assisting Brandon in getting the car race-ready. He also has a team of wonderful sponsors behind him, such as Sanford Sound, Hoot Dawgs, RP Performance and Oak Street Bistro.
With a huge support system and a handful of sponsors behind him, Brandon can achieve anything that he sets his mind to.
We wish Brandon and the Night Flight Racing team the best of luck in 2018!
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