NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Kyle Clough started racing go-karts when he was seven years old. Having grown up watching his dad race, it was never a question of if he was going to start racing, it was when.
(left to right) Brandon, Tanner, and Kyle Clough race IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Hobby Stock, and IMCA Stock Cars, respectively. They all started racing when they were kids (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
"He started racing the year I was born, so I grew up out here at the track. A lot of the friends that I made at the track grew up and started racing go-karts and we’ve been together ever since then. It's just kind of a way of life," Clough said.
Now 30, Clough races IMCA Stock Cars, and his racing inspired his younger brother Brandon to start racing as well.
"My dad raced, my older brother started racing, and I thought it was just the coolest thing, so that's what I wanted to do. So, I started racing. It's kind of fun to do it together," Brandon Clough said.
Brandon Clough has also been racing for over 20 years, having started racing when he was around five years old, now racing IMCA Modifieds at age 28.
Watching dad and two older brothers racing, it was only natural for 22-year-old Tanner to start racing as well. Tanner started racing seven, and took a few years off, but has been racing IMCA Hobby Stock for five years.
“He thought he wanted to golf. He found out real fast he didn’t like that,” Brandon Clough said of Tanner.
According to Tanner, the brothers compete in anywhere between 20 and 40 races a summer at various tracks across Nebraska and neighboring states, and rarely have the opportunity to practice; so they get their practice in during hot laps and actual races.
The group travels as a family; in the pit area on race day, the Cloughs can be seen surrounded by friends and family before, during, and after the race.
When one brother races, the rest of the family watch and cheer them on, “I always enjoy it. I almost enjoy watching them race more than racing myself," Brandon Clough said.
When in the stands, it’s hard for the Cloughs to turn off their racer brain and watch as a fan.
"Most the time, you're a fan. You're cheering them on; you're wanting them to do good. But, at the same time, being a driver, you kind of visualize what they're seeing too and you're kind of driving the car for them,” Kyle Clough said.
However, that can come in handy, as they can give each other advice before a race.
"There are times where if you're up watching the race before them, you'll see something in that race that you think would work for them, so you'll go tell them that. For the most part we just let each other drive and do what we can do," Kyle Clough said.
Not only do the brothers get to spend time together at races, they also work together to fix up their cars.
"We like working on cars, it gives us something to do together other than work,” Tanner Clough said.
Sometimes, they will get done with their full-time jobs, Kyle and Brandon as farmers, and Tanner as a student, and spend hours fixing up the cars, working late into the night.
"Some weeks when you're real busy, you don't spend as much time on them as you should, and there's other weeks when you're not as busy on the farm that you'll get home at night and work at the shop until one or two o’clock in the morning, and start all over the next day," Brandon Clough said, “Some week we probably spend more time on them than we do farming.”
Unfortunately, a large portion of time working on the cars is not spent tweaking the cars, but rather making repairs on the cars.
"It's nice to be able to make the car better, but normally we just fix junk, straighten the car out, or fix stuff that we broke," Tanner Clough said.
Having been racing for so long, the Cloughs know the best strategy going into a race is being prepared for anything to happen.
"You can go out with a plan, but it never works out that way," Tanner Clough said.
"It's kind of like riding a bike. Once you get it, you kind of know what you're doing and how to do it,” Brandon Clough said.
"You can go out with a plan, and the first corner can screw your whole plan up. For the most part, you fly by the seat of your pants and do what you can do," Kyle Clough said.
Perhaps the scariest part of racing is a wreck, especially if your brother is out on the track. All three brothers say they do not worry about wrecking, or even their brothers wrecking, but they worry about others wrecking around them.
Tanner hasn’t experienced a wreck often in his career, but recently put his car into a wall in a race.
“You don’t really have enough time to think when you’re going to wreck. You just see it happening, and it happens,” Tanner said of the experience.
Kyle has raced for about ten more years than Tanner, and has not been as lucky avoiding wrecks, having rolled a car in his career. His experience with his crashes is similar to Tanner’s.
“Sometimes it happens so fast, it’s all done with, and you don’t even know what happened,” Kyle Clough said.
For all three brothers, what they love most about racing is that they get to spend their time with friends and family.
"Just getting to be with my brothers and meet new people, and making friends," Brandon Clough said about why he loves racing.
“You get to travel a little bit, just have a fun time, meet a lot of cool people," Tanner Clough said.
"It's something that I've always been around. I get to spend time with my brothers and our friends, and most my friends that I have are because of racing. You meet a lot of great people," Kyle Clough said.