Drag Illustrated Issue 179, November / December 2022 | Page 71

To this day , Whitmore continues to only get the leftover dates to schedule the bracket program , and while the initial saving of the program took just five weekends , he insists the continued strength of Bristol ’ s bracket scene is a constant work in progress . “ It didn ’ t happen overnight ,” he says assuredly .
Whitmore has guided the program through a variety of economic climates . The biggest surprise he ’ s encountered was seeing how the COVID pandemic boosted the strength of drag racing in general . Then came the soaring inflation that drove up fuel prices , which Whitmore was fully expecting would affect his bracket program negatively , only the opposite happened . “ Suddenly , I ’ ve got one of the best car count seasons I ’ ve ever had , and I simply don ’ t have an explanation for it ,” he says .
When Drag IllustrateD first visited Whitmore in 2010 to get the scoop on how he saved the fledgling bracket program one year earlier , Whitmore saved the most memorable part of the story for last , and it ’ s a tale that bears repeating . When Byrd first told Whitmore he needed to give the bracket program a name , Whitmore decided to call it the DER Bracket Series , which is Red spelled backwards .
This was a result of Whitmore ’ s young nephew , Matthew , who would only call him “ Uncle Der .” All the other kids called him Uncle Red , and Whitmore would even point to the color red and try to coax Matthew into saying the word , but when it came time to say , “ Uncle Red ,” Matthew simply wasn ’ t interested . “ Matthew is like 24 years old now , and of course , he calls me Uncle Red now , but for the longest time he would only call me Uncle Der , and nobody could figure out why !” laughs Whitmore .
When it comes to Bristol ’ s now-robust DER Bracket Series , the humorous title has certainly stood the test of time . “ I told them at the banquet last year that I ’ d like to make it 20 seasons , but then I paused when I realized that I ’ d be 80 years old ! Hey , I don ’ t know if I ’ ll make it to 80 , but I ’ m sure gonna give it a shot !” smiles Red . DI
Tisha Wilson , the 2022 PDRA Top Dragster world champion , pulling her son , Wyatt , into the beams .
November / December 2022 DragIllustrated . com | Drag Illustrated | 71