Clyde and Ramona applied the same philosophy to building their business, CV Products, from scratch into a top motorsports supply house, with customers across the country and even overseas. In just 16 years, they, along with a partner, grew CV Products from a two-person business into one with 90 employees. Some afternoons Ramona would pick Brian up at day care and bring him back to her office, where she and Clyde worked into the night while Brian played. As he got older, Brian worked in the shipping department of the company, boxing parts for shipment. Later he worked in the shock room so he could learn how race car shocks work.
A zest for racing had surfaced early in Brian. By the time he was seven, he had saved enough from his allowance to buy a used go-kart. "And he tore up our yard," recalls Ramona with a chuckle. "We knew we had to take him somewhere so he could run it." Soon he was turning laps in the parking lot of CV Products, and by age eight, after encouragement from a family friend, he had his first taste of competition on a dirt track.
Dedication To The Cause
The rules were established early. Schoolwork came first. And no grades below a C. Once homework was finished, he could go work on his go-kart. In fact, that was another rule-he had to learn to work on his own equipment.
"He wanted to race so bad that he would have studied all night," says Ramona. By December of his senior year of high school, the dedication to school-or to racing, however you choose to view it-had paid dividends. Brian was ready to graduate early, and with the extra weight of honors classes, he finished with a 4.5 grade point average.
"We said C, but his goal was to never get a B, but that's just him," says his mother. "He always said, 'If you can't do it right, there's no sense in doing it.' And that's the way he felt about school and that's the way he feels about racing-all of his racing.
"He knows what he's got to do. He's always put his best foot forward. It goes right back to if you're not going to do it right and do the best you can, there's no sense in doing it at all."
There was plenty of racing mixed in with the school work. After winning 83 go-kart races and state and national events all up and down the East Coast before moving to The Allison Legacy series and becoming a winner there, he moved to Late Models in 1999 at age 15. He soon found Victory Lane at storied Hickory (North Carolina) Motor Speedway, becoming the youngest feature winner in Late Model Stocks at that bullring.
In 2000, months before his 17th birthday, he became the youngest winner in Hooters ProCup and counts that win among his favorites. He was Rookie of the Year in ProCup that year while winning twice, and competed on the circuit again in 2001, winning two more times. He also ran four Busch races that year for a family-owned team, and in 2002 the Vickers team competed in 21 Busch events, but a seventh at Richmond was one of the few highlights.
"In my first year in Busch, we struggled," recalls Vickers. "It was a brand-new team that wasn't a part of a big organization like Hendrick Motor- sports. It was hard. It was extremely hard. An athlete like that, you really question yourself. It's something that you've got to mentally overcome, and you just try to keep going. You can't give up. Every athlete has those years.