NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Brandon Miller is learning the ropes as a Pro and winning as a Sportsman racer

At just 19 years of age, Brandon Miller has already earned two division championships, a JEGS Allstars title, and two national event wins. Miller is making good use of his time, and most recently, he claimed the Top Sportsman trophy in Charlotte — where he was also competing in the second Pro Stock race of his young career.
15 May 2023
Kelly Wade
Brandon Miller

Not that he's in a hurry, but Brandon Miller is a guy who sure doesn't seem to waste any time. At just 19 years of age, the Canterbury, Conn., resident has already earned two NHRA Northeast Division championships, the JEGS Allstars Top Dragster trophy, and two Top Sportsman national event wins — including the very first one he entered. His most recent victory on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour came at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, where he was simultaneously continuing his early education in Pro Stock. He's young, but he's efficient, and Miller is quickly proving he's got a firm handle on multi-tasking.

"It was pretty hectic [in Charlotte]," said Miller. "But we went with the intention of making improvements in Pro Stock and doing really good in Top Sportsman, and we felt like it went pretty well. We made huge gains with the Pro Stock car, and even though we still have a lot of room for improvement, we're getting there."

Miller, a former NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League competitor, made his Pro Stock debut last fall at Maple Grove Raceway in a '17 Dodge Dart purchased from Dave Kramer and previously piloted by Kramer's son, Deric. The HEMI under the hood is a Roy Johnson-built powerplant, for the time being, as the small team continues to dip their collective toes in the well-populated factory hot rod class. 

Although excited to be part of Pro Stock, Miller and his family — including dad Dave and mom Becki — have had other irons in the drag racing fire, and the Dart hadn't seen the light of day since they rolled it back into the trailer after their first race at Maple Grove Raceway. They weren't actually intending to race the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, but the weekend before, Miller whisked out the cobwebs and raced the Dodge in Outlaw 632 at an event held at Virginia Motorsports Park. He was also racing his dad's Chevy S-10 in Top Sportsman there, and he took it all the way to the final. Suddenly, the Miller family had a change of heart.

"It was a last-minute decision, but we had them both in the trailer," said Miller. "It was like, 'I might as well run both in Charlotte.' We never even looked at the weather. We just decided to sign up and go."

They were aware that with 23 cars entered, it was unlikely they would make the Pro Stock field, but Miller was eager for all the practice he could get. He showed steady improvement behind the wheel, and after getting an introduction to the complexities of four-wide staging in the first qualifying session (where he produced a -.296-second reaction time), he steadily improved his starting-line results with a .044 light in the second session, .023 in Q3, and .011 in the final qualifier. The bump was a 6.596 that Miller's best time of 6.721 could not match, but after the Pro Stocker was put away for the weekend, he had plenty more to attend to at zMAX Dragway. 

Just one weekend before the final-round finish in Virginia, Miller started his NHRA season with a Top Sportsman win at Cecil County Dragway at the Division 1 opener. He's near-perfect in Top Sportsman this season, but most of his previous success has come in Top Dragster, including both of his division championships (2021 and 2022) and the JEGS Allstars win last season.

"After winning back-to-back championships in Division 1, I figured I'd give the dragster a break," said Miller. "The [Top Sportsman] truck is my dad's; he built it himself in 2010 and 2011, and he's won a few races with it — including the Epping national [in 2019]. I love dragsters, I've won in dragsters, and I have my own dragster — I love that thing — but there's something different about door cars. I really enjoy driving a door car."

The reason for that particular affinity could have something to do with the fact that Miller's first taste of victory came early and, yes, in a race car with doors. 

On his 16th birthday, Miller licensed in a dragster and ran it locally from August to October — mostly at New England Dragway. In the early summer of 2020, just to leave no stone unturned, he licensed in the family's Top Sportsman '63 Corvette. The following season, Miller was looking to make his national event debut in Top Dragster — but the class wasn't on the schedule for the NHRA Gatornationals. So, with a Top Sportsman license handily already in possession, he entered the alternate class. 

"But we looked at the field and realized that with the 632 [engine] we had in it, going 7.20s wasn't going to qualify," said Miller. "So, we made a very last-minute change and put a big motor in it, tested it in Orlando [Fla.] the weekend before Gainesville, and it was going 7.0s. That got us in, and I was 17 years old and won the Gators at my first national event. That was it." 

After such an incredible start to this season in the S-10, Miller said he's going to "chase around the division" for the remainder of the year in Top Sportsman, though he admitted he may chase the world title. As for Pro Stock, he detailed that they'll continue to test throughout the summer and then definitely return to Maple Grove Raceway for the national event this fall, with a couple of other races possibly on the horizon. He'll also bracket race as much as possible in his '78 Chevy Malibu, a car powered by a small block he revamped on his own. 

"Our summers are packed full, but I love it," said Miller. "We're having a blast. I'm just glad to be here."