Brandon McLain - Emma

Sunday, June 26, 2016
Hemby Bridge, NC – The USCS Friday night portion of the Randy Helton Memorial at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, AL came to a sudden halt when a dangerous lightning storm came barreling through town demanding that everyone seek cover or else…

With everyone running to their toterhomes to seek shelter from potential tornados, I gazed down pit road to find Anthony Nicholson and father jacking their dually into four-wheel drive in hopes of clearing that high-banked backstretch in search of safer pastures. Me being a one man crew, driver, and fan this particular weekend, I begged Gray and Willingham to help me load my car before I got stuck for the night.

As I rest on the outside of turn two watching hail destroy the track for the night, I try to get up the courage to text my new boss to spare me a Saturday so I can show these guys what I’m made of.

But I can’t press the send button. I’ve been given the opportunity of a lifetime with this new job and I can’t screw it up.

So… instead I text dad and mom that I’m heading home. The car is in one piece and I made money tonight! Car owners will understand that joke!

It’s a seven hour trip home and The Allman Brothers Band with Sweet Melissa and Midnight Rider can only get you so far. If anyone follows me on social media, you know that sprint car racing takes a back seat to Emma, a Boston Terrier, that loves winged sprint cars as much as I do. My motivation the last hundred miles from Gaffney to the Trail is walking up my back porch steps to see her barking violently through the glass French doors for leaving her ass at home.
My time on the company clock comes to an end at 6PM on Saturday and I head to the shop to unload my car and set up internet connection to follow the Wesley show on Facebook and cheer on the bigger and younger brother.

Jacob didn’t do the greatest in his heat race… Emma and I were pacing back and forth outside pissed, begging Jake to pick up the cell so we could give him back seat driver advice. Jake never answered and the internet connection went dead for a few.

Fifteen minute later, Wesley’s voice came alive and Jacob was in the top ten. I’m jumping in excitement, banging softly on wing panels, punching wind while Emma is following my every move barking as loud as she can.

I never thought that would be her last race.

A few days later, she started breathing heavy and looked uncomfortable. We rushed her to the vet and they said her lungs were filled with fluid. It was only a matter of time. We signed the papers to have her put away comfortably. We wanted to see her one more time before they put her down.

She decided to go on her own terms though…She looked at each one of us…. Gave a slight smile, then laid down to rest.

I’ve received a lot of request to write about all my racing experiences because some of you enjoy reading them. When I was on my way home from Phenix City, I really didn’t have a decent story line. When Emma passed away, I really wanted to write something for her. Even if its not that great a story, I’ll still remember that last time her and I cheered on a sprint car race together.
This story has come to an end and has I lay my head down on top of this foldout table full of engine parts, I can still see her chillin against my leg…

“Emma… I’m tired, but Im not giving up. Lets go home.”