Doug Herbert is a professional drag racer and owner of Doug Herbert Performance Parts. A resident of Cornelius, N.C., Herbert grew up in California and began racing in 1986. He made his first start on the IHRA circuit in 1991 and quickly racked up 20 event wins as well as four IHRA Top Fuel championships. Since 1991 Herbert, who is also an accomplished pilot, has competed in the NHRA. Doug founded B.R.A.K.E.S. in honor of his two sons, Jon, 17, and James, 12, who were killed in a tragic car crash in January 2008. In addition to owning and operating his high-performance parts business, Herbert continues to race on the NHRA circuit and is highly involved in the day-to-day activities of B.R.A.K.E.S.
Tom Cotter is a born automobile enthusiast who began repairing and selling cars during his teenage years. Tom founded his own company, The Cotter Group, which he built into the world’s largest motorsport marketing communications firm. The Cotter Group specializes in public relations, marketing, promotions, hospitality, licensing, publishing and consulting. Cotter is an active road racer and competes regularly in vintage sports car races around the country. He keeps a personal collection of approximately 40 vintage automobiles and sports cars. Cotter remains a contributing editor to “Road & Track” magazine as well as a media consultant for Mercedes-Benz. He lives in Davidson, N.C. with his wife, Pat, and son, Brian.
Steve Johnson is owner of Steve Johnson Racing and a Pro Stock Motorcycle driver in the NHRA. Johnson, who resides in Birmingham, AL, has raced on the NHRA circuit since 1987 and, in that time, has scored five career victories. In 2008, Johnson scored his second win at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, IN, which is the most prestigious event on the NHRA drag racing circuit, as well as a win at the inaugural NHRA Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. Johnson, who grew up in Granada Hills, CA, is known for his outgoing personality and his efforts to promote the sport of drag racing. Away from the track, he enjoys riding dirt bikes, scuba diving, golf and attending NASCAR races. For many years Johnson and Doug Herbert have been close friends and Johnson spent a good deal of time with Herbert’s sons, Jon and James, for whom B.R.A.K.E.S. was founded.
Jay Bilas is one of ESPN and ABC’s top basketball analysts and is widely recognized for his thorough knowledge of the game and his professional, clever style. Bilas provides expert color commentary form courtside on college basketball games, and serves as a studio analyst and as the co-host of ESPN’s popular studio show College Gamenight, where he skillfully breaks down games and players, including his use of the popular “Bilastrator” to diagram plays. He also writes for ESPN.com, and contributes numerous reports for ESPN SportsCenter. Since 2003, Bilas has provided in-depth player scouting and analysis for ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Draft. Sports Illustrated has named Bilas the best analyst in college basketball, as has the ACC Sports Journal, among others.
Francene Marie is a Radio & TV veteran who began her career at Kiss 95.1 with Beasley Media Group, PBS Charlotte and Fox News. Now the Media Queen is with Beasley Broadcasting Group continuing her weekly syndicated 1-hour talk show: The Francene Marie Show airs on a 7 station cluster: K104.7, Kiss 95.1, WSOC-FM, 6.10 Sports, 1660 Sports, WPEG-HD3 & WSOC-HD2. Francene is founder of My Media Tutor and Broadcasting Instructor with the Carolina School of Broadcasting. You can always catch this single mom of 2 adults on the microphone, in-studio, emceeing at black-tie-events, or on the public speaking circuit. She’s imbedded in the community repelling down 43 story buildings for Special Olympics North Carolina and other exciting adventures with Charlotte’s FBI Citizens Academy. This food bloggers claim to fame is her 3-time award winning Moonshine & Wine Chili. Her 20-plus years in broadcasting has afforded one-on-one interview opportunities with White House Officials from Vice President Joe Biden to Madeline Albright, some Hollywood favorites, local officials and organizations. Her new found love is B.R.A.K.E.S, “Put On The Brakes”, has opened her eyes to strongly advocate for safe teen drivers on every road in America.
Wanda Miller has held the position as President & General Manager of The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is one of the largest private clubs in the US for numerous years. Her duties included overseeing the finer dining restaurant and bar, membership sales, special event sales and marketing of The Speedway Club to NASCAR clientele, as well as corporate and social markets. Miller, who is originally from Gretna, VA, and graduated from James Madison University, was the first female to be named a Vice President at a NASCAR track. She lives in Davidson, N.C., with her family. She enjoys yoga and acupuncture and has interests in natural medicine, economics and politics.
Dave Dobson is a producer at ESPN Regional Television in Charlotte, North Carolina. A passionate racing fan from an early age, he has had the good fortune of working in Motorsports for ESPN and ABC since 1996. His ESPN resume includes coverage of NASCAR, Formula One, Indycar, and NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Dobson was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He graduated from Bowling Green State University, where he sang with the University Men’s Chorus and earned his varsity letter as the school mascot. He still makes frequent trips back home to visit family and friends – and to cheer on his beloved Cleveland Browns. Dobson lives in Charlotte with his wife and fellow singer, Susanna, and their two cats.
Patti Wheeler is the President and owner of Wheeler Television, Inc., a television production company specializing in motorsports for national broadcast and cable networks. She started her career at age 22 as a producer/director and later served as the Director of Motorsports and Executive Producer for TNN. Wheeler, was also the President of World Sports Enterprises which is the leading motorsports television production company in the U.S. Wheeler graduated from Belmont Abbey College and lives in Charlotte with her husband, Leo Hindery, Jr., and their two teenagers. She has been named one of NASCAR’s Top 25 Most Powerful People by the Charlotte Observer and was included on the Charlotte Business Journal list of Top Forty Under Forty.
Richard Paysor has over 50 years experience in various executive office and entepreneur endeavors. After eight years with a Big 8 CPA firm he became Vice President- Taxes and Governmental Affairs with a multi-national Fortune 500 Company. Leaving the public area after twelve years, he formed Trident Energy, First Capitol Associates and The Fairborne Group. These entities engaged in oil and gas exploration in Oklahoma, provided mid market merger and acuisition services and commercial real estate services for foreign investors. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer of Rusty Wallace, Inc- a diverse holding company involved in air transportation, auto dealerships and real estate ventures. He is a former Board Member of the Greater St. Loius United Way and The Darrell Gwynn Foundation. Mr Paysor is a graduate of Kent State university with a Bachlor of Science Degree in Business Administration.
Byard Stevens - Byard has over 25 years in the construction industry. Gaining experience in his fathers construction business early on in his career, he progressed through the ranks to Regional Project Manager with a major National General Contracting firm. Stevens is currently the Executive Director of the Carolina’s Concrete Masonry Association (CCMA) in Charlotte, NC. CCMA promotes the quality use of masonry materials and technical data as well as the economic advantages and many uses of concrete masonry units, designs and codes for residential and commercial concrete construction. CCMA is also involved in a broad range of research items, technical, educational, marketing, government relations and industry communications activities. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Management from Davenport University.
Heather Herbert is Doug Herbert’s sister and Jon and James’ aunt. Heather is one of the B.R.A.K.E.S. charities founding board members. She is a lawyer ( JAG- Judge Advocate General ) and active duty Major in the United States Army currently stationed at Schofield Barracks, HI. She is married to Lt. Colonel Michael Binetti and they have two children.
Carolyn Bechtel is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, with particular strengths in networking. She has been a board director at Victory Junction Camp in North Carolina from its inception, and serves as the VJC representative on the Serious Fun Children’s Network board of directors, and is and active volunteer counselor during summer sessions at the camp. A long time member of the Duke Cancer Institute board of advisors, she is keenly aware of the healing effects of positive experiences and support these camps provide. Carolyn is a founding strategic partner of CORD:USE Cord Blood Bank and is a director of New York-based “sweetriot” – a free trade, organic dark chocolate and healthy snack company. Carolyn currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is active as a licensed real estate agent.
Jennifer Marion Mills currently serves as Director of Advertising at Randy Marion Automotive. A member of Williamson Chapel United Methodist Church, Mooresville, NC; Jennifer is married to former NC House Representative for the 95th District, Gray Mills and together they have 3 children.
Bob Sanchez Bio and photo coming soon.
Brian is a currently managing member of the accounting firm Daniel Ratliff and Company and has practiced public accounting for over 25 years, and has served a wide array of private companies, specializing in clients with less than $50 million in revenues. His industry experience includes, among others, hotels, construction companies, retail businesses, medical offices, and professional services.
Brian assists clients in using their financial statements to better manage their business and also helps clients in implementing and maximizing the use of their accounting software. He is a QuickBooks professional advisor, teaches QuickBooks at Central Piedmont Community College, and sets up and trains QuickBooks software for clients. Brian’s responsibilities also include preparing compiled financial statements, assisting clients with general ledger, unadjusted trial balance, and budgeting issues, and providing various general business and tax consulting services.
Brian is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, and is a Certified QuickBooks Professional Advisor. He is currently serving as the Treasurer of The Lake Norman Jewish Congregation and on the board of directors of Befcor (Business Expansion Funding Corp) as well as being a board advisor to Put on the Brakes. Brian is also a past Associate Committee Member for the Inventor’s Network of the Carolinas and was a board advisor to Charlotte Regional Sports Commission.
Mickey Aberman has been a business lawyer for approximately 30 years. His practice mainly deals with contracts, technology, finance, taxes, and with people buying, selling and expanding businesses. Mickey has three children. Alex and Kate have gone through the BRAKES program and Layla will do so after she learns how to drive. Mickey is also a licensed pilot, a pretty good amateur economist, and he enjoys golf, fishing and playing music when he has time. In addition, Mickey is co-owner of Visart Video, which has over 31,000 movie and TV titles. Mickey gives time to BRAKES because it is critically effective.
Ask even the most casual of motor sports fans who the biggest name in drag racing is and you are almost always sure to hear one name- Don “The Snake” Prudhomme. A true legend of the sport, Snake’s remarkable career began in 1962 with his first Top Fuel victory at “Smokers March Meet” in Bakersfield, Calif., before ending with 49 NHRA career victories- the sixth most in NHRA history- following his farewell “Final Strike Tour” in 1984. For his career, Prudhomme reached the finals 68 times, posting a remarkable 35 wins in 45 Funny Car finals rounds (.609 win percentage). Overall, he won 389 0f 589 rounds of competition for a .660 winning percentage.
Is an American drag racer who changed the sport with his Mattel Hot Wheels marketing program and won the NHRA U.S. Nationals during part of his 45 year career. He is listed as number 16 of the 50 most significant drivers of NHRA’s first 50 years. He recieved the nickname “the Mongoose” in 1964 from engine builder Ed Donovan. It was largely riginally used as a device to entice Don “The Snake” Prudhomme into a high-exposure match race.
McEwen won only five NHRA national events during his 45- plus-year career, but McEwen’s gift for gab and promotional ability made him one of the sport’s most influential and controversial figures.
As stated by Roland Leong, “McEwen was the smartest of the bunch. When he came up with the Hot Wheels deal using the Snake and Mongoose characters, it shook the world of drag racing big time. He produced a sponsorship package that allowed him and Prudhomme to buy the best equipment, pay expenses, make money and sell their image all over the United States. I hate to admit it but McEwen and Prudhomme showed us the way to the future. They were a lot smarter than most of us who didn’t see past the end of the quarter-mile.”
Is a NHRA World Champion Drag Racer, growing up racing with his father Jerry (Also a NHRA World Champion) Darrell has been involved in drag racing for his entire life and has been friends with B.R.A.K.E.S. founder Doug Herbert for over 30 years.
When Darrell Gwynn began his racing career in 1980 in the Alcohol Dragster category of the National Hot Rod Association, he attacked the sport with fierce determination. The fire burned in his eyes at the mere thought of his next round of competition. There was always another barrier to overcome. It finally got to the point where Gwynn would not just overcome barriers, but actually knock them down. As his sportsman victories began to mount, people, especially competitors noticed. Big time sponsors noticed. Everything fell into place for the “kid”. Gwynn won three times in 1981. He added two wins apiece in 1982 and 1983 and three wins in 1984. Not only did Darrell have 10 wins as an Alcohol Dragster, he also was the Top Alcohol Dragster World Champion in 1983.
Darrell jumped to NHRA Top Fuel Dragster in 1986 and he was the talk of the class. Winning 18 times in the ultra competitive NHRA Top Fuel class, Darrell proved he was a winner.
Fate took Gwynn to England in April of 1990. In an exhibition race at Santa Pod Raceway his dragster suddenly broke and veered left into the retaining wall at halftrack at approximately 240mph, causing major life-threatening injuries to the 28-year-old driver. A terrific battle of faith and determination allowed Gwynn to survive the ordeal, he was left paralyzed and he lost his left arm. Given this unfortunate event, one thing that never changed was his willingness to meet challenges head-on and to live life on his terms.
The B.R.A.K.E.S. Charity is pleased to have Darrell as an Honorary Board Member.