For a local racing career that spanned 16 years, Brian Danker was a fixture at the Oklahoma Sports Park.
Driving his familiar 3D Modified race car, Danker became a quick fan favorite. Those that knew him well said he had an infectious smile, an unbridled love for the thrill of racing and the heart of a lion.
Danker passed away in his home last March after a long illness. Thanks to the efforts of his wife, Kim Danker, and Oklahoma Sports Park General Manager George Welch, a modified race in his honor — the Brian Danker Memorial — has been scheduled for Saturday night at the local dirt track, located 10 miles northwest of Ada on state Highway 3W.
All regular races will also run as usual this weekend.
“I am sincerely in awe of how many loved my B,” Kim said. “We’ve had so many sponsors and donations for the race. It’s going to be a special night.”
Gates open at 5 p.m., with racing starting at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Danker not only loved to get behind the wheel, he also helped other folks get cars up and running. He was the longtime owner of TRS Transmission Repair in Oakman.
Late during his racing career, he battled several health issues.
“He fought his way back time and time again to climb back into that seat,” Kim said. “He loved to race so much that sometimes the only thing his family had to bribe him into going through one more (medical) procedure was making it back into his car.”
During the 2010 racing season, he suffered his second major heart attack. But thanks to the generosity of his racing buddies and peers, he returned to the track as quickly as doctors would allow.
“His racing family came together, as they always do, and raised enough money for Brian to not have to worry about how his insurance was going to be paid and gave him time to recover before opening the business back up. Brian went on to win three races in that year and even scored a Top 10 Modified jacket,” Kim said.
The Brian Danker Memorial is about paying it forward. Proceeds from Saturday’s festivities will benefit a racing family who may need help with medical expenses at some point down the road.
“Most drivers are self-employed, self-insured, and when they become ill or find themselves in an accident, their income is gone. While we all pray for safety in every race and always for good health, the truth is you just never know. Brian is proof of that,” Kim explained.
“In his honor and memory, we are raising money for the next racing family that is going to need help like we did in 2010. We want the money to be there, ready, so there is no need to plan another race,” she said.
A Brian Danker Memorial Fund has been set up at Vision Bank for those not able to attend Saturday’s race.
There hasn’t been a regular Modifieds race in a while at the Oklahoma Sports Park. But for this one night only, Welch is all wing racers to “run what they brung.”
“Money has been donated for the Modified purse and Danker Memorial trophy,” Kim said.
The night will be full of activities for the whole family.
“We will be selling Danker T-shirts, hoodies and memorabilia. There will be silent auction items, face painting and door prizes,” Kim said.
Chris Borges, another local racer, will motor around the track in Brian Danker’s 3D Modified car during a “Missing Man” lap. Fans will get a chance to say one final goodbye to Brian Danker during that special moment.
“Please come join us as we celebrate the life of a great man, an amazing driver, a husband, dad and grandpa whom we miss with every breath,” Kim said. “Let’s raise money for our racing family and have some good, family fun.”