Berry Is Lights Out In Drive To IMCA Modified National Crown

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IMCA Modified National Champion Tom Berry Jr. (Tom Macht Photo)
IMCA Modified National Champion Tom Berry Jr. (Tom Macht Photo)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Tom Berry Jr. saw it as a sign from above when the lights went dark at Marshalltown Speedway.

Qualified but in the trailer with more damage than he had time to fix, Berry got a reprieve when the electricity went out before that evening’s IMCA features could be run.

Knowing his father must be looking down and smiling, Berry came back to town two weeks later, finishing second in the make-up race and winning the scheduled event.

That Friday night provided a foundation for Berry’s drive to the IMCA Modified national championship. He’d win 21 of his 47 starts in all, complementing the Marshalltown crown with Stuart Speedway and KMJ Performance Iowa State titles while repeating as Side Biter Chassis North Central Region king.

“There were a couple nights when things happened like that and we wondered if they were signs or omens or what,” said Berry, now from Des Moines.

“I had drawn 66 the night I won the Speed Shift TV Dirt Knights Tour at Benton County Speedway, which was my 20th win of the season and gave me a perfect score. There was great footage and a great interview on Dirt Knights,” he continued. “Benton County was the last track I won at with my dad, and he would have been 66 this year.”

He also remembered crew chief Colby Reid’s mother Tara Lynn Beshey, who died of breast cancer in 2013, this season with the message Never Give Up on the back panel.

In a Razor Chassis since late 2016 and primarily backed by Brodehl Trucking since 2018, Berry made his first six starts of the season in January during Winter Nationals at Arizona’s Cocopah Speedway.

He was at work or working on a new car before tracks in the Midwest opened in the spring. Berry went on a tear that saw him in victory lane six straight nights from July 17 to the end of the month and getting first-ever wins at Marshalltown, Stuart and at Kossuth County Speedway’s Gary Harken Memorial.

The Dirt Knights checkers came in the 100th event in tour history and in Berry’s 37th North Central Region start of the season; his final win of 2020 came at Marshalltown’s Showdown at MoTown.

“There is no secret to success. We pushed ourselves, we had a real good car and we put a lot of effort into our program,” he said. “When the big shows come up, you know what you’ve got because you’ve been racing against so many good drivers weekly.”

Berry started racing outlaw cage karts in his home state of Oregon, then went straight to a Modified at the age of 15. His father died three years ago and sponsor Brian Brodehl stepped in as a life mentor.

“Moving to North Dakota was big. It was my first job where I didn’t work for family,” said Berry, now working at a trucking company in Des Moines. “I learned it wasn’t easy working 50 hours a week and racing. Colby and I have both adopted Brian’s work ethic and our race program shows that.”

Nine of his wins this season came at Marshalltown, six at Benton County, four at Stuart and one each at Hancock County Speedway and at Algona. He didn’t race any track regularly on Saturday, going to Boone as a spectator, grilling with the guys or getting the car ready for the week.

Berry was a qualifying feature winner at the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s, where he finished fourth, and at Batesville Motor Speedway’s Race For Hope 71, finishing third.

The highlight he pointed to, however, came out of the shop.

“We did not break once this season. Our four DNF’s were wrecks or flats,” Berry pointed out. “That says a lot about our race program.”