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Subaru Drive Performance Magazine : Families of Subaru Motorsports Teams: Bil, Tod, and Bret Spaude

Fifty years ago, Bil Spaude started something of a dynasty when he entered his first kart race. In his early 20s, he had no way of knowing how his passion for motorsports eventually would affect his son and grandson.

Meet three generations of Spaudes, all of them racers. Bil Spaude, who is the mayor of the City of Bushnell, Florida, is the patriarch – the grandfather. Tod Spaude – the father – operates the TSRacing.com SuperStore, which is a go-kart shop located in Bushnell. Bret Spaude is the son, who, along with Andrew Aquilante, co-drives the Subaru Road Racing Team (SRRT) #35 WRX STI in the GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge.

A Racing Family

Local Florida kart racers may have had their hands full with Bil 50 years ago, but when Tod came along a generation later, the family went national with its wins. Tod was hard to beat. But he didn’t exactly follow in his father’s footsteps … other than stepping into the seat of a racing kart.

 


In an interview with Drive Performance at Daytona International Speedway at the end of January 2012, Bil and Bret talked about the family’s involvement in racing: “When Tod was about 8, he decided he wanted to do it. I got him involved. Then when he started winning, I quit so that I could work with him because there wasn’t enough time to do everything with both of us running.”

Tod went on to win numerous championships.


“I never was a national champion,” continued Bil. “Local, state – stuff like that – but never national. Tod ran for a number of years. Then he got out of the racing part when he started his business. It had gotten to where it really wasn’t any fun for him or for his competitors because he pretty much dominated.


“I helped another fellow for another 10 or 12 years, and then Bret came along.”


As a child, Bret wasn’t interested in kart racing, even though he spent a lot of time at the track with his father and grandfather. His only interest was in flagging. Then he realized that the only way he was going to be able to play with his friends would be to race them, so he, too, took the wheel.


Bil filled in more of the history: “When Bret started, he was running dirt ovals – small tracks. You couldn’t run enduros – the big tracks – until you were 12 years old. When he was old enough to run the big tracks, his dad got involved again so he could build engines Bret could win with.”

Although from the same family, the three Spaudes have different approaches to racing. Bil and Bret have similar driving styles and requirements from Tod. Bil commented, “Bret and I drive similarly. We drive with what you give us.


“For Bret’s dad, it had to be perfect. If you touched the brakes in a go-kart, it had to stop. Right now. I wanted to stop when I got to the bumper of another kart.

“We’re just completely different. I drove what I had, and Bret drives whatever he has, too. For Tod, it’s got to be right. If it wasn’t right, he’d come in, park it, and say, ‘You’ve got to fix the brakes.’ I’d say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with the brakes.’ But he wouldn’t get back in the kart until we fixed the brakes the way he wanted them.”


Despite their divergent requirements for equipment, Bil was heavily involved in Tod’s racing career. Bil said, “We’d run nine different classes here at Daytona. We would hardly talk. I built lifts to lift up the kart. He’d push the kart in, and I’d have another kart there. He’d say, “Da-da-da-da-da.” I would start him, come back, and work on the kart.

“People thought we were mad at each other because we just didn’t talk. I knew what my job was. I did certain things. He did certain things. I didn’t do what he did. He didn’t do what I did.”


Bret added, “Two years ago, I did the same exact thing. I ran nine races in two days. I literally was in every race group except for one or two each day. There’s 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 45 minutes, 45 minutes, 30 minutes – you know, those are the race times. They’re all back-to-back.


“I’d get off the track, push the kart back, and the next one would be sitting there waiting for me. I’d go up and be waiting to start the next race and tell them what to go do with the other kart.


“I think Dad said he might have watched four laps of racing in two days. In and out, in and out.”


When asked who is the most competitive of the three, Bil replied, “Who wanted to win the most? Probably Tod. He was totally focused on what he did. Who’s the better driver? Probably Bret.”

 

Has Bil ever raced against Bret? Bil answered, “Once. There was no competition.”

For as long as Bret has been driving for SRRT, Bil has been in the paddock and pits with the team. He pitches in wherever he can, and he’s on the team radio when the drivers are on the track. Tod breaks away from the shop when he can, adding to the family support.


Bil commented on being involved at the track when his son and grandson were racing: “Since day one – from karting on through. In the last 40 years, I don’t think that I’ve missed but 10 or 15 times that either one of them were on the track.

“I don’t think I’ve missed any of Bret’s. Oh, I missed one because I was in Connecticut, and they went to Sebring, and they didn’t tell me.”


Bret added, “We decided the day after Thanksgiving, ‘What are we going to do?’ ‘Let’s go down to Sebring!’ That was an experience, because Dad wasn’t Grandpa. The checkered flag came out, and nobody knew it was coming out.”


Smiling, Bil responded, “We all have our roles.”


One of those roles for Bil is to talk with Bret while Bret was on the track. Bil explained, “In karting, I’d be in his ear all the time. From the time he was 12, we had radios. If I saw that someone was taking part of the track differently and was gaining time, I’d pass it on.”

With 50 years of history as a racing family, one event stands out for Bil, Tod, and Bret. Bil Spaude explained: “In 1999, we came to Daytona to do three generations on the same track the same day, which we didn’t know if anyone had ever done before – three generations that ran at different times. It ended up that Bret won his first race. I went out, and I won. Then Tod went out and won.


“In 2000, they put that go-kart in Daytona USA, which is still there. They had a ceremony – sort of like an induction-type thing.”

Subaru Motorsports Marketing Manager James Han commented on having the Spaude and Aquilante families involved in SRRT: “Coming from multi-generations of racers and people who have had success, it is an opportunity for each of the drivers to have a really strong support system. They have that type of interesting structure, where there’s an authority figure who they also can call, ‘Pop’ – someone who’s more than just a management person.


“It’s fairly unique in our business to have two drivers in that type of structure. It’s been pretty good.”


To which Bil responded, “It’s been fun on this side.”

Divergent Approaches

Strong Family Bond

Racing Highlight

An Overview of the Families in SRRT