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|CDO:Chief Driving Officer/SafeWay Driving|
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Favorite TV Show:
|“Game of Thrones”|
|“The Case For A Creator,” by Lee Strobel|
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At 12 years-old, Brad was discovered at a Houston indoor karting center by a professional race team owner, and within a year he won three different major kart racing titles while competing across North America.
He moved up to big cars, and thanks to NASA and World Speed Motorsports, became the youngest professionally licensed racecar driver in history. NASA was the first professional license Coleman ever held and NASA’s Executive Director Jerry Kunzman remembers the moment well.
“Brad had just turned 14 and looked like he was only 12, but we watched him run some laps in a Formula Fran Am car and he was really impressive, so I agreed to put him in a race and that ended up jump-starting his career,” Kunzman said. “Brad raced all over California with us and was always a polite and respectful young man that NASA drivers enjoyed racing with, regardless of his age.”
While he continued running sports cars in Grand Am, he was intrigued by the opportunity stock cars presented at that time. Brad climbed the stock car ladder and won his first ARCA race at Kentucky Speedway at age 18. Soon after, he was signed to a contract on live radio at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City by Joe Gibbs Racing to compete in NASCAR.
To commemorate his first NASCAR race in his home state, Texas Governor Rick Perry summoned Brad and his racecar to the state Capitol in Austin and officially proclaimed it “Brad Coleman Day” on April 10, 2007, noting it was probably the first day in Texas ever named after a teenager.
He followed that notable start with one of the best rookie seasons ever logged by a NASCAR Nationwide driver, and a year later, raced in his first Sprint Cup race for Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman’s Hall of Fame Racing Team. Brad had now raced on every major race track in North America and Mexico, held several driving records and was on top of his racing career all by age 20.
In 2009, Coleman came off the track following a race at Nashville, removed his helmet and asked his dad, “What am I going to do one day when I am not driving racecars?” Bewildered by the question, his father, Brandon Coleman, asked what his passion was, other than driving racecars.
Turns out it was helping people become better drivers. Later that year, when he flew home to Houston to visit family and friends for the holidays, he visited SafeWay Driving Centers where he got his Texas driver license. Brad, Brandon and the school’s original founder, Gene Walker, talked about the future of the business. Brad’s passion and his favorite driving school owner’s need for a retirement plan collided at a fortunate time for both parties, and the Coleman’s acquired SafeWay Driving Centers in early 2010.
Now in the driving school business and back living in Charlotte, N.C., on the race circuit, Brad had two opportunities working, both involving his love for cars. Led by teammate Kyle Busch, Brad went on that year to help drive his Joe Gibbs Racing Team to the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Team Championship.
One would think a NASCAR Championship ring, the fame and the money would have satisfied any 22 year-old young man’s desires, but Brad knew there was more to life than racing.
“I knew God had other plans for my life,” noted Coleman. “I enjoyed racing and feel I really have a talent for wheeling fast cars, but I was never genuinely happy living in the world of motorsports. Sure, I had a lot of great friends in racing and enjoyed the travel and the perks, but it just never really felt right to me.”
That nagging feeling became reality, when following the NASCAR Championship Banquet, Coleman signed a new sponsor for the upcoming race season, only to have them cancel their sponsorship just days before the big press conference. While economic conditions in the country took its toll on many NASCAR sponsorships during that time, Coleman felt like God was sending him a clear personal message.
“Losing that big sponsor was a huge disappointment and big relief at the same time,” said Coleman. “While I love racing, I had been carrying that nagging feeling for a couple of years that God had other plans for my life, and boy did he!”
Without a sponsor for the upcoming race season, Coleman’s agents were seeking racing money while Brad was having other thoughts. Staying in touch with his father through emails and phone conferences, his passion for the driver education and training business was growing.
He resigned from his professional racing career and moved back to Texas in the summer of 2012 with one mission in mind, to save the lives of as many Texas drivers as possible by providing the best available training in the business.
In the first three years, SafeWay Driving Centers has implemented many major initiatives to modernize the driver training business and bring a higher quality of training to today’s drivers. Witnessing the early value the Coleman’s added to SafeWay and discovering the long range potential to help all Texas drivers, additional new investors teamed up to drive the company even further.
SafeWay is now poised to expand it’s reach beyond the Houston market through franchising and Brad is thankful to be a part of an organization that is truly making a difference in the lives of others.
When asked of his NASA experience, Coleman remembered it with a smile, noting, “I will never forget my first race in a real racecar on a real track. Thanks to Jerry Kunzman and the support of the NASA nation, I was provided the opportunity of a lifetime that I will always be grateful for.”