I've watched Jackie Bryce busy assisting the Star Racing Team with George Bryce in the Winston camp of Angelle Seeling at NHRA events. I've watched Jackie Bryce busy controlling the Star Racing Team featuring racer Fred Collis without George Bryce at AMA Prostar events. Every where I've seen Jackie Bryce she has been busy, scurrying, promoting, waiting, mothering, talking, advising, coordinating, and helping…but one event I've never seen…Jackie Bryce sitting down.
Jackie somehow found time to invite me (Dwight) into the Star Racing motor home, while Gary Larsen was roaming the pit lanes with legendary racer Bo O'Brochta identifying old photos. Have a seat beside Jackie Bryce as I talk with this person so special to the racing world.
D-O-B: March 7,1958.
HOME TOWN: Americus, Georgia
How long have you been a tuner?
"I've been the crew chief this year, but I've been drag racing since 1978. I helped George. He would ask my opinion of setups, and I grew into the job."
How do you balance being a crew chief, a mother, a wife, and an owner?
"Very carefully. All of those things, I love to do. I work at the shop, and we have a staff that helps us there. I have road people to help me with the bike. We tune collectively. I have my mother to baby-sit Julie. George and I have been together since 1973. George is good at some things, and I'm good at other things. That's why it works."
What mental preparation do you have to get your bike ready for your rider?
"We have a sheet with all of our tuning specs. We double check and triple check. No hurt feelings if someone asks if something was done. We all agree."
Do you go more by your computer or by your gut feelings?
"75 % to 25%. I trust my computer. I've been around along time, but I don't depend on my gut feelings."
Do you use your weather data, or do you taste the air?
"Look at what the weather data tells us, and you can tell what the air is like. How you feel yourself is how the engine will feel. As George says…however you feel is how the motorcycle is breathing. Hot air…the engine runs hot. Brisk cool air…the engine runs cooler."
How do you get up when your performance gets down?
"I think about how hard our guys in the store work. I think how I can get it right, so their attitude is up about their performance. Behind the scenes guys don't get to come here, so I want them to feel a part of it. We have to get it right for them."
(This people stuff makes great teams.)
Who are your Heroes?
"My dad. We came from England with my parents in 1963 to the land of opportunity. I was five, my sister seven. We left our family behind. It didn't work at first. He persevered and proved he could do it. He sold copy machines and started his own multi-level business. I've told the story to children when I was teaching, only I left out what family left their homeland and family behind for an uncertain future in a land far away where they knew no one. Then I told the children that it was my father, and my family that risked this."
(Her eyes welled up with pride, and I felt a shiver. I let the moment pass and went on to the next question.)
What do you do to relax?
"With Julie. I used to be able to answer that question differently. I spend time with Julie. I don't have much time to relax.
Do you have time for a hobby?
"Julie's my hobby too. But we have started a local motorcycle drag racing organization."
Are you happy?
What could make you happier?
"To be able to spend more time with Julie and George. More family time."
When and where do you find the most peace in your life?
"I take Julie to the park. I don't have a time schedule. We're just playing."
What got you started in Motorcycle drag racing?
"George. I worked at a Harley shop when Harleys weren't cool. I was going to college at the time, and George got a KZ 1000. We fixed it up to get it to the drag strip. It took less money to get a motorcycle race ready, than a car."
"I've had to overcome a gender barrier. People would call and have to talk to George. You know, you're a girl, you don't know. I'd say, just ask the question. I'll try to find out. Now they call and WANT to talk to me. I enjoy helping others with racing, and helping our customers directly."
Because Jackie Bryce is a teacher, I could assign a word like philanthropic or altruistic to describe her giving ways, her disbursing of energy, but I prefer a simpler word. Just watching Jackie Bryce, you can tell she has a hold on the racing agenda. She not only holds on, she also reaches out. I had to find a special word for a special person. I found a worthy adjective, and we decided on a word that glows…