James Bickford is our next guest on Fan4Racing Fan2Fan NASCAR & Race Talk on Monday, June 2nd at 9 pm ET. Call 347-996-5176 during the LIVE broadcast to interact with James Bickford and our Fan4Racing panel.
In his rookie year, James Bickford won NASCAR’s Whelen All American Series Late Model championship at All American Speedway in 2013. This season, Bickford is racing in the K&N Pro Series West, driving for Bob Bruncati Racing in the No. 6 Sunrise Ford. He replaces Derek Thorn, the reigning K&N West champion.
Bickford is exactly where he wants – making his dreams come true.
At age five, he started his racing career in Quarter Midgets and for the next six years he raced 48 weeks every season. He won 15 Quarter Midget championships – four local track championships, two NorCal championships, four regional championships, two California 500 championships, two Western States Monza championships and one Dirt Grand National championship. Overall, he won close to 200 main events.
In 2010 he raced a Bandolero car, moving on to a Legend car in 2011. Bickford won Rookie of the Year honors in INEX Legends that season and set a track record at All American Speedway (15.232). He had 11 first-place finishes in 19 races for his division and finished fourth in the point standings.
Bickford says his best advice is from his famous cousin, Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon who told him, “You have to first finish if you want to finish first.”
In the 2013 season Bickford transitioned to racing Late-Models in NASCAR’s Whelen All American Series. After only four starts, he earned his first Late-Model win on May 11, 2013.
On December 5th, 2013, Bickford went to Toyota Speedway at Irwindale to test for Bruncati.
“The test at Irwindale was phenomenal,” Bickford said. “I didn’t know anything about the track except for racing it on a simulator on my computer.
“I went out and on the first lap I thought it was pretty easy. I went full throttle. It was a lot different than racing my Late-Model. At the end, I ran a really fast lap (18.41), and I came close to beating the K&N Series track record a the track.”
Impressed with the 15-year-old driver’s test, Bob Bruncati was ready to take the next step. But there were other considerations to contend with before a move forward.
At one point, Bickford thought they should give up on racing in the K&N Series because of a lack of funding. Through his father Tom’s perseverance and others supporting him, they managed to get what they needed to support a contract between Bruncati and Bickford. The young Bickford found out about the K&N Pro Series deal with Bruncati via a text from his father while attending school.
With a two-year contract, Bickford believes it is important to drive in the K&N Series for that duration before considering his next career move. Turning 16 in March, he has another year before turning 17 years of age.
“I think it is preferrable to have at least two years experience in the K&N Pro Series before trying to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or the NASCAR Nationwide Series.”
Bickford says he feels confident that he can win Rookie of the Year in the K&N West Series, or perhaps a championship within his two-year window. Realizing, that’s a lot to count on, he says he’ll be satisfied to with a good overall performance.
Five races into the season, Bickford sits seventh in the K&N West point standings with one top-five to his credit. He finished fourth in the East meets West combo event at Iowa Speedway in May.
The K&N Pro Series West is racing next on June 21st at Sonoma Raceway in the Carneros 200 event.