Wichita drag racer, part of nationally known racing family, dies at 50

Jim (left) and Brett Henry spent their summers match-racing each other in their fuel-altered roadsters.
Jim (left) and Brett Henry spent their summers match-racing each other in their fuel-altered roadsters. File photo

A nationally-known Wichita drag racer has died.

Brett Henry, 50, died from injuries he received in an accident Friday in the qualifying round of the Auto Club Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., according to www.Bakersfield.com.

He was immediately rushed to the Kern Medical Center where he died Sunday evening.

“Heaven gained another drag racer last night. Brett Henry was in a terrible accident, and did not make it,” Kansas International Dragway posted on its Facebook page Monday. “It won’t be the same without you …Rest in peace. God speed.”

Mr. Henry was the CEO of Henry’s Industries, Inc. (HIL). He and his brother, Brent, co founded the company in 1991.

Brett Carlton Henry was born April 21, 1967. He grew up in Maize and graduated from Maize High School. He received his bachelors in chemistry and business administration from Wichita State University, according to his company’s website.

He is survived by his wife, Laura, daughters Crystal and Faith and son, Wyatt.

The Henry family is an old-time drag racing family with roots stretching back to the mid-1960s. The first U.S. Nationals was held in Great Bend in 1955.

Brett Henry was a Fuel Altered racer, meaning his Iron Mistress AA was supercharged, nitro-burning.

“I knew him for a long time,” said Rob Holzman, owner of Holzman’s Race Cars. “I’ve known him and his dad for 30 years. His dad always raced and he always went to the race track with his dad. As he got older, it slowly turned into his dad raced less and he a little more. Both he and Brent got to where the dad wasn’t driving, but both boys were all the time.”

According to Dragzine Magazine’s website, dragzine.com, Mr. Henry had powered his car down as he neared the finish line but the throttle may have stayed open “sending Henry out of control and into the guardrail.”

Holzman said he learned of the accident this weekend as word began to spread on social media.

The Henry family, Holzman said, traveled and drag raced for fun – as a family activity.

“They were very big into it. The whole family went – the dad, sons, grandchildren,” Holzman said. “It was always a family outing when they would go out.”

Mr. Henry would race each March and October at the Bakersfield track and in some races on the East Coast.

“He was nationally known in certain circles,” Holzman said. “The type of racing he does, you seldom get much TV time but you do get magazine ink and are on the internet. He had become acquainted with people all over. The thing about Brett and me is that we race. We have tried racing for serious, for money, but you end up doing it strictly to have fun. The way the Henry’s were, it was something you could do as a family and have a good time doing it.

“Some families hunt and fish, they raced.”

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

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