Tyler Bohannon and Brian Whitworth have always wanted to promote a race together but could never find the right time. Fast forward to 2020 and here they are.
TB Promotions is bringing two Race Derby City events, the Derby City $50K and the Derby City $100K, to Ohio Valley Dragway for the 2020 racing season. After a successful $100K event last year, the team is excited to see what 2020 will bring.
The Derby City 100K was a popular event last year that took place at Ohio Valley Dragway in Louisville, Kentucky. It was the first event Tyler Bohannon had ever promoted. The weekend turned out to be unbelievably successful and racers were already asking for another event in 2020.
Bohannon thought on it for a few days and started debating with Whitworth on what they were going to do next. The support after the event showed that there were actually a group of racers that wanted another event, so Race Derby City was created and The Derby City 50K and The Derby City 100K were on the board for the 2020 season!
Bohannon’s first time in a junior dragster was at US60 in Hardinsburg, Kentucky when he was seven years old. Right before his first run, a random kid walked up and gave him a hat.
“I wasn’t sure why he gave it to him, and it was an ugly hat, but some cool older kid gave it to me, so I kept it,” Bohannon stated.
That “cool older kid” was Brian Whitworth. Who knew a simple hat would spark a friendship that would last forever. Over the years, the two talked racing on and off but it wasn’t until a few years later they became close.
Chuck Bohannon, Tyler’s dad, had just finished a four-year restoration on a big block 396 ’69 Camaro. On a Saturday night at a Stock/Super Stock Combo at Ohio Valley, Chuck brought out the Corvette and that Camaro to the track. He planned on testing the Camaro and racing the Corvette, but then had a different idea.
Brian had walked over to talk to Chuck for a few minutes about the new car. At the time, he was more friends with Chuck than he was Tyler because of the seven-year age difference between the two of them. After the conversation, Tyler suggested putting Brian in the Camaro since he wasn’t old enough yet.
“In what could’ve been Dad’s worst decision he had ever made, he went and found Brian and told him to drive the car in the Combo so we could get some extra laps on it,” Tyler laughed. “Brian, of course, didn’t need any convincing and hopped right in.”
After that night, the two became inseparable and the Bohannon’s could never seem to get rid of him. Five nights a week, Brian would pick Tyler up when he got home from school and they would go race slot cars.
That turned into Tyler’s uncle Joey buying a bracket car, which Tyler and Brian proceeded to steal, and they would spend every day they could working on it then race it Friday nights at Hardinsburg.
“I was only 14 at the time and that was the track I could race at without them complaining about my age,” Bohannon stated. “I could go on and on about me and Brian, but not much has changed since then and that’s how I gained one of the best friends anyone could ask for!”
Bohannon and Whitworth formed TB Promotions in 2019 after the Derby City $100K event in September. The two work good together, one does what the other one doesn’t.
“Whatever I’m not good at, he is and the things he struggles with I can make up for,” Tyler stated. “I’m a good people person; I enjoy talking to people and working with him. However, I haven’t learned a lot about the business side of things and that is something Brian is really good with.”
Given their friendship and years of knowing each other, they have disagreements just like all partners do. Right now, with the pandemic and scheduling conflicts, the two of them struggle to find the best way to go with the events. In the end, they find a way to create a plan and move forward.
When promoting a race and taking months to prepare for the events in advance, a lot of roles come up that need to be handled. Bohannon is the “people person” while Whitworth is the business guy. Tyler takes the ideas they came up with together and finds the best way to deliver them to the racers.
“I enjoy interacting with each one of them and learning what they do or don’t like in a race to better our events,” Bohannon stated.
Brian does more of the “behind the scenes” work with the business side of things.
“He handles all the hard stuff so that I can do the things I enjoy doing,” Bohannon stated. “If I have an idea for something I would like to add to the race, even if it’s not affordable, he does the research and finds a way to make it work.”
From the promotional side, a lot of people have helped TB Promotions get to where they are so far. Not only current promoters but the racers have helped them a ton also. Bohannon is constantly in contact with racers to see what they think about certain ideas they have.
“I think that getting an opinion from racers can be the best gauge on if an idea should become a reality,” he stated. “We’ve also had a lot of companies come on board this year who believe that our events have what it takes to showcase their companies.”
Tyler and Brian’s favorite part of it all is when all the hard work pays off. Even the little wins mean a lot to them, or when an idea they have been working and tweaking for weeks comes out to be an instant hit.
“There’s no better feeling than seeing racers react in a positive way to the things you have worked so hard on” Bohannon stated. “For me personally, it’s giving something to the racers that I have always wanted in a race.”
Race Derby City has a ton to offer to the racers this year. Both events are packed full of small things within the race that creates that big scale feeling on a smaller scale budget.
“We created two races that we as racers would want to enter ourselves,” Tyler stated. “We’re giving away a brand-new car, over a quarter million in payout and prizes, all while keeping it affordable to every group of racers.”
The Derby City $50K is June 11-14 and the Derby City $100K is September 10-13, both located at Ohio Valley Dragway in Louisville, Kentucky. Visit racederbycity.com for more details on their upcoming events!
About the author: Megan Strassweg is a 22 year old Super Comp racer from Louisville, Kentucky. She races a 2015 American Dragster sponsored by Coolshirt Systems. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May of 2020 with a degree in Photojournalism and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Megan works at Jim Butner Auto in the Finance Department. Growing up at the racetrack, drag racing is all she has known and never plans to give up on it.