Given everything he’s accomplished over the past handful of seasons, headlined by back-to-back Pro Lite titles in 2016 and 2017, and most recently the 2019 Pro 2 championship, it’s easy to forget that Jerett Brooks is only 22 years old. The Southern California native is one of short course off road’s brightest young stars, and his level of talent and the accolades that have followed are already well beyond his years. At the end of the day, Brooks is just scratching the surface of the potential that lies ahead in his career, and despite being one of the youngest drivers of an absolutely stacked Pro 2 field, the confidence and composure he exudes shows that he’s more than capable of defending his title when the 2020 season gets underway in just a few weeks.
You enjoyed quite a season in the 2019 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, collecting four wins en route to your first Pro 2 title. Can you describe what last season was like from your perspective?
From my perspective 2019 was a huge year for me. I had a little boy right after the first race at Glen Helen, which kind of made it stressful because my girlfriend was right at eight and a half months pregnant. So going into the first race was hectic, obviously. In the offseason we put a lot of time into testing the Pro 2 because I came off of winning in the Pro Lites, and going into the Pro 2 I struggled for two years. That’s kind of how it goes, but at the same time, winning so much going into Pro 2 and struggling to get top fives was just stressful on all of us. For 2019 we came in and did a lot of homework. We did pretty much everything we could do trying to get more speed out of the truck. We got a lot of help from other people, which kind of helped me out. So, we came out to the first round and I had a really fast truck. I won the first round by a long shot, which set the tone for the season. That was really cool to do.
The 2019 season marked your third year in Pro 2, and you’ve shown tremendous improvement with each year. What made the difference for you in 2019 to allow you to come out on top?
We went back to DOT certified tires, which was kind of my home ground with General Tire because DOT tires was what I ran in Pro Lite. And I kind of just did my homework a lot. We became buddies with Tanner Stevens, who used to be Brian Deegan’s main crew chief for like six years. He was Jeremy McGrath’s crew chief for a couple years. I became really good buddies with him and, honestly, he gave me a lot of the setup sheets and setup notes that kind of flipped the whole world around in my Pro 2. It made just a full night and day difference, which is crazy to say that just a little bit of setup helped. It was crazy. On top of that, we did a lot of testing with my motor builder, Kevin Kroyer, which got me more comfortable. It was kind of just a whole comfort thing. I kind of felt at home in the truck.
We assume you came into 2019 with one goal in mind, the championship. Despite all of the wins you had, it still all came down to the final weekend. What was it like for you going into the final round and how did you find a way to prevail?
It was a really stressful season. It was more frustrating because they had to split the class with the new 410 engine, and that added to the stress because you had to beat the regular Pro 2 field with the big motors, but on top of that you had to somehow catch these 410 trucks. You’re checked out on the regular Pro 2 trucks and you’re still pushing as hard as you possibly can, which caused me to make some mistakes at the end of the year and cost me in the points standings. It made it really stressful. So, coming into the last round I came in there going for broke. There was nothing really to lose. The only goal in mind was to win, so we wanted to charge as hard as we could, came in with a fast truck, and pulled it off.
You worked hard to eventually rise to the top of the class in Pro Lite, and since 2016 you’ve won three championships across two divisions. What do you attribute that ability to become the driver to beat, and does that make things harder for you when your expectations are so high?
It’s kind of funny you say that. In my head, I don’t even think I’m that guy, and I feel like most people, for some reason, don’t think I’m that guy either. I’m not sure why. People forget that I’ve won Pro Lite titles. I got back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017 and the other year I didn’t win by like four points. I was thinking about this today. I kind of like that, though. Knowing that I come to the race and everyone thinks I’m good and all, but I’m not like an RJ Anderson. I don’t have all these big sponsors. I have motivation from that. I know I’m a fast guy, I know I have the best team, so I would say it doesn’t really affect me at all. I just want to go out and win, be fast, and actually feel confident in the truck. That’s kind of the main thing that I’ve noticed. If you’re not comfortable in your truck and you’re struggling, then you’re pretty much going to struggle all weekend.
Now that we’re mere weeks until the start of the 2020 season, how have preparations for the new season been going? How do you feel about your chances at defending your title?
I feel very good. We brought everything back in house, where we have all new Baleigh Industrial tooling. It’s pretty cool. We brought Tanner Stevens on board this year officially, so that helps out a lot. We have Nick Tenbruin, he’s setup my truck and prepped it for five years now. We’re all pretty young. Tanner’s 29, Nick is 27, and I’m 22, so it’s pretty cool. We have a young group of guys and they all get along. We did a test session earlier this week and it went really good. I felt really good in the truck. We threw some changes at it and I’m feeling confident. I think we’re going to have a really fast truck this year.
Who would you like to thank for contributing to all your success in Pro 2?
I for sure want to give thanks to Bilstein. I’ve been with them since my first Pro Lite championship winning season in Lucas Oil Off Road. When I took the deal no one else wanted to take it because they were all skeptical about the Bilstein shocks. I want to give a big thanks to them for trusting in me and having me on board still. General Tire, they’ve been a huge contributor to everything. Their tires are are so awesome. I just want to give a shoutout to those two companies. Obviously, my family, for still coming out to the races and still supporting me. We’ll see how the next year goes!