ELKHART LAKE, Erase. (AP) – Brandon Brown wanted a way to change the story behind the “Let’s go, Brandon” message after his first NASCAR win in his first career inadvertently promoted a chant used to insult President Joe Biden.
Brown found that new message thanks to the family of an 8-year-old child with autism.
Brandon Brundidge of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, was on a spring break to Houston in March and saw signs reading “Let’s go, Brandon.” Brundidge believed the signs were meant to encourage him. So he started trying activities he’d never tried before, like learning to swim and removing the training wheels from his bike.
His mother, Sheletta Brundidge, used that story to write a children’s book called “Brandon Spots His Sign.” Brown had for him the cover of Brundidge’s book on the hood of his Camaro Xfinity Series Race Saturday at Road America.
“For us to let this come through was a breakthrough moment,” Brown said. “This can be positive. This can be good. It does not have to be hateful or divisive.”
This division had started after Brown took his first NASCAR win last October.
The crowd at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway chanted “F—Joe Biden” during the post-race winner’s interview. NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast incorrectly told Brown that the fans chanted, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
From then on, “Let’s go, Brandon” became a rallying cry for Biden critics, with placards everywhere bearing that message. Brown unintentionally found himself in the middle of the firestorm that surrounded these chants.
“I just had hope that I could make something positive out of it, that I could get my name back and not have so much division and fear where it wouldn’t be a political statement for my friends and family to encourage me during a race,” said Brown.
That’s where the Brundidge family stepped in.
Sheletta Brundidge is the mother of four children, three of whom have autism. She has written children’s books focus on each of them. She said Brandon often dealt with social anxiety.
That changed when she saw all the “Let’s go, Brandon” signs and assumed people were cheering him on. He suddenly had a whole new attitude and wasn’t nearly as shy about trying new things.
“He literally wanted us to put flags in front of the house (with the words ‘Let’s Go Brandon’), recalls Sheletta Brundidge. “I’m like, ‘That’s not going to happen. We don’t hang these flags in front of the house.”
Brown heard about this book from his mother and invited the Brundidge family to Road America. They met each other in person for the first time this weekend, and the two Brandons became fast friends.
“It feels like I have a twin brother, but who is older than me,” Brandon Brundidge said.
The Brundidges handed out copies of “Brandon Spots His Sign” at Road America. The book’s cover design graced Brown’s car, although he was kicked out of the race on Saturday after being caught up in a car accident that left him under investigation and released from the care facility.
Finally someone found a way to unite the “Let’s go, Brandon” song instead of dividing it.
“I’m sorry for what you’ve been through this past year,” Sheletta Brundidge told Brown on Saturday. “I know it’s been terrible. But I’m so glad it happened because this kid wouldn’t have this breakthrough (otherwise). He would still be afraid to ride a bike without training wheels. He literally walks up to children and hands out this book. He would never have done that (before).
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