ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Brandon Brown wanted a way to change the narrative behind the “Let’s go, Brandon” message after his first career NASCAR victory inadvertently favored a chant that was used to insult President Joe Biden.
Brown found this new message through the family of an 8-year-old boy with autism.
Brandon Brundidge of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, was on a spring break trip to Houston in March and saw signs with the phrase “Let’s go, Brandon.” He believed the signs were meant to encourage him. So he started trying things he had never tried before, like learning to swim and getting the training wheels off his bike.
His mother, Sheletta Brundidge, used this story to write a children’s book called “Brandon Spots His Sign”. Brown had Brundidge’s book cover on the hood of his Camaro for his Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Road America.
“For that to happen, it was like that watershed moment for us,” Brown said. “It can be positive. It can be good. It doesn’t have to be hateful or divisive.
This split had begun after Brown earned his first career NASCAR victory last October.
The crowd at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama chanted “F—Joe Biden” during the winner’s post-race interview. NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast incorrectly told Brown as fans chanted, “Let’s go, Brandon.”
From then on, “Let’s go, Brandon,” became a rallying cry for Biden critics, with signs bearing that message popping up everywhere. Brown found himself unwittingly in the middle of the firestorm that surrounded these chants.
“I just hoped I could make it a positive, I could get my name back and not make it so divisive and scary, where it wouldn’t be a political statement for my friends and family to cheer me on during a race Brown said.
This is where the Brundidge family came in.
Sheletta Brundidge is a mother of four children, three of whom have autism. She wrote children’s books focusing on each of them. She said Brandon often dealt with social anxiety.
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That changed after seeing all the “Let’s Go, Brandon” signs and assuming people were cheering him on. He suddenly had a whole new attitude and wasn’t so shy about trying new things.
“He literally wanted us to put flags in front of the house. [saying], “Let’s go Brandon,” recalls Sheletta Brundidge. “I’m like, ‘That’s not going to happen. We’re not putting 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 in person for the first time over the weekend, and the two Brandons quickly became friends.
“I feel like I have a twin brother who is older than me,” Brandon Brundidge said.
The Brundidges were handing out copies of “Brandon Spots His Sign” at Road America. The book cover design decorated Brown’s car, although he was eliminated from Saturday’s race after being caught in a multi-car wreck which led to him being examined and released from the care center in the field.
Finally, someone found a way to make the “Let’s Go, Brandon” chant unite rather than divide.
“I’m sorry for what you’ve been through for the past year,” Sheletta Brundidge told Brown on Saturday. “I know it was awful. But I’m so glad it happened ’cause that kid wouldn’t have that breakthrough [otherwise]. He would always be afraid to ride a bike without training wheels. He literally approaches the children and distributes this book to them. He would never have done that [before].”