By Melissa Sullivan
We get asked all the time, “What does BRAAAAP mean?”. The short answer is, “it’s an engine sound”, but to be honest it is so much more than a sound. It’s a hobby, a lifestyle, a form of therapy, and I can’t stress this enough, a family, and a whole lot of fun. My husband Chris and I both grew up in northern Michigan and enjoyed spending time on the trails. I traveled them by horseback while he traveled them with horsepower. From the time we met in 2008 till now we’ve traveled thousands of miles together on those same trails riding: Snowmobile, truck, ATV, Jeep or SXS. Turns out that I am just as into the horsepower as he is! The name “I’d Brap That” came when I was with a girlfriend in a store and saw a shirt that said, “I’d Tap That”. I looked at her and laughed and then said “I’d Brap That”. I knew right at that moment I had to do something with it, and I created the Facebook Page in the parking lot that day. So, I really do look at places and think, “I’d Brap That” meaning I would ride there or that ORV. Now my husband and I enjoy riding and racing our SXS all over Michigan fully emerged in the BRAAAAP lifestyle.
Once we had the name it all took off. You may be familiar with the Michigan SXS YouTube Channel I’d Brap that, where we invite you to follow us around the tracks and through the trails of Michigan. We also post videos of ORV fundraiser and racing events that we host and attend. In addition to our website, early on in our riding adventures, I created a meme with the hand signals you should use, letting people know how many are behind you in the trails. I felt this was important because all the trails here are two-way traffic and I knew it was from past experiences that accidents are very possible. We were very happy to see that “Use your head, use your hands!” went viral. In fact, it is still shared on riding pages across the country today.
In 2016 Chris and I helped keep a beloved St. Helen event Called the St Helen ORV Jam going with the help of a wonderful group of volunteers, we started to fall in love with planning and organizing off road racing events. I am proud to call The St. Helen ORV Jam our flagship event; how it all got started for us. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing but it all worked. Each year we looked back and figured out how we could keep improving it. We noticed that even before the spectators had cleared out, we were already discussing plans to make it bigger and better. It has been quite an adventure and we’ve loved every minute of it. Let’s face it we were hooked.
Chasing this dream together didn’t just challenge us physically, BRAAAAP has changed us for the better. For example, we quit smoking cold turkey together, to make room in our budget for a new SXS. In 2018, we finally bought our dream SXS a brand new 2018 Arctic Cat Wildcat XX. Pretty much if we were not sleeping or working, we were riding the trails near our home in Roscommon County. In St Helen, as with most places, there was a lot of trail traffic, especially on holiday weekends. Unfortunately, because of the traffic we experienced our first trail accident on Memorial Day weekend. We were heading to Houghton Lake on Trail 6, just a few miles into our ride coming around a tight corner, another SXS was coming the opposite way. We saw them in plenty of time, but sadly they panicked, braked, and just slid in the deep sand. We collided with them at about 25mph. Our brand-new machine was only about a week old, and we had a wreck. We were devastated but fortunately no one was hurt, and it was only parts that needed replacing. In the long run it gave us a chance to make it better. Chris made it the most unique Wildcat XX, with a custom-built cage and a custom set of decals.
Chris Definitely had the need for speed and loved driving aggressively through the trails. I was not used to being the passenger and I will admit not having control was not my favorite part. I am sure Chris would agree with that one. After our accident I was a bit nervous and in the heat of one ride I shouted, “If you’re going to drive this thing like a race car why don’t you just race it?!”. Chris took me up on the idea and we found a SXS short course race series in Alma, Michigan. By this time, I learned to love driving just as much as being a passenger, so we shared the SXS and both raced, Chris, was much more excited and qualified for the racing; but I was just as excited for the experience. I remember sitting there at the starting line for the very first time scared, doubting myself. Then suddenly, the flag dropped, I stomped on the gas pedal and all of that doubt and fear went away. All I could think about was the rush of ripping around the tight turns and hitting the jumps. All I could focus on was what was right in front of me. My mind was quiet, I was only in that moment, which made it even more exciting. When I finished the race I remember being so proud of myself, that along with the adrenaline rush I finally understood why Chris called it Throttle Therapy. Boy was it.
Although I was used to competing all my past was with horse shows, so this was a different experience for me. At that first race I was the only woman competing, but I was hoping to get more women interested and involved in the sport of SXS racing; so we could have a women’s class. I didn’t mind racing the guys, but I really wasn’t up to their level quite yet. I didn’t have much luck and I finished out the season as the first and only woman in the Kress Training Complex SXS Series.
I loved that race so much I convinced my Make a Wish Foundation fundraising team to host a ORV trail ride. Little did I know what that first fundraiser ride would turn into. My team and I worked with a Powersports dealership in Harrison, Michigan and had a fantastic turnout for the ride. We raised $1400 for our cause! I realized right there that I could do what I loved and help other great organizations at the same time. We had experience in fundraising and often 1 ORV event would raise more money than 3 or 4 other events combined. We had a blast while we were doing it! The next annual fundraiser started in 2017 when we added our annual fall ORV fun run to raise money for Claws and Paws Rescue, a local foster-based rescue organization out of West Branch MI. We have raised over $7000, along with truckloads of food and supplies, for the rescue with our friends from the ORV community. I loved being able to bring people together for a cause that I love and help organizations raise much needed funds. People can do what they love and raise money for a great cause at the same time. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
That first season of SXS racing in Alma also ended up being the last. So Chris and I, along with many of our friends we made there were stuck wanting more. I felt like racing was safer than trail riding especially when you consider: one way traffic, the required safety equipment, and the lack of alcohol so we started hosting racing events of our own. Our first an so far most popular event were the Tip Up Town USA SXS Ice Races. We knew in our hearts that this was the next step for I’d Brap That. We had proven to ourselves and our fans, that we had what it took to plan and host our own SXS racing series.
It took a little while but even with a few tail kicks and nose dives along the way, we have finally hit our goal. We are proud to announce that in 2022 we will be hosting the I’d Brap That Racing Drivers Points Series.
We have partnered up with Maximum Michigan Madness, Michigan Mud Jam, MPA Motorsports & Offroad, Throttle Out Motorsports and others to bring you a series with a full range of SXS racing so you can test your driving skills & try a variety of different racing styles.
For more information https://idbrapthat.com/points-series. We are super pumped to see what this year has to offer and cannot wait to see our friends and fans at and look forward to meeting new people. For a stranger is nothing more than a friend we have not met yet. See you at the track or in the trails!!!!!