As he emerged from his mangled truck on the side of a dusty Mexican speedway, Brad DeBerti’s world went dark.
“I had no vision. Everything was black” for a few minutes, the Arroyo Grande High School graduate recalled, the result of burst blood vessels in his eyes. His other injuries ranged from a severe concussion to a couple of fractured vertebrae.
DeBerti’s father and racing coach, custom car builder Doug DeBerti, wanted to quit, but Brad DeBerti was determined to keep racing.
His quest to become a NASCAR driver — while helping his dad create one-of-a-kind cars and trucks for Arroyo Grande’s DeBerti Designs — is chronicled in a new reality show premiering Wednesday as part of the Discovery Channel’s first-ever Motor Mega Week.
“Twin Turbos” gets its title from a pair of full-throttle family nicknames.
“My dad has a lot of energy, so I’m always calling him ‘Turbo,’ ” Brad DeBerti explained. His father, in response, calls his equally amped younger son “Twin Turbo.”
Originally from Butte, Montana, Doug DeBerti has been revving up his rides since age 15. After high school, DeBerti headed to Bakersfield, where he started two companies specializing in after-market automotive accessories — California Truck Accessories and Trenz Manufacturing — that he later sold.
He launched DeBerti Designs, which builds and develops after-market parts for big-name car brands such as Chevy, Dodge and Ford, in 1997. DeBerti and his family moved to San Luis Obispo County nine years ago; he and Brad now both live in Arroyo Grande.
Doug DeBerti joked that his sons Brad and Shane have been involved in the family business since they were “knee high to a chicken.”
“We were never able to watch TV or play video games. We were always in the shop building things,” Brad DeBerti said.
While Shane DeBerti eventually became a Realtor based in Bakersfield, his younger brother found another passion: auto racing.
“My dream’s always been to race NASCAR,” explained Brad DeBerti, who graduated from Arroyo Grande High in 2013. “I wanted it so bad, and that changed everything — from my diet to my mindset.”
With his dad as his spotter and coach, DeBerti kickstarted his motorsports career in 2014 at age 20. The young racer saw his share of rookie success, winning Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series’ Pro Lite Rookie of the Year title in 2015 and the Pro Lite championship in 2016.
Then a serious crash at a Lucas Oil Off Road Racing event in Ensenada, Mexico, put the brakes on DeBerti’s racing career.
As he rocketed down the Baja International Short Course at Estero Beach, another vehicle clipped the back of his pickup truck at 70 mph — causing it to roll seven times. “I got pretty messed up,” DeBerti recalled. “That ended my championship spree right there.”
Taking a temporary break from racing, DeBerti switched gears and focused on custom car building.
His 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Pre Runner — a luxury truck designed for high-speed off-road racing — won the Young Gun Award and the Ford Motor Co. Design Award at the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, billed by the Specialty Equipment Market Association as “the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world.” DeBerti also placed in the 2016 SEMA Top 10 Battle of the Builders.
His success — paired with that of his father, who’s found his own fame in gearhead circles — caught the attention of the Discovery Channel.
Filmed primarily in 2017, “Twin Turbos” finds Brad DeBerti, now 23, getting his racing career back on track with the help of his mentor, NASCAR driver Joey Logano. “I’m pretty behind as far as seat time (goes),” DeBerti explained. “I’m trying to learn as much as I can as fast as I can.”
“His drive and passion is what has me fired up,” added Doug DeBerti. “He’s pushing so hard and it’s so exciting to see. ... As much fun as he has out there, I have twice as much fun.”
“Twin Turbos” also showcases DeBerti Designs and the local companies it works with, including Advance Adapters in Paso Robles, Cone Industries in Templeton and Synergy Manufacturing in San Luis Obispo. (Central Coast residents will recognize filming locations such as the Oceano Dunes.) Viewers can get the inside scoop on high-profile projects such as a super-charged Ford Mustang GT and a souped-up Ford F-150 Raptor truck inspired by a F-22 fighter jet.
“There’s so much going on” in “Twin Turbos,” Doug DeBerti said, from his son’s racing exploits to his company’s custom builds. “We have so much fun but work so hard.”
“Twin Turbos” premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday on the Discovery Channel. The show airs Wednesday nights through April 18.