1976 was the year. It was the start of the Bracketeer Nationals, as it was originally coined. Firebird was the first track in the west to offer a big money bracket race, only one year after Ron Leek staged the inaugural U.S. Bracket Nationals in Byron, Illinois in 1975. Three different classes were contested in that first year. When rain hit hard late Sunday afternoon just prior to the final round of all three classes, two of the titles were decided by a coin flip for the win and plaque (and money split), and one of the races was carried over to a Monday (Memorial Day) finish. Both Harley Noe (defeated Dale Harsin on Monday) in Bracketeer and Ken Heard (over Peter Berkuta by coin flip) in Mint...aka Pro were awarded titles in 1976. In addition, the Street title was presented to Laura Hughes (pictured above center-left) following the flip of a coin, as both Ellanor New (left) and husband Bill toast the finalists with champagne in front of the Firebird tower nearly thirty years ago. Photo by the late Sam Callaway