At some point in the mid-to-late 1980s, Tom Busch put his oldest son, Kurt, in a three-horsepower go-kart.
Kurt's feet couldn't reach the pedals, so Tom would stand on the back axle and run the carburetor with his hand while dragging his feet to slow the kart down when needed. Tom's youngest son, a toddler named Kyle, would sit on Kurt's lap with the steering column between his legs.
Together, the brothers raced. Now, a quarter-century later, they'll team up once again – this time at Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Kyle Busch announced Thursday he's hired Kurt to co-drive the new No. 54 Monster Energy car in the Nationwide Series, meaning there will be a Busch brother in every Nationwide race this season. Kyle will drive 13 or 14 races and Kurt will be in the car for other 19 or 20, with the Nationwide Series owner's championship as the goal.
"It should just say 'Busch Brothers' on the roof of the car," Kurt said. "This gives us a chance to buddy up on something that's more than just driving."
The pairing once seemed unlikely for the brothers, who feuded after a crash in the 2007 NASCAR All-Star Race and grew distant as Kyle sought to develop his own identity in racing.
"I was always known as Kurt's younger brother," Kyle said. "Since I've developed (an identity) and been able to branch (out with) my own brand, it makes sense to become brothers again."
Said Kurt: "You didn't see us buddied up, like maybe the Waltrips were over the years. We're always just out there racing so hard, it was hard just to really spend time together at the track. We did it behind the scenes, we just didn't do it in front of the cameras."
But both racing and life have a funny way of working things out at times. Kurt was obviously available after his departure from Penske Racing in December, and Kyle was trying to finalize his Nationwide plans for 2012 at Kyle Busch Motorsports.
The late off-road racer Rick Huseman helped Busch get in touch with the Monster Energy representatives, as Busch looked for options to fund his team. NOS Energy Drink, a Busch sponsor for the last few seasons, was scaling back its NASCAR commitment and Busch needed more money.
Monster was interested, but the program took months to figure out. Among the challenges: With Busch intending to scale back his Nationwide racing and focus more on Sprint Cup, who would share the No. 54 car?
Former Monster Energy-backed racer Ricky Carmichael was one of approximately eight drivers who were considered at one time or another when trying to put the program together, but Busch ultimately settled on his brother – with the encouragement from Monster. It's unclear if Carmichael will race in 2012.
"Essentially, what they said was, 'We love your attitude, we love the way you guys can be a fit for the Monster brand,'" Kyle said. "(They said) 'You're edgy, you're aggressive, you're out there (with) no fear to put everybody behind you and win the race.'"
Kurt pointed to the Monster logo, the familiar green 'M' that appears to have been clawed by an animal.
"We're always out there going for that trophy, and sometimes we let that rough edge drag," he said. "It's just like that 'M.' It's got the jagged edge on it. That's us."
Kyle said he will not race in the Camping World Truck Series this season at the request of Joe Gibbs Racing. But JGR said it was OK for the 26-year-old to still drive Nationwide races in 2012.
If he couldn't run for the championship, though, Busch said it "doesn't make sense" to do a full season. Therefore, it was easier for him to scale back his Nationwide schedule and offer his brother the bulk of the season.
"I probably wouldn't have gotten Kurt if I only offered him 10 (races)," Kyle said. "He probably would have said, 'That's not worth my time.' I gave him something worthwhile."
Kurt will also race the Nationwide Series restrictor-plate events for Phoenix Racing – his Sprint Cup Series team – but said he'll push Kyle to the win if needed.
The elder Busch can drive both a Chevrolet and a Toyota, he said, as long as he's respectful toward any information that may be sensitive to the manufacturers.
So if Kurt is running almost the full Nationwide Series schedule, why not just go for the second-tier series championship instead of collecting points in the Sprint Cup Series?
"I don't want to take away any attention that a guy like Austin Dillon might receive from this year, running for the points title," he said. "Or Danica. It's for those guys coming up; it's not for the Cup guys."
Even if the Busch Brothers aren't running for the drivers' championship, their quest for the Nationwide owner's title will undoubtedly be interesting, must-see TV. NASCAR's two most controversial drivers will be on the same team with the same goal.
Well, except for that whole sibling rivalry thing.
"We can say there are 33 races," Kurt said with a grin, "and we'll see who the best Busch brother is gonna be as far as who gets to Victory Lane more."