Top fuel driver talks motorsports at Indiana State

March 11 2008

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Top Fuel Driver Antron Brown readily admits that he’s living a dream -- one that came with a few lessons in adversity.

Brown, a former ARMY Pro Stock Motorcycle racer in the NHRA, finished second in the championship points in 2001 and 2006. He has now turned his sights to Top Fuel in 2008, driving the Matco Tools dragster.

The racing bug bit Brown while he tagged along with his father and uncle, who were both drag racers.

“I really wanted to race back then, but all I got to do was polish the rims and the car,” he said, adding he’d still be doing that today since his dad and uncle are still racing.

That experience paved the way for his own career in motorsports.

Brown started out in motorcross and in 1997 joined Troy Vincent’s PSM team. He raced Pro Stock for 10 years before making the transition into drag racing.

A 16-time NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle (PSM) winner with 12 career poles, Brown was named to drive the Matco Tools dragster last fall. Brown earned his crossover Top Fuel license in January and paced the field at the season-opening Winternationals to claim his 12th career No. 1 qualifying award. Driving for David Powers Motorsports, he currently ranks sixth in the Top Fuel standings.

The 32-year-old native of Chesterfield, N.J., feels very fortunate to be in motorsports.

“A lot of people want these jobs, but the jobs are few and far between,” he said. “What separates you from everyone else is your determination.”

Brown, who lives in Pittsboro, was so determined to race that he gave up a full college scholarship to pursue his dream.

“My mom wasn’t happy,” he recalled.

A career in racing has had its challenges.

When Brown was 21, Vincent decided he wanted out of racing, leaving Brown without a ride and sponsorship.

He did what he needed to do to keep racing.

“I went out and got a couple of sponsors and went to the bank and took out a million dollar loan,” Brown recalled. “I lived out of an RV.”

Times got tougher after Sept. 11, 2001, when sponsorship money became hard to come by.

“I had to dig deep and I found two private investors in order to keep racing,” he said.

At that time, Brown’s family members told him to quit.

“I could’ve given up a long time ago. But I didn’t. I stuck it out and eventually secured a full sponsorship from the U.S. Army,” he said.

After making the jump to Top Fuel and experiencing success, Brown is enjoying the fruits of his labor.

“I’m living my dream,” he said, smiling. “I love what I do.”

A hands-on driver, Brown can be found hanging around the shop during the week and learning more about his car. He is also does a fair amount of work in the areas of sponsorship, public relations and media.

“I love talking and meeting new people,” he added.

While Brown is living a dream, he remembers to give back and mentor others interested in the sport. In addition to speaking to students, he’s helping his 10-year-old nephew on the junior drag racing scene.

Brown spoke to students at Indiana State recently, providing students with valuable insights and inspiration. His advice to those interested in motorsports is simple. It boils down to work ethic, determination and who you surround yourself with.

“He gave us the real view of drag racing. He has the heart of a true racer, its not about the money - it’s about the race. Brown's description of racing makes Indiana State’s motorsports minor that much more valuable, now I can't wait to get into the industry,” said Arlo Daunhauer, a sophomore marketing major from Huntingburg and president of Team Sycamore Racing.

For the sponsorship coordinator of Indiana State’s Team Sycamore Racing, Brown’s interactions with his sponsors was of special interest.

“The most interesting part of his presentation was when he discussed his interactions with sponsorships and their workings. He really brought to light the levels of creativity, passion and motivation that is necessary to initiate, sustain, and grow sponsorship relations in the drag racing world,” said Justin Stacks, a senior recreation and sport management major from Poland, Ind.

Brown’s visit was sponsored by Team Sycamore Racing, a student organization established in January 2007 to give students the ultimate hands-on experience. Students affiliated with the team will soon operate, manage and drive the Team Sycamore Racing dragster at area dragstrips as an official NHRA team.

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Contact: Randy Peters, College of Technology Motorsports Coordinator, rpeters@indstate.edu

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Top Fuel Driver Antron Brown readily admits that he's living a dream -- one that came with a few lessons in adversity.

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