Antron with his Grandmother Dolores Brown
The National Hot Rod Association recently made its last stop on the east coast at the Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania for the Auto Plus Nationals. New Jersey native, Antron Brown, placed second in the Top Fuel Dragster race, an uncommon feat for an African American in the world of car racing, and further cementing his place as the most successful African-American racer in motor sports history.
The win was a sweet one for Brown and his team, who were fully decked out in pink in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month and in honor of his mother-in-law, Linda Matranga, a breast cancer survivor.
The Maple Grove race was also special for Brown because his grandmother Dolores Joyce Brown was in the stands. She bought Antron his first dirt bike when he was four and has always supported him in his racing career. Speed must be in the family’s blood, because Joyce Brown also raced as a young woman.
Brown started racing Pro Stock motorcycles in 1997. While in college, he received a phone call from NFL cornerback Troy Vincent, who asked him if he could ride pro stock motorcycles, which travel at speeds of up to180 mph. In less than a year, Brown teamed up with Dave Schultz, a successful racer whose mentoring helped him become a top pro stock motorcycle rider.
In ten years, Brown scored 16 victories, and finished second in the points standings in 2001 and 2006. His stellar record paid off in 2008 when he signed a deal with David Powers Motor Sports to drive a Top Fuel Dragster, a vehicle that has 8,000 horsepower, and travels over 300 mph in less than four seconds.
Anron taking off at the starting line at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania.
Between qualifying rounds at the Maple Grove Raceway, Brown said learning to race a dragster required the same skills as racing bikes, “I did not have to learn how to race all over again,” he said. He continued, “My ten year career in PS motorcycle honed me and helped me a lot in how to handle high pressure situations, how to race and how to perform on a day to day basis, but the learning curve was now driving that 330mph rocket ship. I became a sponge through each year, learning more and more.”
Brown said that a complex combination of skill and instinct plays a role in winning races, “I am my own worst critic, and I watched, studying all of my races, then do different things to hone my skills, and get better, because this is not a deal that you can think, you have to train yourself to adapt to whatever is thrown at you, and when it happens, your body has to react, and if you think, its too late, its over and done with.”
Brown was honored earlier this year by the New Brunswick, N.J. African American Chamber of Commerce. “That was not just an award for me, but for my whole family, from my grandparents, to my kids,” Brown said.
To keep up with Antron Brown and others in drag racing, visit: www.nhra.com
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