The man who made history in the NHRA last year by becoming the first black American to win a national championship of any kind in motorsports, is looking at creating more history: making left turns and moving over to NASCAR.
Antron Brown made headlines last season when he won the Top Fuel drag racing championship in the NHRA driving for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR). Piloting the fastest racecars in the world, Brown won a dramatic championship having to wait until the last round of the last day of the season before he could take the crown (source: Yahoo!).
A press conference was used to announce this venture and it now it appears Brown will test in the K&N East Series of NASCAR at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, driving a Rev Racing-prepared Toyota (source: ESPN). Rev Racing is run by Max Siegel who is part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program which helps develop drivers of minority or women’s background.
Brown has talked about driving stock cars in the past – he worked with former NFL’er Reggie White before he died – but nothing concrete ever came up to allow him a quality ride for testing. This isn’t the first time he’s made a big switch in racing. Brown was once an excellent Pro Stock Motorcycle rider and though he never won a championship on a bike, he was victorious 16 times, mostly with Don Schumacher Racing and perennially was a Top 10 finisher in points. Then he made an abrupt switch at DSR, turning in his bike for an earth-shattering ground-pounding Top Fueler, making heads turn with astonishment at his quick success. Now, he appears to be making another grand move.
He is most sincere about this move and stated simply and to the point,
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t serious. That’s it in a nutshell.”
Brown is a competitive person and quite the athlete. He once qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100 meter dash. Conditioning may be a concern because although a driver of a Top Fueler takes incredible G-forces from both the front and rear, it’s only for a short time. Age could be another concern considering Brown is 37, which is almost twice the age of most new drivers coming into the sport.
NASCAR currently has a couple of full-time minority drivers racing under the diversity banner, including Sprint Cup’s Aric Almirola (Cuban heritage) and Truck series’ Darrell Wallace Jr. (black American).
Antron will continue his drag racing pursuits with DSR for now but wants to move towards NASCAR. He would like to make step-by-step progress and see where it goes; Brown doesn’t want to jump too quickly and said as much at the press conference saying (video here):
“My focus right now is to go testing in Virginia on Tuesday (May 28) and go out there to the best of my ability and take it from there.”
Additional sources: NHRA, Drive for Diversity