Perseverance and resilience best describe the 2013 season after Antron Brown and his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster team won the previous year’s NHRA world championship.
Though the team led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald did not repeat as champions in 2013, the team rallied from a major crash at the season-opener to win two of the first seven NHRA Mello Yello events and two of the last four to finished the season ranked second.
Antron Brown dreamed of driving one of the world’s most iconic racecars, but never truly believed that one day he would let along with a world championship.
His vibrant personality, perseverance, intelligence, athleticism and deeply held religious
convictions helped plot the course getting a job driving in NHRA drag racing’s ultimate category of Top Fuel 2008. And just four years later, the New Jersey native was crowned the 2012 NHRA Top Fuel Dragster world champion along with his Matco Tools teammates at Don Schumacher Racing.
Achieving that championship milestone enabled Antron to become the first African-American to win a major U.S. auto racing season championship. That accomplishment coupled with his commitment to helping young Americans earned him two prestigious honors in 2013.
In January, he was selected to NBC’s 2013 edition of “The Grio’s 100” list that features African-American industry, sports and community leaders and was featured on a segment of NBC’s Today show to help celebrate Black History Month. Eight months later, he was at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City along with Terry Bradshaw, James Worthy, Dave Winfield, Nick Faldo, Shawn Johnson and other renowned athletes at the 28th annual Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis.
“I never sat back and thought about it, but if I can be an inspiration for kids out there – not just African-Americans, just Americans period – and give them somebody they can look up to that’s positive who actually never settled in life for things that people told them they may not ever achieve then it makes this accomplishment even more special.
Even some of my own family members told me that I could never be a professional racer. I even doubted myself that I would someday be a Top Fuel or Funny Car racer, because it just seemed to be so far out of reach.”
Antron lives in Pittsboro, Ind., with his wife, Billie Jo, and their three children. He is active in various community activities including church, NHRA Jr. Drag Racing, Boy Scouts and other youth-related programs.
More impressive than Antron’s first world championship and 41 NHRA event titles are commitments to God, family and helping to motivate high school and college students through about 30 speaking engagements around the country for sponsors Matco Tools and the U.S. Army.