On Tuesday, reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown did something he avoids at all costs at the controls of his 8,000 horsepower Matco Tools dragster: he turned left. And then left again. And then left again.
As it was revealed last week, the 37-year old driver, who became the first African-American to claim a major auto racing championship in the United States last November, climbed behind the wheel of a K&N Pro Series Toyota Camry stock car campaigned by Rev Racing at the 0.416-mile Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia on Tuesday. Brown drove one of five cars that Rev Racing, owned by Max Siegel, tested at the oval short track located about two hours north of Charlotte, where Pro Series teams often test because of the track’s stature as one of the best asphalt short tracks in the country.
The left-turn outing was arranged by Toyota, one of the major associate sponsors of Brown’s Don Schumacher Racing-owned dragster. Rev Racing is involved in NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity program and fields Toyota race cars, which made this a perfect fit for Brown to try his hand at a whole different style of racing. According to OneDirt Editor John Gibson, who was on hand for the test, Brown struggled early getting comfortable with his new digs, but went back out in the afternoon session and stepped up considerably. Later in the run, Brown came off turn two on the greasy racing surface, looped the car, and tagged the wall. He was unhurt in the mishap and only did some minor cosmetic damage to the body.
Although it’s not uncommon for racers from other disciplines of racing to tackle something new on an off-weekend, this was no publicity stunt for Brown, as he’s reportedly considering a possible start at a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East developmental series race at the Motor Mile facility later this year. The Pro Series East is a regional series that competes on 1/3 to 1-mile ovals and two road courses.
Brown took on the invite to jump in a stock car following years of urging by his friends in the NASCAR world, including Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer.
Rev Racing has successfully fielded cars for up-and-coming drivers such as Darrel Wallace Jr. and Kyle Larson. According to a story published in USA Today, Rev Racing would like to see Brown trade in his nitro and parachutes for pit stops and carburetors, but the chance to test the car is only a first step for the drag racing champion in trying his hand at another form of auto racing.
This weekend, Brown will be back home in the cockpit of his Matco Tools machine, as he enters the NHRA Toyota Summernationals at Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. third in the NHRA Mello Yello standings.