Sport: Auto Racing
Born: March 1, 1976
Antron Brown was born March 1, 1976 in Trenton. He grew up in Chesterfield, where the family moved in the early 1980s to take over his late-grandfather’s farm. His father, Albert, ran a septic tank business. Antron helped his dad work on machinery, including trucks and bulldozers. Albert and his brother,Andre were amateur gear heads. They built cars and raced them at the Maple Grove and Atco tracks.
Antron learned his way around an engine at an early age. He was too young to drive cars, but he quenched his need for speed starting at age 4 on dirt bikes he ran around a track on the family’s 10-acre property. He began competing in Motocross at age 12 and won his first motorcycle drag race at 17 on a Suzuki GSXR 1100.
At Northern Burlington Regional High, he also dabbled in team sports, including football and basketball. He also ran track—and was one of the school’s top runners. After graduation, Antron continued to compete in sprints and the long jump for Mercer County Community College. Though he stood only 5’8”, he was viewed as having a future in international competition.
Antron was recruited by the track coach at Long Island University, but turned down a scholarship offer after Eagles star Troy Vincent invited him to join a pro stock motorcycle racing team he was forming. Vincent’s wife was a member of the Browns’ extended family.
Antron was an exceptional driver. In 10 years competing at NHRA events, he won 16 events and finished as runner-up in the standings twice, in 2001 and 2006. He became one of the most recognizable figures in his sport, not so much for the color of his skin, but for his upbeat attitude and tirelessly fan-friendly demeanor.
In 2007, Antron moved away from motorcycle racing and began competing in top-fuel drag racing. He had been recruited as a funny car by Don Schumacher Racing, a team looking for a recognizable name. It was rare for anyone—especially a motorcycle guy—to leapfrog right to the top fuel level. Nevertheless, in 2008, Antron became the first driver to win major events in both the NHRA pro stock motorcycle and top fuel dragster classes. Against all odds, he was soon competing for the top slot in the NHRA rankings—a place that no African American driver had ever occupied. Antron said he took inspiration from Shirley Muldowney, the first woman to win a top-fuel title, when Antron was a toddler.
With the support of crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald (himself a former NHRA champion), Antron captured the 2012 Top Fuel NHRA crown in the season’s final event in Pomona, California. He won six major events during the year. Antron’s home base is now Pittsboro, Indiana, where he lives with his wife and three children. His father and uncle are still racing in South Jersey.