Former bike ace Brown ready to tackle Top Fuel
Plenty of drivers have skipped around the four professional classes in the NHRA, but Antron Brown is really stepping outside the typical pattern. A consistent winner in Pro Stock Motorcycle, he's switching from two wheels to four with a leap to Top Fuel, writes Bill Stephens.
Updated: January 3, 2008, 4:57 PM ETBy Bill Stephens | ESPN.com
Drag racing has a long tradition of drivers hopscotching from one category to another. Some of the most notable are Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, who became as feared a competitor in Funny Car as he was in Top Fuel.
NHRAAntron Brown is leaving Pro Stock Motorcycle racing behind him.
In fact, Prudhomme switched twice, moving from Top Fuel to Funny Car -- he won four consecutive Funny Car championships between 1975-78 -- and finishing out his driving career back in Top Fuel. Kenny Bernstein flip-flopped three times from Top Fuel to Funny Car, back to Top Fuel, and then last year back to Funny Car. He will be handing the driving duties for his Monster Energy Dodge over to Tommy Johnson Jr. -- another driver who has done the Top Fuel-Funny Car switcheroo. But Pro Stock Motorcycle to Top Fuel?Thanks to Antron Brown, that wild career change suddenly doesn't seem so unlikely anymore. In 2008, Brown will be leaping the abyss from the world of two-wheeled, six-second, 190 mph motorcycles to the deep end of the drag-racing pool driving four-wheeled, four-second, 330 mph dragsters.Brown's 10-year body of work on a bike was exceptional. Although he was unable to piece together a championship campaign, the 31-year-old racer won a total of 16 NHRA POWERade national events and earned a reputation for consistency on the track and fan-friendliness away from it. The cousin-in-law of three-time POWERade champion Angelle Sampey, Brown made the announcement in November that he had signed on to drive a second Top Fuel dragster for the David Powers Motorsports team alongside "Hot Rod" Fuller in 2008."I'm so excited about this opportunity," Brown said. "I'm practically speechless and to be racing alongside someone like Hot Rod will be the icing on the cake. To have the support of David and people like Matco Tools, not to mention having a crew chief like Lee Beard is something that any racer would be excited about."Brown has already begun his NHRA Top Fuel licensing procedure and has shown that he possesses the skills to successfully make the switch from bike to dragster. But just like anyone who straps into the cockpit of the quickest accelerating race machines in existence for the first time, his maiden voyage in a T/F car was, to say the least, eye opening.
The sensation is almost impossible to describe. The car felt like it was shifting into warp drive after about 100 feet. Just awesome.
-- Antron Brown
Even "The Snake" would be impressed.Bill Stephens covers NHRA for ESPN.com