Antron Brown: Buckle in my loves, it's GO time.
I believe in magic. My eyes are wide open watching out for it. Sometimes I find it by accident, and often times it finds me. Such was the case when I was invited to the races. The drag races, with funny cars and nitro power… These are not words I’m familiar with—what do I wear? I think something with patches? Do I high five someone that is a 3x champion? I’m more of a hugger though… hmmm…luckily for me, Mr. Antron Brown spoke my language. He didn’t flinch at all when I asked him what his spirit animal was. (Yes!!!!) He hugged too! (Um, I’ll take 10 more thank you!) And, he also believes in magic!!! This man is not only a 3x world champion, but he is also entirely charming, down to earth, and one of the most delightful people I have ever met. I believe in my tribe— I believe in the magic of connecting with others. Now I have proof. Two people—two different worlds, two different industries, two different cultures, but we were like two peas in a pod (err.. more like super fancy trailer), and its wasn’t just that we both wear all black when its go time. It went deeper than that. He is surrounded and filled with light. So much so that he races at the speed of light. I think this is his secret—not that he mentioned that…aren’t the trophies proof enough? I am still glowing from my interview. My ears are still ringing from the excitement—Oh, and the track with the fast cars was pretty rad too.
Who is Antron Brown?
A few warm-up facts about Mr. Antron:1.1st African-American Top Fuel drag racing champion
2. Started racing motorcycles first (having first operated a motorcycle at age 4)
3. Was a star on the racetrack before becoming a star on the drag race track
4. Was invited to compete in the U.S. Olympic trials in the 100-meter dash in 1998
5. His hometown in New Jersey named a street after him: Antron Brown Way
6. This year's co-host of Top Gear America on BBC America
AS: What an interesting name...
AB: A nickname—a different name, it’s one of those names I got from my mom and my dad. My uncle— for some reason he wanted me to be different— he added an “R” to my name and ever since then my friends called me “transformer.”
AS: I feel like that is a perfect name though, because you drive a car that’s kind of like a transformer.
(What a civilian I am…I’m realizing that maybe I shouldn’t reference my kid’s toys anymore.)
AB: We’re in the “Fast” game out here. This is about being fast and quick, and you have to be versatile. You have to be able to adapt to so many different situations. And that’s why always I fell in love with what I do. What I do is of course NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing, which is the fastest and quickest motor sport on the planet. (I’m sorry, I have to share with everyone that at this point, I’m kind of starting to have a hard time paying attention – firstly because Mr. Antron is so entirely adorably down-to-earth and handsome…I’m also really jealous of the fact that his business is the “fast game” business…I wonder if they have an internship program…or need pillows in the car? I want to be part of this “fast” game too.)
He let me put on the helmet!!!!!! I really wanted to sit in the car– next time!
AS: So when you were a little boy what did you want to be when you grew up?
AB: Well, when I was a little boy the funniest part was that I dreamed and aspired to be what it is I’m doing right now. It was a huge dream of mine.
AS: And how did you make that dream come true? Because that’s a very unusual thing to do, is to have a dream as a child then walk those steps and be able to speak about it now.
AB: Well the craziest part for me is that my uncle and dad, you know, they both were in the military, and then my grandpa, we had our own business—a septic tank business and we did some excavating work also. And the craziest part about that was, was that my grandpa got my dad and uncle into racing—drag racing. They called it “street racing” when they were young. He said: “Boys, I’m not going to come pick you off the street, wrapped around telephone poles— we’re going to do it the right way.” And my dad and uncle, they were drag racing before I was born but not at this level. Sportsman level. You know, you work hard Monday to Friday. You go to your local race track. You go have fun with your friends and your peers that you race with, you know what I mean? And I grew up around that. And then we have a big event like here today, and with these national events, you know I was 10 years old, my dad, you know, I understood what was going on by the time I was 10, like I used to watch all the time and then go to his races. By 10 he took me to my very first race— like THIS. Big national event. I got to walk up and see all the stars I saw on TV: Shirley Muldowney, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Dave Schultz, Terry Vance— people of that nature. And I was like: Wow! That’s who I see on TV, hey, that’s Kenny Bernstein—that’s the “King of Speed!” And when I was able to see all these people, the coolest part about the sport is every ticket’s a pit pass. There’s no special pass to walk through the pits—it’s all access. (That means, anyone can be in the pits; it’s completely open, accessible to everyone regardless of ticket— how awesome is that?)
I am waiting for my interview… kind of nervous…do they really roll with 5 of these or more for the races?? Wow – how fabulous is that?!
AS: For everyone?
AB: For everyone. And right there…that’s what I think really started me to really dream and think about, maybe I could be there one day.
AS: Can I interrupt you for a moment? If there was a kid out there that was finding their way on their journey, because this is about inspiration and letting people dream and chase their dreams, if you were talking to a young person what would be 3 points of advice you would give them so they have some of the ferocity you have— although you’re such a gentle person— give them 3 things for chasing their dreams, for staying on their journey and not giving up.
AB: Well, 3 things. For one: one thing you talked about is ferocity—well, you can’t be shy, you cannot be timid. You have to go after it. I always tell people, you got to be brave— courageous, ‘cause you’re going to do something that you’ve never done before. Two: you have to have integrity. That means doing the right thing when no one’s watching. Because when you think somebody’s not watching—they ARE watching. Third and foremost: you know how everybody always tells you: “do hard work?” Well, hard work is not a thing you have to tell someone to do. That’s a must in everything you do. It’s not something you go, oh work hard. Well, everybody works hard—
AS: It’s that extra magic you have to bring to the table.
AB: That extra magic you got to bring to the table that I always tell them, you cannot be afraid to fail. When you trip and stumble you got to get back up and go forward. AS: How many times have you fallen?
Quick picks of what’s around in the pit— nothing staged—the prayer is in the car with Mr. Antron.
AB: Oh! Numerous times. I mean, I can’t even explain how I got to where I’m at today, and all the doors that I went to and knocked on that were closed.
AS: Who has put this spirit in you the most? Who has inspired you to be the man that you are right now, the person that is able to have learned with all this wisdom? Who helped you?
AB: I was very fortunate. The cool thing is my mentor, who was a God-fearing man also, was Troy Vincent. He’s a pro-ball, football player. He was my first team owner when I was raced motorcycles— I started racing motorcycles first. And now he’s vice president of the whole NFL with Roger Goodell. He was a ball player, defensive back and then he took it outside the lines, where he was using his mind and always carried himself in a professional manner, and he always told me—“Hey Antron”—and it’s what I always tell the young people today—“don’t try to imitate somebody, don’t try to be somebody. Be the best version of yourself.” And that’s the crucial element in life. So many people try to do something or be somebody they’re not, or they try to do something that’s different and they’re not being themselves. They’ve being this fictional character and that’s not them. And what I always tell them is they have to be them but at the best level. Let people know. And that’s the beauty of this world, is being who you are.
AS: You have to still be you regardless of what you’re chasing after and regardless of the noise that’s happening around you.
AB: And that’s what separates you from everybody else.
AS: That’s so beautiful.
AB: You get what I mean?
AS: I completely get what you mean, because I celebrate that every day. I try to connect with people who help me to share that. I have another question, which I ask everybody and it’s a little bit silly. What’s your spirit animal, Mr. Brown?
AB: My spirit animal? Good Lord!
AS: I got a “good Lord,” guys! Did you hear that?
AB: I guess I’ve never thought of an animal—
AS: No one’s ever asked you that before?
AB:—that describes me… I guess… it’s hilarious but, they’re vicious animals, but yet they’re kind and gentle animals—hyenas.
AS: They’re scrappy, they get what they want.
AB: Exactly. And the funny part is no matter when they’re out they can get serious, when they’re ready to pounce and they’re in attack mode and they’re in competitive mode… And yet they can have a good laugh, and can relax and chill. And enjoy—enjoy all the parts of life.
AS: Perfect. Do you believe in magic?
AB: You know what? I do. Because I think that magic, and what’s so magical about it, is that unity you share with people around you. When you share that unity with people around you, when you share yourself with a group of people you can make unbelievable things happen, which is magic. And you can make the impossible a reality.
AS: You’re giving me chills, Mr. Brown! He’s giving me chills—he’s awesome. Wouldn’t you say, that magic that you just mentioned, is maybe why I’m standing here right now? Because— when did I meet you?
AB: You just met me today.
AS: And you let me into your home. You welcomed me into your trailer. And I just walked up in here because of Mr. Wallace (a mutual friend with World Bookings) and that’s unreal. We just walked right up in here…your team picked me up in a golf cart for that manner. How did that happen?
AB: When you surround yourself by the right people, the right things happen. We’re all connected in some way or form. When you gel with the right people the magic happens. This is magic right now.
AS: Yes, it is. Indeed. Bless you. I completely agree. As long as you stay on your journey and you honor those people around you with respect, that help you along with your journey, magic is possible anywhere you go.
AB: Absolutely. And they always say stay humble and true to yourself. And never take one day—another key component, is don’t take one day for granted. You gotta live in the now—
AS: I want to hug you right now, but I’m holding the phone! (which is what I record interviews with…)
[Imagine big hug here. ]
AS: One last thing, if you were able to just for the sake of compassion and a random act of kindness who would you gift? And if it’s hard to pick one, you can pick three Mr. Brown.
AB: You know what, there’s something I do each and every moment and every time I’m at the racetrack. The thing about this is, in society now— and it’s sad to see— our society is a very selfish society, it’s all about self. And for me, I was never brought up that way. And I give every day. And if everyone just gave something of their selves to share, our world wouldn’t be—our country, for one, wouldn’t be in the place that it’s in right now. I don’t have a certain person, but who I choose to give to all the time are a lot of the kids or children who don’t have opportunities. It doesn’t have to be inner city kids, ‘cause I grew up in Trenton, NJ. It could be a kid from Alabama or Georgia. I’m from NJ, I’m an east coast kid. My idea is when I get them is to enlighten them and show a kid other opportunities they’ve never seen before. I bring them to the racetrack, which is totally off their element. Because all they ever saw, they might have ever saw, is a tennis ball off of a milk crate.
AS: If I may, on your behalf, gift an organization because I like to, because of your kindness, which organization shall I gift? Is it Make a Wish Foundation? (Make a Wish organization is on all of Mr. Antron's trailers)
AB: You hit the first one, that’s why they’re here in the pit, that’s why they’re here. We do a lot of stuff with Make a Wish. And also, one thing we always give back to in Indianapolis where we live at— we do a lot of things with Riley Children’s Hospital.
AS: Would you allow me to come to the hospital and do something for them, or send gifts to that specific hospital for you?
AB: Oh, absolutely.
AS: Thank you Mr. Brown – you are a true inspiration and a beautiful spirit. I am honored to have met you. By the way, may I ask if you have an internship program? Are we still recording? xoxo
Mr. Antron was kind enough to autograph 2 caps that we would like to give to a reader. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to enter with “Mr. Antron Brown” in the subject.
Mr. Anton also graciously signed some car parts. Enter to Win by following us + commenting on our Instagram post about Mr. Antron’s interview @avivastanoffdesign.
If anyone would like to donate to the Make A Wish foundation, please do so here: a percentage of all sales on Aviva’s website through the end of the year will be donated in Mr. Antron and Aviva’s name.