As a high school student in New Jersey, Antron Brown was one of the fastest teenagers in the country when it came to racing in a straight line.
Brown also excelled in baseball and basketball, but he was a human rocket ship in spikes in the 100-meter dash.
He was so good that he got a college scholarship offer and was even invited to try out for the U.S. Olympic team.
But Brown turned it down. He wanted to go faster — a lot faster.
He is still one of the country’s fastest men to race in a straight line, but he now straps into a rocket ship on wheels and races three times the distance in less than a third of the time than he did in high school as a three-time Top Fuel champion.
Brown sees little difference between running the 100 dash and scorching 1,000 feet of drag strip in less than three seconds at over 320 mph.
“The athletic part is very similar,” Brown said. “Track and field is very physical and you have to be in good shape to be a sprinter. Being in really good shape physically gives you a mental focus and that gives you confidence you can win, and you can’t win without that confidence.”
Brown’s Top Fuel dragster has more horsepower than a dozen Indy cars, and launches faster than an airliner on takeoff. Yet, despite the horsepower and speed, the difference between winning and losing is often a fraction of a second at the start.
Brown’s mental focus on the green light at the drag strip is just as critical as his focus was on the starter’s pistol in high school.
“Racing Top Fuel is precise and there’s very little margin for error when you win or lose by five one-thousandths of a second,” said Brown. “One false start, and we’re done.”
Brown’s focus on the drag strip is almost hypnotic as he mentally notes every move his car makes inch by inch. His bursts down the track are like a moon shot, but…