BROWN WAS RIGHT AT HOME ALL WEEKEND , FROM WORKING WITH BUGINGA ’ S TEAM TO PREPARE THE PAIR OF PRO 275 ENTRIES TO INTERACTING WITH THE FANS AND SUPPORTING THE JR . DRAGSTER PROGRAM .
“ The technology and the rate of acceleration these cars have to work with , it blows my mind ,” Brown says . “ I always respect every different aspect or discipline of drag racing – always have .”
It took the quickest pass of the weekend , a 3.713 at 201.91 , to beat Birt and his 3.73 in the final round . Birt left first with an . 039 reaction time to Brown ’ s . 053 , but “ Fred ” pulled through at the eighth-mile finish line for a . 0039 margin of victory .
“ It ’ s fun when you have races like we had there in the final ,” Brown says . “ You ’ re talking about three thousandths . It could ’ ve gone either way . I looked over on the big end and I was like , ‘ We ’ re together ! Who ’ s going to get it ?’ When the light jumped up , I was like , “ Oh my God , we just won .’”
The win was a perfect way to close out a thrilling season for Brown , who won numerous races in his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster before finishing second in the world championship hunt .
“ I ’ ll tell you what , this was the biggest Christmas present I could have – a race car that runs like that ,” says Brown , who thanked Buginga , Miller , and the whole Team Buginga crew . “ All I could do was mess it up . With that being said , going into that final round , I knew I had to tune up a little bit . My lights haven ’ t been where I want them to be . I staged shallow every time and the most I could get out was like low . 050s . I looked at Jamie and I said , ‘ You better tune this
130 | Drag Illustrated | DragIllustrated . com joker up ,’ and he did . They set it up and we had enough to hold [ Birt ] off by four thou .”
In the winner ’ s circle , it was starting to set in that not only did Brown spend his weekend making his first passes in a drag radial car , but he also won . It was a full-circle moment for Brown , who ’ s watched radial racers at now-defunct tracks like Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in New Jersey and Palm Beach International Raceway over the years , but never had the opportunity to drive a door car like this .
“ I always knew they were the real deal Holyfield ,” Brown says of radial racers . “ I remember back in the day when I was young and I ’ d go to Englishtown and watch [ Tim ] Lynch drive with [ Steve ] Petty tuning on the little notch-back Mustang . That used to haul the mail . I was like , ‘ Those jokers are out of control .’ Now to finally get to do it , I ’ m like , ‘ Is this real ?’ It ’ s real . Oh yeah , it ’ s real .”
Brown isn ’ t sure what the next step is in his radial racing journey , but he did hint that this won ’ t be the last time you see Brown and Buginga pair up .
“ I tell you what , Manny hooked me like a bigmouth bass ,” Brown says . “ I don ’ t know when I ’ m coming out next , but it ain ’ t gonna be long .” DI