Somehow though team and driver found themselves and Brown was signed for the #24 car before ever even meeting the team owners.
“We got the crew together and that's who they picked,” said Lux. “We heard a lot of good things about him and he wasn't racing, so I called him up.”
A surprised Brown gladly took that call.
“I was out of everything and thanks to Mike Lux and Jerry Hicks, I'm back,” said Brown. “They wanted to give me a shot
“Mike Lux had talked to some people and they recommended me and we had talked a little bit last fall. I didn't know what we were going to do. Then he called me out of the blue and offered it to me, so that was a pretty good day.”
In years past, winning the Oxford 250 could lead to bigger and better things in racing. Ricky Craven's 1991 250 win helped lay the foundation to drive a NASCAR Winston Cup (Now Sprint Cup) car at Rockingham later in the same year for Dick Moroso. Eventually, Craven would go on to win in all three of NASCAR's “big series”. Short track racing isn't the same nearly two decades later, but a 250 victory likely helped Brown land the #24 ride.
“That had a lot to do with it obviously,” said Brown. “Had I not won that race, I probably
wouldn't be here today. Winning that race is supposed to help you and move your
career along. It is supposed to get you better opportunities and that's what it did for
me, so I couldn't be happier.”
Now, Brown is looking for win number two when the 250 rolls around on July 20th.
“ I certainly think that we can do it. It's nice to go into that race knowing that you have
a guaranteed spot [the latest non-qualified 250 winner is eligible for a provisional after
the 250's grueling heat races]. I don't have to kill myself in qualifying. There will be a
lot of cars there and getting a bad [heat race] draw won't hurt. These guys have raced
at Oxford and know the racetrack. I'm sure that we'll go and test, so I know we'll have
a good car for that race.
“We'll be able to go there and make the racecar a good racecar and not have to sweat
about racing it for 10 laps to get into the show. That gives us a huge advantage.”
Adjusting to being a hired gun is a new experience for Brown, as he's never raced for
another team in his career.
“No, not really. This is my first real deal,” said Brown. “I've always done my own stuff with my own guys and friends. These guys though are great people. They are fun to hang out with. They're here to have fun. They want to win and run good, but they come to have fun and enjoy doing what they are doing. So that makes it exciting for me and I appreciate having that opportunity.”
The Brown/#24 team, which has former driver David Bath serving as crew chief, will run around a half dozen ACT races this season. They got their start together on Memorial Day weekend at Thunder Road, where Brown won his heat race but had handling problems and dropped out of the feature event early.
“We didn't make a great showing today, but we're learning,” said Brown when he got out of his car after that race. “This is a new car and we're learning what it wants to do and what changes that it likes. It's a new car for me too, so I'm learning too. We'll chalk it up to a learning day - it is what it is.”
This Saturday thought, Brown will be back at Oxford for a 150-lap ACT event as a tune-up to next month's 250. Brown can't wait to go back this weekend….and really can't wait for the upcoming 250.
“I'm excited to go back to Oxford. We'll have a great car there and that's the race that matters to me.”
But in the off-season, Brown found his own #99 team shut down. After a season with the 250 victory and a ranking of fifth in the season's ACT Late Model standings, the rough economy took its toll on the team of family and close friends. Sadly, it looked like after one year in the sun, Brown would be watching from the sidelines once again.
Meanwhile, over in coastal Southern Maine, the #24 Mike Lux/Jerry Hicks team wasn't sure of their 2008 plans. After making a name for themselves throughout New England with drivers like Mike Rowe, Patrick Laperle, Robbie Harrison and David Bath in their cars through the years, this coming season was a question mark. Long-time pilot Rowe had put his primary focus on his PASS North ride, so that wasn't going to work.
“There were a few scheduling conflicts,” said team co-owner Mike Lux. “We're still great friends and we'll probably race together again in the future, but it wasn't going to work out for this season.”