BROWN IS RACING FOR THE PURE LOVE OF IT by Jeremy Troiano
ASA Is Full Of Them, But Brown Typifies Heart-Driven Racer
Imagine a hobby that literally drives you broke, keeps you away from your wife and two children for months and months at a time and makes you rely on the generosity of people that you barely know. Now imagine trying to make that hobby into your living! Could you do it? For most people, that is just too much to bear.
But when the love for the sport of auto racing is in someone's blood, they will go to all lengths just to succeed. That is a special thing about auto racing. The stories of drivers, crew chiefs, owners and crew members who have given up so many things in their lives just to make it to the upper echelons of motorsports are numerous, but every one of them is nonetheless amazing.
But rare is it that you meet someone who is so satisfied with all they have given up, yet it tears at their heart everyday, just to make it to a level of racing equal to that of the American Speed Association.
emotional Brown, choking back tears before the ASA event at Lanier. "Since I was three years old this is all I ever wanted to do with my life. My dad raced and he quit so he could provide for our family... and he was good. I don't want to do that because I know it affected him. I want to succeed. I don't know who for, him or me or my family."
But, like numerous competitors, Brown doesn't have the funds it takes to run a top-five car week after week in the ASA Series. But he does have the will, the determination and the racing talent to do it. And that doesn't stop him from going out week after week and hoping that one day his racing dream will succeed at the ASA level.
"Inner-motivation and the will to succeed drive me each week. I know what it is like to have to look up to people. I have always had to look up to people. I have never failed at anything and I am not going to fail at ASA. But it is very humbling to have to come to the racetrack and not be able to race. You know that if you come to the racetrack and tear up your car, you might not be able to come back and it is always playing in the back of your mind. You are always thinking 'what do I have to do to survive, yet finish as far forward as I can.'
"You won't get noticed running in the back, so this year we have made an extra effort at it."
And to think that Brown is giving more of himself in 2003 after all he has had to give up in the past just shows the remarkable determination of this former Legends and Late Model champion.
"I literally went broke last year trying to do this," added Brown, choking up while telling his story. "And nobody notices that. Most people think 'there's a guy who has a bucket load of money that is just coming out here to do this because he has the money. That is not the case at all. We do it because we love it.
"Every one of my guys pays their way to the racetrack each weekend. I pay for their pit passes and I pay for their place to stay. They do this with me because they love it. They appreciate what I'm able to do. You don't know how that makes a guy feel.
"A lot of people don't realize everything I have in racing I have bought and done myself with little monetary support. I have a four-year degree and worked for four or five years and then just walked away from it all because I wanted to be behind the wheel of a racecar. I didn't want an office job. I have sacrificed four years of college to do something that people only dream about."
Brown has also had to give up a lot of family time as well. That is hard with two children and a loving wife that support Brown's racing, but never see father and husband.
"My wife told me 'if you're going to race, race it. If you are not, park it. We can't afford it if you are just riding around.' I understand that she has her own goals and aspirations. She wants to own her own home. We are both almost 40 and don't own a home because that doesn't fit our lifestyle. She used to go with me all the time until we had our son. Now she stays home with him.
Everyone making their way up the auto racing ladder has met some of the most dedicated people that help them out, but when you rely on those people you meet to help you get to and from the track week after week, it leaves a human being a little more humbled.
"I have people at home that support what we do. They saw what I gave up. Now they are giving themselves to let us keep doing this. We meet some awesome people that way. Some of the best people in this sport are the people with little money. That is something these guys with money have forgotten and just don't get to see anymore. The people that help us every week, the little amount they can do, help us because they enjoy it.
"One guy, who owns the machine shop in Illinois, has followed me for years. He has always seen me race and run good. He has always said 'if you had money, you could do big things.' Just this week, he bought me a T-101 (transmission) which I have been after for three years. I just couldn't come up with the money for a used one. He sent me a check and said 'if it will make you faster, I'll make sure you get it.'
Like many ASA cars, Ed Brown's #60 has blank fenders and little sponsorship.
"And you meet those same kinds of people all over the country, people that just follow Winston Cup and they know they can be a part of what we got because I am just a regular Joe. It makes me feel appreciated just because they want to be a part of what we are doing.
"One family in Iowa put me up in their house for three months out of pocket. They paid for their way to the race track, paid my food bill while I was there and helped me do the maintenance on the car. At least one member of the family came with me to most of the Midwest races because they just loved it. They knew they couldn't sacrifice doing it on their own, but they would sacrifice doing it for me, and they didn't know me from Adam. I guess the impression they got about me and the people on the team let them think that here was a guy they wanted to help.
"There is a group of guys in Charlotte that help me out every year. They have kept me up at their shop, when I am in the area, since 1997. They put me up in their house every year. They own their own business in their shop and end up paying their guys to help me work on the race car.
"A lot of people don't realize everything I have in racing I have bought and done myself..."
Such is the case for late-30-something Florida native Ed Brown, a man who will often sleep in his truck on any given weekend instead of a hotel room just to have enough money to buy more tires or more fuel. On the surface, Brown appears to be a typical happy family man, with a loving wife, 16-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son.
But deep down, Brown is a typical racer. He loves to race and it rules his life. And it has taken its toll on his life. But from talking to him, you would never know that he wasn't one of the most successful racers on the ASA Series. Not a guy who relies on the pure generosity of distant friends and complete strangers just to survive in a sport where money rules!
"It makes you think and lets you know what people think about you and what you're doing and what you are trying to do," said a very
"My children love it, but I can't afford to bring them to the track every week. My son is so intense about it. He is so intense around the shop. He enjoys it, even though he doesn't see dad a lot. He knows what I do. I hope that one day I can provide him with the chance to go and do it too, like my parents have done for me.
"It is worth it in the end I would say, even as hard as it is on my family financially. When I am out here, I can't work a regular job. This year I am trying to. I am working at Auto Zone as a manager. They are giving me that opportunity because they love racing. They enjoy me and my work ethic."
"You get a lot in return for what you give. A lot of times I can't give. I give what I have and in return they see that."
And the work and accomplishments pay off when someone like ASA veteran Gary St. Amant approaches Ed to show his appreciation for what he is doing.
Brown does a lot of the work on his car by himself, even during the races.
But despite his trials and tribulations, Brown will not give it up. He says the people that he meets week after week drive him.
"People have always surprised me. I have met very few people in racing I can't get along with. Most people I have met in racing get along with me because they know the position I am in because they have been there too. They have been there before they got their break.
"If I would ever get that chance, look out. I don't need a big hauler. I just need something that will get my two cars to the track. I don't need big fancy hotels. My guys can stay at the Motel 6. They don't care. They want to be at the racetrack. I have assured them that if I make it, then they will make it. If I fail, then they got a good ride and had some fun at the racetrack. If I benefit, they will all benefit. I am not a ball hog when it comes to money. Although they think I ammy guys will throw a penny on the ground just to watch me pick it up and keep it."
Ed Brown (#60) loses a position to Gary St. Amant (#7) at Lanier Speedway.
"When we run well, St. Amant will come to me and say 'Ed, when you first came to this series, I had question marks on whether you belonged here. I want you to take that with the utmost positive sense, in that you now have impressed me. You are doing really well. Keep up the good work.'
"Then I go and look and see that I am ahead of Gary in the points, in money won and other categories. I saw that today in the paper and thought there is no way. That must be a misprint. When you can go and do that and be as low dollar as we are, that is a sense of accomplishment. That is what we set out to do, accomplish something."