Route 66 Raceway Champion wins historic NHRA Championship!


Brown becomes the first African-American driver to win a major American motorsports championship 

Joliet, Ill. – Nov. 12, 2012 – On Sunday at Pomona, Antron Brown became the first African-American driver to win a major motorsports championship by defeating teammate and Illinois native, Tony Schumacher, in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel category.

Antron Brown

Brown, who won the 2012 O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals event at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, formerly raced Pro Stock Motorcycles before making the transition to Top Fuel.

“My biggest dream was always to race a Top Fuel or Funny Car, but I always thought it was way out of reach because we didn’t come from money,” Brown said last week in an interview with The Associated Press. “And I began to ask myself, ‘Why am I settling?’ Then when I got the partnership with the U.S. Army, it taught me how to use my tools. I began to use my personality, my drive, my approach to people — how I never take failure. And that’s exactly what I did, and I got myself into a fuel car,” he said.

Five short years later, Brown is at the head of the class and one of the most recognizable drivers competing on the NHRA circuit.

“I feel so blessed to be in this moment right now and this is a big huge moment,” Brown said. “I am just glad we could bring it home for Don Schumacher Racing. To win the world championship the way the competition has been this year in Top Fuel and to run and compete how we’ve been doing all season long is just phenomenal. We all switched the lead back and forth a bunch of times. Is this really happening?”

Brown carried a 67 point lead over Schumacher heading into Sunday, but lost in the opening round of eliminations after suffering an engine failure. Brown sustained minor burns on his hands following the incident and was subsequently forced to watch as Schumacher advanced to the final against Brandon Bernstein. A Schumacher win would have catapulted him over Brown for the championship, but Bernstein won by 0.008 seconds giving Brown the Top Fuel crown.

Brown’s championship is the latest chapter in a groundbreaking year for the sport and Route 66 Raceway, which played host to Erica Enders breakthrough performance as the first female to win an NHRA Pro Stock race this past July.

Route 66 Raceway will once again host the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in 2013, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, June 27-30. Tickets to the four-day race weekend at Route 66 Raceway will go on-sale Friday, February 15, 2013 and can be purchased online at or by calling a ticket representative toll-free at 1-888-629-RACE (7223).

To receive notification when tickets go on-sale, please click here to be contacted by a Route 66 Raceway representative.

The 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule of events at Route 66 Raceway is as follows:

Date                             Event                                      

June 27- June 30           O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals    

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