The 46-year-old Blountville racer and his 17-year-old son will both try to qualify in the Top Dragster division for this weekend’s NHRA Fitzgerald Thunder Valley Nationals. A recent family trip to the Sunshine State just cemented their dedication to racing.
“We spent time building parts and machining transmission parts at a shop down in Florida,” said Barry Brown, who works as a medical implant salesman when he’s not racing. “We were a few minutes from the beach. The rest of the family went to the beach and Carson and I worked on race cars.”
Carson Brown, who recently finished up the school year at Sullivan Central, plans to study machining as a student at Northeast State. He’s long been a student on the track as a champion in the DER Series Junior Dragster division at Bristol. But this is a major step up for him, just his third race in the Top Dragsters with a significant speed difference from his old car.
“He’s stepped up from 80 to 180 miles per hour this year,” Barry Brown said. “We’re building a new car for him that will get him over 200.”
“The speed difference and everything, it makes it a lot different to drive,” Carson Brown said. “But the biggest thing is I love to be able to spend time with and race with my dad.”
The elder Brown started racing in 2002 after going to the track with his brother-in-law who raced. Now, the whole family is involved, with all three of the Brown children racing in an activity that keeps them together on the weekends.
A former track champion in the DER Series, Barry Brown has run all the major sanctioning bodies; NHRA, IHRA, PDRA and ADRL, which he was the Top Dragster world champion in 2013.
Carson started out at age 7 in Junior Dragsters. He has attempted to qualify in the Top Dragsters for NHRA national events at Gainesville, Fla., and Atlanta, although he didn’t make the elimination ladder in either of those.
To break through at Bristol, they tested both the father and the son’s cars last Wednesday with a major goal in mind.
“This is a special race for us, but there are going to be a lot of fast cars here at Bristol,” Barry Brown said. “We’re going to try to sneak him in the field.”
NHRA Fitzgerald Thunder Valley Nationals schedule
Friday, June 15
9 a.m. — Gates open
10 a.m. — Sportsman qualifying
2:30 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown qualifying
3:15 p.m. — Nitro Harley qualifying
3:45 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying
4:30 p.m. — Pro Stock qualifying
5 p.m. — Nitro qualifying (Funny Car/Top Fuel)
6 p.m. — Nitro Harley qualifying
6:15 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown qualifying
6:45 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying
7:30 p.m. — Pro Stock qualifying
8 p.m. — Nitro qualifying (Funny Car/Top Fuel)
(Fireworks at conclusion of qualifying)
Saturday, June 16
7:30 a.m. — Gates open
8 a.m. — Sportsman eliminations
11:30 a.m. — Factory Stock Showdown qualifying
Noon — Nitro Harley qualifying
12:15 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying
1 p.m. — Pro Stock qualifying
1:30 p.m. — Nitro qualifying (Funny Car/Top Fuel)
2:30 p.m. — Nitro Harley qualifying
2:40 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown eliminations
2:45 p.m. — Pro Mod Eliminations
3:30 p.m. — Pro Stock qualifying
4 p.m. — Nitro qualifying (Funny Car/Top Fuel)
(Fan Fest begins 30 minutes after last qualifying round)
Sunday, June 17
8:30 a.m. — Gates open
10:30 a.m. — Track walk
11 a.m. — Pre-race ceremonies
Noon — Eliminations