Story By: ALLISON MCCORMICK / AB MOTORSPORTS – CHANDLER, AZ – It was just over two years ago when three-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown announced the formation of AB Motorsports with the goal of one day fielding his own Top Fuel operation in the NHRA’s Camping World Series.
While the timeline was fluid, Brown was targeting the start of the 2021 NHRA season for AB Motorsports to make its on-track debut, allowing him all of 2020 to get everything in order as he transitioned from ‘hired driver’ to owner-driver. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the disruptions that went along with it threw a major wrench in Brown’s plans, delaying his team launch by a year.
Now, with the 2022 NHRA pre-season test session set to kick off today at the PRO Nitro Spring Training event in Chandler, Ariz., Brown is experiencing a ‘pinch me’ moment as he gets to enjoy the culmination of years of hard work, and will see his dreams become a reality when he takes the AB Motorsports Matco Tools/Toyota Top Fuel dragster on its inaugural ride.
“It feels very surreal to actually be in this spot,” said Brown, who will celebrate his ‘silver’ 25th NHRA season in 2022. “This has been a long time coming, not just for me, but for my entire team and all of our wonderful sponsors who have joined us on this new adventure. All of the members of this operation have a vested stake in it, and we’re all doing this together. It feels so good to open a new chapter, and have a fresh start here in 2022.”
The upcoming NHRA season is set to feature a slew of new team owners, including Brown’s former Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps, and motorsports legend Tony Stewart. Brown has long been considered a trailblazer in the industry and is proud to have led by example as others opted to follow suit into NHRA team ownership territory.
“It’s great that so many have the ambition to strive to better themselves and create new opportunities for themselves and their families,” said the 68-time national event winner. “To see all of these new teams joining the fray in ’22 with TSR (Tony Stewart Racing), and Ron (Capps), and a few others like Josh Hart going full-time racing, it’s definitely the new norm in NHRA. The sport is cultivating the next crop of owners, and that’s important in order to continue to grow the sport and keep it progressing forward to new levels. It’s a vision I’ve had for a long time, and the more people to take the leap with me, we can lean on each other and help each other to grow.”
While Brown may have had more time to assemble his operation than his fellow newly-minted NHRA team owners, he still felt the grind of needing to quickly pull everything together in order to be ready for the 2022 season. With those tasks now behind him, he’s able to focus his energy on being competitive on the race track, and positioning himself as a bonafide title contender in 2022.
“First and foremost, we needed to get to testing,” joked Brown when asked about his short-and-long-term goals. “And we did that. The trucks made it to Phoenix on Tuesday, the guys unloaded, and we’re ready to make some runs today. And then, we want to qualify well at Pomona and take it one round at a time. I have a lot of confidence in our team with (crew chiefs) Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, and (car chief) Brad Mason to lead us and compete for a championship the first year out. Long term, the goal is for AB Motorsports to be a multi-car organization, and to help and support other teams to achieve their goals. If we all grow, the sport grows together.
“We have to work hard and put the hours in. We have to keep learning. We made some great strides at the end of 2021 and we need to stay up on all of the new technologies and parts and pieces available to help us win. We want to be at the forefront of that and we’ll have to do that to stay very competitive with the great competition we’ll see in the nitro ranks this season.”
The AB Motorsports team will test for three days at the PRO Nitro Spring Training event, Feb. 10 -12 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park before heading west to Pomona, Calif. for the season-opening NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 18 – 20.