El Paso, TX (KTSM) — “What are you willing to do to be successful?” was the question Antron Brown, 2012 National Hot Rod Association Top Fuel World Champion, asked Soldiers and students at Western Technical College during an inspirational speech, April 2.
Brown, an Army-sponsored drag racer, said he visits technical schools to inspire the mechanics and technicians of the future to never settle in life, and fulfill their dreams by sharing the story of how he went from being a motorcycle mechanic to driving to more than 300 mph in less than 4 seconds.
He told the students he came from an average American family. His dad retired from the military after serving 26 years in the Army and National Guard, and his mom worked for the U.S. Postal Service. His family wasn’t rich, so his success came from believing he could accomplish his childhood dream of being a top fuel driver through hard work and never accepting the word defeat.
“You only get defeated in life when you give up,” said the Chesterfield, N.J., native. “You’re going to fail in life. It’s all about what you learn from that failure to better prepare you for the next time that opportunity comes around.”
Brown said his opportunity came when he was working on a Pro Stock Motorcycle pit crew. While working with the pit crew, he learned as much as he could about racing the bike, and he saved his money to obtain a Pro Stock Motorcycle license.
One day, the racer didn’t show up to test run the bike. Brown said he was the only member in the pit crew with a license to ride the bike, so he did the test run. The team was pleased with his performance, and they continued to allow him to test the bike. A year later, he was asked to race for a Pro Stock Motorcycle team.
He told the students, “It’s crucial you prepare yourself for that opportunity, because each and every one of you will get that opportunity.”
A key takeaway from Brown’s speech was having the passion to achieve your goals, said Sgt. Richard Carreon, Fort Bliss Better Opportunities for Single Parents president, who attended the event to meet and greet students.
“You have to have a dream and the ambition to accomplish your dream,” Carreon said. “You have to put yourself in a position to accomplish your dream. Even if you don’t have the money to accomplish your dream right away, it doesn’t take much effort to read a book and learn how to do whatever it is you want to do.”
The Army has sponsored Brown’s racing career since 2002. He said one of the requirements to be sponsored by the Army is to attend four days of basic training every year to spend time with Soldiers and experience what it is like to be in the Army.
“People go to basic [training] with the mindset of I can’t do those pull-ups or that many sit-ups,” said Brown. He continued to explain how the Soldiers are mentally strengthened after weeks of training. “All of the things the Soldiers said they couldn’t do changed to I can do and I will do. This is the mindset you need to be successful.”
He pointed to the crowd and told the students, “If you don’t believe me, ask any of the Soldiers standing behind you.”
He credited his experiences with Soldiers for helping him learn to never settle in life and inspiring him to fulfill his childhood dream of being a top fuel driver. Although he never raced a drag car, his success in Pro Stock Motorcycle racing and the Army sponsorship led to him becoming a top fuel world champion.
“Your dream is out there,” Brown said. “It’s up to you to choose to do it.”