As Antron Brown prepares to begin defense of his Top Fuel championship at this weekend's Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, he is happy that his Matco-backed Don Schumacher Racing dragster will be one of four competing on a full-time basis with the enclosed cockpit canopy developed by his DSR team as a safety measure.
"Our weeks have been full of development going forward, not just in performance but in safety," said of the coming season when he will be among four drivers utilizing the enclosed safety canopy developed by DSR and manufactured by Aerodine Composites of Indianapolis. Tony Schumacher led the way when he debuted the canopy last summer (ABOVE) and at the Winternationals will be joined by Brown, teammate Spencer Massey and John Force Racing rookie Brittany Force driving "under glass."
"The canopy on my racecar is here to stay. It's on there, locked, sealed and delivered," Brown declared. "After driving with it down the racetrack several times and looking back to what I used to race with, it's like, 'I don't want to go back there.'
"You go from a three-sixteenth-inch piece of Plexiglas between you and 330 miles an hour, now you go to a fully enclosed cockpit that's got a ballistic windshield that's bulletproof. Now we have all the new struts to brace it to make the cockpit better, where it gives you a lot more support and makes that area stronger where things can't even get to you. We're definitely happy we have that on our racecar."
Brown added that he goes into the new season in better physical shape, too.
"I've been going at it hard with my training and conditioning," said the former college sprinter. "Three days in the gym, two days playing basketball. I've been keeping up that regimen throughout the off-season so I can come back in tip-top shape. Let me tell you something, after a racing season when I haven't been in the gym regularly I can tell. It definitely took me a few weeks to get readjusted to that again."
After becoming the first African-American to win a major U.S. auto racing season championship in 2012, Brown was selected for NBC's "The Grio 100" list of leaders in the African-American community, an honor that led to a segment on the Feb. 8 edition of the NBC Today show.