September 8 — Although the annual NHRA AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park is slightly more than two weeks away, two-time Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Dragster world champion Antron Brown already is a winner in the St. Louis region.
Brown visited the St. Louis area today to help promote the September 23-25 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event at Gateway and took time to stop at the Madison Jr./Sr. High School in Madison, Illinois, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in East St. Louis, Illinois.
Antron Brown with Madison School Superintendent Dr. Warletta Brookins (left) and Eileen Waters (right). (John Bisci photo)
While at Madison High School, Brown spoke to the student assembly and presented a large quantity of school supplies donated by local SCCA racers and collected by Eileen Waters of the St. Louis Auto Racing Fan Club.
“I take great pride in speaking with, and interacting with, the students,” Brown explained. “It stresses the importance of pushing themselves to achieve greatness. What I’ve found is that today’s youth sometimes settle for a lot of things in life. Like, ‘This is good. I’m good.’ They tell themselves it’s okay to be status quo. They stay inside their shells instead of reaching their potential. I’m trying to be that little shot in the arm that says, ‘Hey, let’s take it to the next level. Let’s make this step up.’ Let’s get there and let’s think about ways how to get there. Let’s get the motivation going so they say, ‘I’m not going to settle.’
“That’s why I really enjoy talking to the youth, to help motivate them. I’m here to say, ‘Hey, I’ve done it and I’m still in that fight.’ ”
After lunch Brown visited the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in East St. Louis, Illinois, and was welcomed by the three-time Olympic gold medal winner. He spoke to young adults in the Foundation’s after-school program and offered up yet another inspirational message to the assembly.
Antron spoke to the student assembly at Madison Jr./Sr. High School. (John Bisci photo)
At the track, Brown’s stranglehold on the Top Fuel Dragster division is unprecedented: four consecutive wins from 2012-2015. It goes without saying he is the favorite to hoist high yet another Wally trophy in victory lane at Gateway on September 25.
“I hope we can keep it going,” Brown said. “The one thing about our sport is that you can be a hero one weekend and a zero the next. To come here each year and perform the way we do is phenomenal. It’s phenomenal to me to look at it and know we’ve actually done it, but I am not surprised at the way our team operates. We know this race is crucial to the championship. We push and we work really hard. The track’s been great to us. We just love being here.”
Tickets now are on sale for the NHRA AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at GMP. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event annually delivers the biggest names in professional drag racing, including four-time GMP winner Antron Brown, defending Pro Stock champion Erica Enders and 16-time Funny Car champion John Force. Qualifying will take place on Friday and Saturday with eliminations on Sunday. The St. Louis event is the second race of the 2016 Countdown to the Championship. Kids 12 and under are free.
SCHEDULE FOR THE 2016 NHRA AAA INSURANCE NATIONALS AT GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK
Thursday, September 22
6 p.m. — NHRA Fanfest and driver autograph session at Ballpark Village in St. Louis at Busch Stadium. (6-7:30 p.m.)
Friday, September 23
11 a.m. — Midway opens.
2:15 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
2:45 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
3:30 p.m. – Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying session.
4:45 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
5:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
6 p.m. – Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying.
7:30 p.m. – Track closed.
Saturday, September 24
10 a.m. — Midway opens.
1 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
1:45 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
2:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
3:45 p.m. – First round of Pro Mod eliminations.
4:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.
5 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
7:30 p.m. – Track closed.
Sunday, September 25
9 a.m. — Midway opens.
10 a.m. — Pre-race ceremonies.
11 a.m. – First round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car Eliminations.
Noon – First round of Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations.
12:20 p.m. – Second round of Pro Mod eliminations.
12:45 p.m. – Second round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
1:15 p.m. – Second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock eliminations.
1:30 p.m. — Pro Mod semi-finals.
2:15 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car semi-finals.
2:33 p.m. — Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle semi-finals.
2:40 p.m. — Pro Mod finals.
2:45 p.m. — Sportsman finals.
3:30 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock finals.
3:37 p.m. – Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster finals.
Schedule subject to change.