Talking Titanium with Three-Time Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown
TMS Titanium caught with with NHRA Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown to talk racing safety, fabrication and how involved the former Pro Stock Motorcycle is in the development of parts for his race car as well as his kids’ junior dragster program.
TMS – You have been racing your whole life what attracted you to this profession?
Antron Brown – “What really attracted me to the racing was being around it all the time and really the thought of the competition. I love to compete at everything. I am a true competitor by nature. Drag racing for me was competing at the highest level. It was the most intense competition out there. It is the ultimate chess match.”
TMS – What is it like to go down a race track at almost 200 mph without a race car round you?
AB – “When I raced Pro Stock Motorcycle it was one of the most unique things I have done in my life. In my Matco Top Fuel dragster I am strapped into a land rocket. It is one thing to be strapped in going to the speeds we are going versus sitting on a motorcycle. When I look back I think I might not have been too right in the head when I was racing Pro Stock Motorcycle. When you sit on a bike you have to make yourself a part of the race vehicle. You have to be able to squeeze and hold onto that thing for your life. Riding that bike gave me the courage to step into the Top Fuel ranks.”
TMS – As a driver you know safety comes first so how involved are you in the construction or fabrication process?
AB – “I am always a part of it. That is one of the things that really interested me the most about drag racing. All the technology, the fabrication, the innovation that we put into these race vehicles is so crucial. We work as a group on this Matco dragster and Don Schumacher Racing team. We also work with TRD, Toyota Racing Development, to come up with ideas. Some of the ideas work and some don’t work but the more we put together the better the ideas become. I talk about things we did with the Pro Stock Motorcycle as well as the Top Fuel dragster. I am very hands on. I love making things and I really love making things better.”
TMS – DSR builds so much in-house does that give you a lot of confidence when it comes to quality control?
AB – “It is especially special when you have such a close relationship with all the people that are making this happen. We are all an extension of the same body. All my trust is in the guys running the fab shop and then the guys on the CNC side where those guys are digging down. Everybody is collaborating and working together. We dream about ideas but they are the ones that bring our dreams to life and make them a reality. From the chrome-moly tubing to the carbon fiber to all our Titanium pieces to tubing to bolts and nuts on the race car these guys bring it from raw materials into a finished product. All our trust is in them. We know what we are dealing with and we know what we have and that gives you confidence. You almost get an aura that people can see when you are at the track winning races and championships.”
TMS – Can you talk about the benefits of using titanium?
AB – “Titanium is structurally strong but is a light material. You can get the same properties as steel or chrome-moly but it could be 30 percent less weight. That is the coolest part. We use Ti on a lot of different things. There are different types of Ti that people may not know about. There is the structural strength Ti and there is Ti you can make parts you can bolt on but might not be as strong but it is lighter. You have all these different metals and the coolest part is we work hand in hand with all the great people at TMS to get exactly what we need for the application we are working on. We use Titanium throughout everything. We aren’t just looking at light weight but we are also looking at all the safety. That is like our force field. It is nice to know when you have someone like TMS behind you giving you all the right stuff for the purpose you need to fill”.
TMS – You run your kids’ junior dragster program are you using titanium at that level?
AB – “Yeah, absolutely, we use a lot of Titanium on different pieces and parts on our heads-up Quick 16 car and our Outlaw car. Our heads-up cars we race to the 330 ft. with our junior dragsters where weigh and heads-up performance is a big deal. That is what we use it for. When we are trying to go fast and we need every advantage we can get on our quick cars and our elite fastest vehicles out there it is nothing but Ti.”
TMS – If you could have anything made out of titanium what would it be?
AB – “If I could have anything made out of Titanium, I would have my bones made out of Titanium. I would want to be light and nimble but also indestructible.”