Race cars had been turning laps on a quarter-mile track around a football field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina for 22 years before Tim Brown was even born in 1971. Racing at Bowman Gray Stadium has now been existent for 66 years, and now Brown has a chance to really cement his place in the Bowman Gray record books.
Brown, 43, is just one win away from becoming the all-time wins leader at what is arguably the most famous short track in America. He’s currently tied with the 64-year-old Junior Miller atop the leaderboard with 73 career wins.
“When I first started racing I never dreamed I’d become the winningest driver anywhere,” Brown told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I just wanted to race. I’ve been fortunate enough to win a bunch of races and a bunch of championships.”
When Brown says “a bunch of championships,” he really means 10 of them dating back to 1996, with his most recent Bowman Gray title coming in 2012. No one has as many championships at Bowman Gray as Brown.
“This is the only record I don’t have,” Brown said. “I already own the record for the most poles and championships so if I get this record then that will be really special.”
In the past two years combined, Brown has won six times in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition at Bowman Gray with four wins coming in 2013 and two wins last season. It was two years ago when Brown finally started to realize where he ranked on the all-time wins list, and what he might be able to achieve.
“The year before last the media started asking me about it,” said Brown. “Honestly I didn’t even think about it because I’m nowhere near the end of my career, but I realized, ‘Hey that’s a pretty big deal.'”
While Brown has scored one win so far this season, he’s not exactly thrilled with how his year has gone so far. His brand new LFR Chassis has certainly been fast, but he’s just not where he wants to be or thinks he should be.
“I’m pretty pleased with where we are but I’d like to get more wins and be leading the points,” Brown said. “We’re fifth in the points, but only because I got spun out with two laps to go in the second race last week, but I feel strong about our chances for winning more races this year and contending for the championship.
“We’ve been fast right out of the truck. Out of the four qualifying sessions we’ve had two poles and qualified second twice. Last week the car was really good and we sat on the pole and won the race.”
This weekend Brown has two chances to continue to prove that he’s fast and possibly break the tie with Miller. The Modifieds have 100-lap events on Friday and Saturday night at the Stadium.
But even if Brown doesn’t get the win this weekend, he’ll be okay with that. As much as he wants to hold the record, that isn’t what drives him.
“It’s honestly a lot bigger of a deal to other people than it is to me,” explained Brown. “I just want to keep winning races. I just want to be looked at as one of the great ones that raced there.”
Part of that stems from how close the top of the record list is. Brown and Miller may be tied, but Burt Myers isn’t that far away with 63 wins to his credit.
“For me it isn’t about who holds the record,” said Brown. “I just want to keep putting more notches in the win column. It’s special, don’t get me wrong. But records are made to be broken and I’m sure some day someone will beat mine.”
But there’s a good chance that the record will stand as Brown’s for many years without being broken. As it is, Brown said he isn’t anywhere near done with racing. He has plenty of years left in his Bowman Gray career and plenty of checkered flags to continue to claim.
“I hate to even throw a number out there,” said Brown when asked how many more years he thinks he has left. “As long as I can continue to have good sponsors and be competitive and keep winning races then I can see myself racing into my 50’s. But I’m not going to race into my 60’s or 70’s. I know that for sure. There’s other things I want to do in life after racing like fishing and hunting and spending time with my wife.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com