Tears trickled down Tim Brown’s face as he talked to the crowd Saturday night at Caraway Speedway (NC) after winning the Southern Modified Racing Series feature.
The night was particularly emotional for the North Carolina native who, aside from celebrating both his birthday and wedding anniversary that weekend, was able to dedicate one last victory to his ill grandfather.
“My grandpa’s not going to make it much longer,” Brown struggled to say. “I told myself I wanted to win this race and take him the trophy.”
Brown’s wish started to come true towards the end of the 71-lap race while running in third.
Brandon Ward and Tom Buzze both spun after making contact during their heated battle for the lead, sending both drivers to the rear of the field and surrendering the lead to Brown.
Brown maintained the lead without competition until one final caution pitted him against Ward on the restart. It only took several laps for Brown to lose Ward in the rearview mirror.
“Brandon is a great race car driver, a clean driver, and I think the world of him,” Brown said. “I knew that if I could clear him, I could drive away from him. The good Lord was with me. I drove away from him and we won one for Pa.”
Whether his second SMRS win of the season came from talent, divine intervention or a little of both, there’s no question that racing is in Brown’s blood.
Brown’s grandfather Ebart Clifton, fondly known by the racing community as “Eb”, has been building and driving his own racecars since 1946.
And if being the embodiment of grassroots stock car racing isn’t enough, Clifton is also a war veteran.
“My grandfather, he fought in World War II,” Brown said. “We need to thank all of our veterans. . . show them you appreciate them. Because we couldn’t do any of this without them.”
Brown will show his appreciation when he hands his grandfather the trophy, a proud reminder of Clifton’s legacy.
“It’s bittersweet,” Brown said. “I just thank God for the 90-some years we’ve had my grandpa here and I can’t wait to take him that trophy.”
Brown will continue to honor his grandfather by racing the family’s No. 83 Modified, an ode to Clifton’s 6-cylinder Chevy that adorned the same numbers in a different century.
“I love racing and I love my grandpa,” Brown said as he ended his victory lane interview Saturday night.
-By Melissa Strahley, Speed51.com Gulf Coast Editor
-Photo credit: Brad Newman Photography