2012 NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown is one of 16 racers from 13 styles of racing from throughout the world to be nominated for the 7th annual presentation of the Mario Andretti Trophy as the Speed Performer of the Year.
"This might be one of the most difficult decisions to date," said Andretti, the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, and Formula One world championship. "Every year, a few racers seem to elevate themselves above the rest, but this is a season loaded with extremely strong and passionate performances that all deserve consideration."
Brown is joined by 2010 Speed Performer of the Year Sebastian Vettel (F-1), Fernando Alonso (F-1), Brad Keselowski (NASCAR), Jorge Lorenzo (MotoGP), Casey Stoner (MotoGP), Ryan Hunter-Reay (IndyCar), Kyle Larson (USAC), Sammy Swindell (World of Outlaws), Sebastien Loeb (World Rally), Andre Lotterer (World Endurance Championship), Max Biaggi (World Superbike), Scott Pruett (Grand-Am), Donny Schatz (WoO), Josh Hayes (AMA Pro Superbike), and Ryan Villopoto (Supercross).
Representing both four-wheel and two-wheel efforts across the globe, the Mario Andretti Trophy goes to the racer who puts a premium on winning races, shines on the sport's biggest stages, and does it all with a measure of sportsmanship and class.
Brown and his Matco Tools team out of Don Schumacher Racing won six NHRA national event titles in 11 championship rounds to earn his first NHRA world championship. The New Jersey native living in Pittsboro, Ind., led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, also was the No. 1 qualifier three times this season and set the NHRA elapsed time record in Top Fuel with a time of 3.701 seconds on Oct. 8 at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading.
Brown is the first African-American to win a major U.S. auto racing season championship.
The 36-year-old hopes to become the second drag racer on the elite roster; DSR teammate Tony Schumacher won the prestigious prize in 2009 after being runner-up the previous year.
Andretti will present the trophy, a 100-pound sculpture created by bronze artist Elie Hazak, as part of a Speed Center special Jan. 27.
The 2012 Speed Performer of the Year will be selected by a panel that includes Hall of Fame racing legends Andretti, Dan Gurney, Darrell Waltrip, Don Prudhomme, and Scott Russell; Wind Tunnel host Dave Despain; veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha, Ralph Sheheen, and Leigh Diffey; Speed.com writers Robin Miller, Tom Jensen, and Marshall Pruett; versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder; and a select group of Speed motorsports producers.
Former winners, runners-up:
- 2011 - Tony Stewart, NASCAR; Casey Stoner, MotoGP
- 2010 - Sebastian Vettel, F-1; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
- 2009 - Tony Schumacher, NHRA; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
- 2008 - Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Tony Schumacher, NHRA
- 2007 - Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Donny Schatz, WoO
- 2006 - Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR. Nicky Hayden, MotoGP