by Ainsley Jacobs
Growing up in the shadow of her multitime NHRA Top Fuel champion father, Antron Brown, 21-year-old Arianna Brown never had a problem finding her own light with which to shine. Now, Arianna is busy building the life of her dreams – and that life definitely includes a big dose of drag racing.
Arianna raced in the NHRA Jr. Dragster program when she was young, but the Brownsburg, Ind., native took a few years off in her late teens to focus on school as well as her competitive dance career. “I’ve always had an interest in racing,” she explained, “but I know I can’t dance forever, so I chased that first.”
Ready to move up from her half-scale dragster to a full-size competition vehicle and follow in both her father’s and her brother Anson’s footsteps as both previously completed courses at Frank Hawley’s Drag Racing School, Arianna recently attended so that she could obtain her NHRA Super Comp license and open the door of opportunity for a future filled with fast-paced action.
Thanks to her experience in the Jr. ranks, Arianna had a good handle on what to expect but still took the time to actively prepare prior to starting the two-day Super Comp course.
“I thought it would be all professionals and experienced racers, but I was happy to see it was a good mix of people – some who hadn’t touched a car ever before and some refreshing their skills, and it made me feel comfortable,” she shared of her initial experience.
"Nobody realized I was Antron Brown’s daughter at first, too, which was pretty funny.”
In the classroom, Frank Hawley’s candor and comforting personality made Arianna feel right at home, too. “He made sure we knew everything before we got in the car so that we would be safe,” said Arianna. “It reminded me of how I feel with my dad.”
For her first pass on the track, Arianna was both excited as well as nervous. She related the experience to a dance routine and went through the process of completing all the steps she had learned in order, and the result was nothing short of thrilling. “It was a light switch moment for me … this is where I want to be, so why didn’t I do this sooner?” she proclaimed.
After each run, Arianna and her classmates, including Joe Maynard whose family co-owns Don Schumacher Racing’s Top Fuel team, headed back to the classroom to watch their videos and review their performances; she was surprised to see how straight she was able to pilot the dragster down the track, even while topping speeds of 160 mph.
“I remember many years ago when Antron came and drove our Alcohol dragster. He was amazingly good, considering he had never raced those cars,” reminisced Hawley. Since then, Antron has returned with two of his children and has clearly passed on his skills. “Both of them did remarkably well. Anson had immediate success, winning his first two races! I can’t wait to see how Arianna will do. I wish her well!”
Although Arianna absolutely loved the thrill of blasting down 1,320 feet of pavement and having all of the attention on her instead of on her father for a change. “I especially enjoyed Frank’s lectures on the psychology of success. I can apply those lessons and insights to all areas of my life, including dance,” she affirmed.
Looking ahead to what will assuredly be a very bright future for Arianna, the ambitious young woman hopes to both own her a dance studio and maintain a racing career on the weekends with her father’s AB Motorsports team. “I don’t think I’ll be able to die happy if I don’t try Top Fuel at least once,” she laughed. “But, for now, I’m planning to do some bracket races around the Indy area and in the Midwest with my brother.”