“ Of course , my car has a super-long wheelbase , this is a lot shorter wheelbase , but the respect level is the same ,” Brown says . “ These cars are no joke . I always had a respect for it until you sit in it . When you get up close and personal and you see these radial tires on the back , I call them a Jr . Dragster tire on steroids . And on top of it , you throw a 3,500-4,000-horsepower engine in front of it . That ’ s a whole different ball of wax .
“ When I got in there and did the burnout , everything is the same on the rate of acceleration ,” Brown adds . “ The car takes off , it ’ s hauling the mail . You ’ re talking about a car that will still do . 900 60-foots . The car is almost as quick as a Funny Car to 60 foot . We ’ re like a tenth off on 60 foot .”
In just two passes , Brown noticed more than a few similarities between driving his Top Fuel dragster and wheeling Buginga ’ s Mustang . He appreciates the level of car Buginga put him in , and he ’ s taking his time getting comfortable in the seat and learning its limits .
“ The technology and the rate of acceleration these cars have to work with , it blows my mind ,” Brown says . “ I always respect every different aspect or discipline of drag racing – always have . Love it because everything is different . But these just break an entirely different mold . I think it ’ s pretty cool to mix both cultures because Top Fuel racing , Manny doesn ’ t realize , he ’ ll do great in the fuel car because there ’ s so many similarities where you have to respect this . If it gets out of
January / February 2023 shape , you lift and come back to drive another day . It ain ’ t no hero out there . Once it gets out of shape with that type of power on that type of tire , it ain ’ t coming back .
“ So for me , I have that respect and discipline to get used to . I ’ m just amazed the way that thing accelerates . I feel like I ’ m in my fuel car . Everything you have to be smooth and fluid . I ’ m just trying to learn and do it right .”
The radial racing newcomer has attracted extra attention to the class and to the Snowbirds in general . Mainstream racing media outlets have picked up on the happening , and there was a buzz around Buginga ’ s pit as fans and
BROWN ’ S FORAY INTO DRAG RADIAL RACING MAY HAVE STARTED AS A FUN COLLABORATION AMONG MUTUAL FRIENDS , BUT IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT BROWN AND TEAM WERE ALSO THERE TO WIN .
media members hoped to get a few minutes with the three-time Top Fuel champion . Brown has meshed well with Buginga ’ s all-star crew , and he even brought along Top Fuel co-crew chief Brian Corradi and car chief Brad Mason for the experience to fully combine the two worlds .
“ It ’ s a different feeling and I ’ m excited all in the same ,” Brown says . “ It ’ s good to mix both cultures together . Even though we ’ re all drag racers , this culture over here is so much different than our NHRA culture . I think we just need to mix both of them together , and hopefully this is the start of that to go forward .”
As testing wrapped up and qualifying began , it quickly became clear Brown was going to be a serious contender . He was the low qualifier with a 3.769 at 201.04 mph after the first session . Despite stepping up to a 3.745 at 201.13 in the third session , he lost the top spot to Marcus “ The Axman ” Birt in Tommy Youmans ’ “ Salvage Title ” Mustang previously owned by Buginga .
In eliminations , Miller had the “ Fred ” Mustang running on rails , as Brown won with a 3.771 at 201.94 in the first round , a 3.757 at 202.12 in the second round , and a 3.78 at 201.49 over Mike Decker III in the semifinals .
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