Brown back, tries hand at drag racing


For more than 20 years, Bill Brown of Woodbine was a regular competitor on the oval track circuit until he retired in the mid-1980s.

After sitting on the sidelines for 10 years, Brown, 53, has returned to racing. Instead of dirt track racing, he is doing a little drag racing in nostalgia events with cars he has restored.

"I raced Figure-8's at Dorsey Speedway and late models at Dorsey, Lincoln, Potomac, Hagerstown and Susquehanna speedways," Brown said. "I was beginning to slow down in the early '80s as racing became more expensive. When Dorsey closed, I quit racing."

Brown remained close to racing as he helped his son Bill Jr. and nephew Joe with their racing efforts at Trail-Way Speedway. But that wasn't enough for a man who was always working on his race car.

Brown turned his interest to collectible cars. He concentrated his efforts on a 1961 Ford Falcon and was able to buy the car eight years ago.

"I was always a Ford fan," said Brown. "I knew the history of the car and kept my eye on it. When I got the chance to buy it, I did. It was in good condition, so I didn't have to do too much to it."

Brown didn't stop with the Falcon. Once he got it on the road, he began looking for another car to work with. Like most collectors, Brown ended up with a car similar to the first car he owned, a 1951 Ford.

"The car has been my favorite toy," said Brown. "I am constantly updating it."

While Brown has kept the car close to original, he has been customizing the car the way he would have liked it when he was a teen-ager. Now he has a little more money then when he owned his first Ford. Back then, what little money he had went to gas.

Brown was able to restore the car reasonably quickly. In less than a year he had the car ready to drive on the road. He considers the car about 85 percent complete, but he admits it will never be completed.

"I don't know what it is, but I can't leave it alone. I am always changing things," said Brown. "I want to keep changing things, It's like a sickness."

Parts for the car were difficult to find. It was during one of his parts expedition that he ended up at 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia during Nostalgia Day. He noticed that not only were the collectible cars on display, but their owners were racing them on the quarter-mile drag strip.

A year later, Brown returned with his car to show and race.

"I like racing the car. I don't tear them up like I did on the oval track," said Brown. "I like to see how quick I can make it go. Each time I go back I get a little quicker."

Brown has enjoyed this new level of competition. He has added a 1938 Chevrolet to his collection. But the car has a Ford drive train. He is also a member of East Coast Cruisers, a club that caters to car enthusiasts.

Owner of his own business, W.H. Brown & Sons Custom Homes, Brown would like to restore a vintage race car. He also has expressed interest in racing again in Legend cars, a new division of cars that resembles the Ford Coupes of the '50s, but at five-eighths the size.

With three cars to choose from, Brown expects to race at 75-80 more this year, catching the Ford Days along with Nostalgia Day.

Race results

Lincoln Speedway opened its season under sunny skies last Saturday. At Lincoln, Jesse Wentz of Manchester placed seventh in the 25-lap super-sprint feature. In the thundercars, Greg Messersmith of Hampstead grabbed the lead on the fifth lap and led the final 10 laps for his second career win. Klair Stonesifer of Union Bridge was sixth.

At the Harrisburg, Pa., Motorama Show, Steve Owings of Westminster finished third in the micro-sprint feature driving Brad McClelland's micro.

Last Sunday, the weather changed drastically, snowing out Hagerstown Speedway's opener.

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