Jonathan Brown always knew he wanted to be a race car driver. As a native of North Carolina, a state known for its ties to racing, the sport was never far from his sight. In fact, he grew up just two miles from Bowman Gray Stadium, a track rich in racing history.
“If we weren’t at the track on Saturday night, we could hear the cars from our front porch,” said Brown.
Racing, has always been a part of who Brown is. He admits he and his brother would race anything. Matchbox cars, to bicycles, the older they got it was dirt bikes; they even raced by foot around the house. Competition just became a part of who he was.
Brown’s uncle was a 2x time modified champion at Bowman Gray, and part of the reason he aspired to become a modified racer. It was far from an easy road, more trial and error than anything, he said. At the age of 16, Brown’s father bought him a street stock racecar, drove him to Bowman Gray and they raced that night for the first time. Over the following years Brown would work on his skills and his racecars. He prides himself on being able to work on and build his cars from the ground up.
“I run a company, I cut trees for a living,” he said, “But I build every square inch of those cars. 20 to 40 hours a week on them. I don’t have 10 guys helping. I have my brother, a friend and occasionally my dad”
It wasn’t until 2003 that Brown ran a full season of Street Stock at Bowman Gray Stadium. That rookie year he won 9 races and finished top 3 in the points series.
Brown went on a racing hiatus after that year. In 2009, he was cast to be in the show, “Madhouse” which aired on the History Channel. The show chronicled the ups and down of racing the modified division at Bowman Gray Stadium. It was his rookie year in a modified race car, he won 3 races that season and finished 3rd in the points series.
Finishing top 3 in the points series on the show, gained Brown many new fans across the country. He had built a following that traveled far and wide to meet and watch his guest racing appearances. People invited Brown to drive their cars, cars he had not sat in until race day. He won over 30 races that year, and holds 6 track records.
The following four years Brown would finish in the top 4 in the modified points series at the famed Bowman Gray Stadium. Since then, Brown has only run a handful of races each year but finished top 5, and won at least one race a year. Putting him at over 100 career wins thus far.
In 2018, Brown plans to make his comeback.
“This is my year, “ he said. “We have better resources, brand new cars and we are coming for the points.”