- By Sarah J. Bartholomew
CCU alumni became a NASCAR driver
Have you heard of Brandon Brown, the NASCAR driver and Coastal Carolina alumni?
A Virginia native, Brown grew up loving everything built with a motor. Before he became famous, a Chevrolet Silverado was the go-cart on which he rode around in his grandfather’s yard. By the age of 12, Brown was racing competitively on a national level.
Brown shared what keeps him returning to the track.
“I love the speed . .. the edge of control. The driving itself and pushing yourself to be better, to be the best,” he said.
During high school, Brown raced in Virginia and North Carolina and dreamed of gaining more traction after graduation. However, Brown shared, life got in the way. When it comes to professional racing, he explains, “. . . you pay more than you’re paid,” which is due to the fact that most drivers can only land larger, more competitive races through the help of sponsors.
Brown had to adjust his trajectory after graduating high school. He began working for a construction company, which “taught [him] the value of a dollar” which redefined small wins into personal victories.
By strengthening his work ethic in construction and maintaining his skills as a driver, Brown began attending a community college in Virginia. After completing his general education courses, Brandon left Virginia and headed to Conway, South Carolina. He enrolled in Coastal Carolina University and announced a Communications major in 2015. Around this time, his father established a professional support team called Brandonbilt Motorsports. Just a year later, Brown came in fourth place in the 2016 NextERA Energy Resources 250 at Daytona National Speedway. Brown considers this race, as well as his first late model stock race, to be his most memorable races. His family has provided incredible support and encouragement through their presence at his events, most notably his first late model stock race.
There was an additional adjustment to be made once Brown graduated from CCU. Although he had plenty of experience in the workplace, post-grad life seemed like an insurmountable challenge.
“At Coastal, there was a syllabus for time management, I could go back and forth with professors. I knew when I was going to be busy,” he said.
He stressed the importance of seeking out professors and advisors, whilst also growing in personal responsibility.
“There’s no life syllabus! I’m still looking. There's no telling what happens every day. There is less “doing work” and more problem solving,” Brown said.
Brown gives credit to his inherited expert advice and instruction from the opportunities he took advantage of while at Coastal Carolina.
As a sophomore headed into junior year, Brown interned for Bill Plate, the vice president of university communication. Neither of them could have predicted the limitless possibilities that arose when the two of them, along with Lindsi Glass, began working together at the department offices. Through the work relationships that Brown fostered, he received a sponsorship from CCU. It was through Plate’s faith in Brown and also Plate’s own love of racing that CCU started the ongoing support which continues today. You can see CCU’s teal colors, name in bold, and the Chanticleer on Brown’s own car wraps.
Brown encourages college students and young drivers to hone their skills. The four year college experience provides a welcoming environment for students to test their abilities and discover their talents and passions. He speaks to those who are motivated to pursue more and stretch their limits and has some advice.
“Meet everyone that you can. . . it’s a who you know factor,” he said.
Whether your talent is showcased on a stage, on a field or on a speedway, the professional relationships you build will help propel your forward.
Today, Brown is back in his home state of Virginia. When asked about a future move, he shared that he would love to find a place in the mountains, away from the buzz of D.C. It seems that race car drivers aren’t fans of traffic jams. Brown is dedicated to his life and work, all of which is poured onto the racetrack. In his very little free time, he enjoys listening to live music and attending powersports events.
Brown extended a thank you to CCU: to President DeCenzo for his interest and support, Lindsi Glass for her guidance in marketing, and the rest of the communications department which fostered his dream from the get-go and decorated their offices with his racing schedule. He considers his mom and dad his number one support team
“Dad’s still heavily involved, big cheese, works there full time for my racing, but also work with the team to prepare for next races,” he said.
He encourages CCU students to keep their noses in the books. When the lessons get theoretical, Brown shares, stay with. Although concepts can seem abstract, “it’s real and it works!”
He proudly stated that he has put into practice the material he learned as a student. The time to develop your work ethic is now, and he explained that it helps to get involved with the university as much as possible.
Brown’s next race will be the Drive for the Cure 300 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on September 28. It will be the second race of the Xfinity Series Playoffs. You can support the CCU alumni through his Instagram @brandonbrown_86 or Facebook @brandonbrownrac.