Life at 330 mph: Hot-rod champ to visit Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

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National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) champion Antron Brown will discuss his Top Fuel drag-racing career – including a fiery crash at the 2013 Winternationals – when he visits Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, on Monday, March 3. His 10,000-hp Matco Tools dragster will be parked in the lobby of Junker Center, where his talk, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7 p.m.

The car is an engineering marvel, a nitromethane rocket on 51-inch tires. Each cylinder in its V8 engine produces more horsepower than an entire NASCAR engine.

Top Fuel cars accelerate from 0 to 100 mph in less than 0.8 seconds. Their tires wear out every 2 miles.

Brown, 37, holds the NHRA elapsed-time record. He set it in Reading, Pa., in 2012, traveling 1,000 feet in just 3.701 seconds. His performance in the 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series made him the first African-American driver to win a major U.S. motorsports championship.

Brown’s early success came on a different type of track: As a student at Mercer Junior College, he was fast enough in the 100-meter dash to qualify for the 1997 Olympic trials. He switched to motorsports when a relative, former NFL cornerback Troy Vincent, bought a Pro Stock Motorcycle team. The bikes hit a top speed of 199 mph.

Brown first buckled into the cockpit of a Top Fuel dragster in 2008. He won his fourth race, beating three-time series champion Larry Dixon, and has since added 25 more event titles, including a win at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix on Feb. 23. Brown, who now drives for Don Schumacher Racing, has posted a top speed of 328.78 mph.

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