The Ottumwa Courier

April 30, 2013

Aaron Brown remembered


---- — Hello race fans, and welcome to another edition of The Pit Stop.

This past weekend I got to announce two nights of racing, and one of the competitors brought back some fond memories of one of the best Stock Car racers in the area from several years ago.

Mike Brown of New Sharon was competing in the Pro Stock division at the Figure 8 races at The Brooklyn Raceway, and he is the third generation in the Brown family to pilot the number 54. Mike’s grandfather, Jim Brown, started the Brown family tradition to race the number 54, and he raced in the Sportsman, Late Model and Stock Car divisions at local tracks.

I wrote about Jim many years ago in one of my columns and I asked him why he selected the number 54. He said it was the county number for Keokuk County, which was the county he lived in, and not from the show “Car 54 Where Are You?”

Jim passed down his driving skills to son, Aaron, and he was a fierce competitor in the Stock Car ranks for several years before he left us tragically 19 years ago in March 1994. Aaron was one of my favorite drivers to talk to or interview, and it didn’t take much to get him to flash that ornery grin on his face.

He left us way too early, and I must say that it is neat to see that number 54 back out on the track with Mike behind the wheel. I mentioned over the microphone this past weekend about announcing the number 54 and Mike’s father, Aaron, and his grandfather, Jim, and I had to stop and take a few moments to think about some of those great races that involved the number 54 in the past.

Jim Brown was a great racer, Aaron Brown was a great racer and Mike Brown is making a name for himself. I am sure Aaron is looking down with that ornery grin on his face seeing the number 54 on the track.

Racing this week kicks off tomorrow night at The Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, where the night is sponsored by Watters Autoland and the IMCA Late Models will make their first stop of five visits at the track for racing action. They were able to get their opening night completed last Wednesday, and local racers visiting victory lane were Cayden Carter of Oskaloosa in the Modifieds, Curtis Van Der Wal of Oskaloosa in the Sport Modifieds and Dustin Griffiths of Ottumwa in the Hobby Stocks.

Eddyville Raceway Park will have a test and tune fun night Friday, and Saturday racing action will be a practice day.

The Bloomfield Speedway will be celebrating Nurses’ Week with nurses being admitted free with proper identification on Saturday night. Last week’s season opener at Bloomfield saw local racers take victories with Carter Vandenberg of Oskaloosa in the Sport Modifieds, Jim Lynch of Bloomfield in the Stock Cars, Dustin Griffiths of Ottumwa in the Hobby Stocks and Jim Garrett of Ottumwa in the Sport Compacts.

The Knoxville Raceway has a night of racing this Saturday, sponsored by Slideways Karting Center and Pella Printing, where the 410, 360 and 305 Sprint Cars will be in competition. Last Saturday night, Tyler Groenendyk of Oskaloosa had a good run in the 360s with a second-place finish, and in the 305 Sprinters, Nick Ross of Oskaloosa finished in fourth, place and right behind him in fifth was Mike Mayberry of Fremont.

This past Sunday night at Knoxville they had a special night of racing for the Hobby Stocks, Stock Cars, Sport Modifieds and Modifieds with several area racers faring well in the features. Andrew Schroeder of Clive, formerly of Keswick, took the top honors in the Modifieds while Mike Hughes of Oskaloosa won the Hobby Stocks. Bobby Greene of Eddyville finished in eighth place in the Hobby Stocks while Nathan Wood of Sigourney took home a fifth-place finish in the Stock Cars. The Sport Modified feature saw Carter Vandenberg of Oskaloosa finish third, and Curtis Van Der Wal of Oskaloosa came across the stripe in tenth.

Well I better go for this week. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you at the track. Gone racin’.