Antron Brown’s move toward owning his own Top Fuel team has gathered a lot of interest, as well as questions about the structure of his deal and what it means for Don Schumacher Racing this year and in the future. The current owner of the Matco Tools Dragster team, Don Schumacher, clarified some of the mystery while watching five of his teams in preseason testing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“It’s a work in progress, and we’ll see how it progresses and transitions. It’s my team at this point, and I’m running the team and everybody works for DSR. All of that is still in place,” Schumacher said. “He has formed Antron Brown Motorsports, and I support that and am trying to help him work in that direction. His goals are beyond having just one Top Fuel car.”
News of Brown’s bold step triggered speculation about the future of DSR. But Schumacher put that to rest: “I would not be here if I did not have a passion for this sport and love for this sport. I’m not looking to exit and go anywhere. And if I could assist every one of my employees to better themselves and take another step in life, at this point in my life, that’s what I’m here to try to do. I will be involved with Antron Brown Motorsports for however long he does that. I will be part of that organization ongoing. I have no interest in stepping away and thinking I’m going to put my feet up on a lounge chair. That isn’t me. I can’t do that. That is not any reason that this is in the works. It’s a goal that Antron has that if I can assist him and help him accomplish it the right way, it’ll be great. But I won’t let him stub his toe. He’ll have my total assistance in any way I can help.”
Schumacher said he is supportive of Brown’s initiative and is sharing his business insight with the ambitious three-time Top Fuel champion and former Pro Stock Motorcycle title contender.
“We’ll see how it goes forward. Owning and running a business is a lot more than a lot of people realize, [more than] just sitting and looking at an Excel spreadsheet. There are just some realities you have to deal with,” the multi-car team owner said. “Everyone has goals, and if I can assist him in accomplishing his goal, I’m there to do that. You always want your employees and team members to better themselves.
“But I have to warn Antron, which I have, this isn’t an easy business. It’s a very difficult business, and you can lull yourself into believing ‘Oh, yeah, this much income is coming in.’ But nothing comes in [from] the end of Pomona, the last race, until Pomona the next race, and you have a payroll and-and-and-and. These expenditures go on. And yeah, your sponsors will start to send you money in January and February, but you spend a lot more than is coming in. It’s not as easy as you can make it look on an Excel spreadsheet. It’s easy to lull yourself into an unrealistic expectation,” he said.
“If you don’t have the financial wherewithal to deal with everything, it’ll come apart real quick. And as I’ve told Antron, the last thing I will do is assist him to get into a business that’ll disrupt him sending his kids to college. All of those things are a lot more important, family-wise, than this.”
Schumacher didn’t reveal a timetable for the transition to be completed but said, “Everybody would like to have everything happen yesterday. And all I could tell him was ‘Slow down. Slow down. Take it easy. There’s a lot of time ahead of us. Let’s just work on it step by step. You have to be careful. Learn your way through it, and we’ll go from there.’
“Antron’s a very creative individual who’s very energized and loved by everybody. He’s very successful in putting things together. He got into the motorcycle racing industry and got out. There’s not a business that’s easy. I don’t care what business it is.”
Schumacher knows. In addition to building Schumacher Electric into a global powerhouse and operating drag-racing’s largest and most successful team, he also has owned a jewelry store in Los Angeles, among other endeavors. He said, “I’ve had my finger into a lot of things, from night clubs to raising emus and selling off mated pairs of emus. I’ve done a lot of different things in my life, but my foundation really has been Schumacher Electric and Motorsports. And I’ve kept the motorsports to a narrow area to where it’s strictly drag racing. I’ve had opportunities to go off in other directions, but there’s only one of me and I can concentrate and immerse myself in only so much.”
As for Brown, he said, “I’m here to help Antron and hopefully nurture him through this and it be the right thing and the right decisions get made along the way.”
Surrounded by the bright lights and myriad distractions of Las Vegas, Brown and Schumacher spent until about 10 p.m. Wednesday evening working on this project. According to Schumacher, they were “just kind of going over things – because we need to. He needs to understand. We can set a budget for 2020, but then you have to be concerned about all these other things. And if you make a profit, you have to pay taxes on it. There’s a lot of challenges to everything.”
Schumacher said so far, none of his other drivers has spoken with him about a desire to branch off on his or her own, like Brown has done. If they did, he said, he “would have to tell every one of them, ‘Go slow with this.’ It’s hard to say if any of them or every one of them wants to come forward and say, ‘Hey, I’d love to do this also.’ I haven’t had a conversation with anyone else about it.’”
So, to Schumacher’s knowledge, Brown’s decision hasn’t lit a fire under any of his DSR colleagues. “There maybe all kinds of fires going on,” he said, “but I haven’t had to deal with any of them as of yet.”