Tim Brown’s 12th Bowman Gray championship arrives with unique blend of emotions

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — With his No. 83 Modified parked in the middle of the football field at Bowman Gray Stadium, Tim Brown removed his helmet to reveal the emotion.

Amid the shedding of tears, a surprisingly stoic look for somebody who’d just won his record 12th track championship remained on the 51-year-old’s face as he climbed out of his car. There were no screams of joy, hugs with team members or other displays of triumph. Brown immediately knelt to the ground and welcomed his son Cam and daughter Marley into his arms.

This — not what he had accomplished on the legendary quarter-mile oval in 2022 — was what made Brown’s 12th Bowman Gray Stadium Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series championship special.

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“It’s probably the pinnacle of my career right there,” Brown said of the post-race embrace with his kids Saturday. “Since I got married to Megan and knew we were going to have kids, and Cam was born, I couldn’t wait until the day I could win a race and enjoy that with my kids in Victory Lane.

“I didn’t win the race, but I won the championship, and that’s the first time I’ve gotten to celebrate with Cam, Marley and Megan in Victory Lane, along with my brother and all my family of race team members.”

Brown’s unforgettable family moment was the highlight of an otherwise melancholy championship celebration Saturday night. He finished third in the 150-lap Modified feature, meaning he ended the 2022 Bowman Gray season without a win.

Brown’s consistent speed allowed him to clinch the title over the likes of Brandon Ward, Chris Fleming, Jonathan Brown, Burt Myers and Jason Myers. Last season, Tim Brown became the first driver to win 11 Bowman Gray titles with his first championship since 2015. His 12th, though impressive, came with a lack of flair.

Tim Brown
(Photo: Tadd Haislop/NASCAR)

“Twelve championships is impressive, and it does mean a lot to me,” Brown said. “But I already had more than anybody with 11. What’s running in the back of my mind right now, just over and over, is that I did it without winning a race. And that sucks.

“I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll put it behind me and know we’re 12-time champions and forget about this season; come back next year and win a lot of races and another championship.”

Brown’s wide range of emotions Saturday night were not simply the result of his missing out on a win. His personal life had been a whirlwind leading up to championship night.

Brown’s father-in-law suffered a heart attack a week prior to the title race and was scheduled to undergo bypass surgery, all while his sister-in-law and her husband had their first child a few days before the race.

“We pulled through it,” Brown said. “We managed to pull it off. I’m blessed and very proud of all the effort we’ve put in the whole year; not just the races here, but leading up to here working our guts out in the shop all winter to build these cars and coming out here and performing.

“Winning the championship, it’s a huge deal. I just wish I could have won a race or two doing it.”

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Well after Brown’s embrace with his family Saturday, he was still wiping his face. This wasn’t the result of emotion, though. He was trying to get the champagne out of his eyes.

“I don’t drink; never have, never will,” Brown said. “Somebody said I smell like a mimosa. I was like, ‘What is that?'”

Brown was speaking with a smile. And despite the disappointment that comes with a winless season, that smile persisted.

Perhaps Brown under the surface knew the truth many in racing come to realize. The memories of wins and losses pale in comparison to those made with family and friends at the race track.

And he made one hell of a memory with those people Saturday night at Bowman Gray.