Brandon Brown picks up big-time fan support as he pursues truck sponsorship

Photos by Daylon Barr

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

MARTINSVILLE, Va. –  When Brandon Brown was looking for sponsorship to run in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville on Saturday, he didn’t get it. Instead, he got some love. In fact, a lot of it.

Brown, whose primary sponsor on his truck is Coastal Carolina University, where he attends school, had an eventful day in Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250 as he finished 27th in the Martins Motorsports No. 44 Chevrolet truck.

But Brown, a 23-year-old with great disposition, focused on the positive.

“I’m happy with the fact that the truck is in one piece, the body is in one piece,” said Brown after his first Truck race of the season. “We were able to learn a lot setup-wise coming to a track like this.”

Brown, a Woodbridge, Virginia native, did notice an uptick in his popularity on Saturday as he made his first Truck start of the season. He said many fans came up to him for autographs and photographs ahead of the race. After the event, more fans surrounded the truck eager to locate their names on the white truck with the No. 44 in yellow lettering.

You see, when Brown was trying to find support for Saturday’s race, he posted it on his Twitter account.  He got over 4,000 retweets, according to Public Relations representative Collin Fern. But he never got the sponsorship dollars he sought.

So Brown decided to honor his followers for their support by putting their Twitter handles on the otherwise bare Martins Motorsports Chevrolet truck. In all, there were 680 Twitter handles – including those of 100 random folks who retweeted the original message — on the bed of the machine. Above the passenger door was one ‘special’ name. It was that of Peter Varney, who made the biggest donation to Brown’s ‘Relay for Life,’ a fundraiser for cancer research that’s hosted by Coastal Carolina University.

“We try and give back to the fans a little bit; show some appreciation for the following that we get as a small team,” said Brown, a junior in college.

Brown said the names of Michael Waltrip, Bristol Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway were also on the truck, but the biggest might have been Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s.

“I know it’s not much to him to hit retweet, but to us, it means the world,” Brown said. “For him to take  time out of his day to do that, it means a lot.”

Brown said he has never met Earnhardt, but would love to. He said if he ever got the chance to meet NASCAR’s 14-time most popular driver, he would have a lot of questions for him.

“What does it take to race with the caliber that you do? What does it take to be marketable? What about Dale Earnhardt Jr. that makes him Dale Earnhardt Jr.?” said Brown, rattling off potential questions he’d ask.

“There are a lot of things you want to ask and get to know him. He is just a real genuine, straight shooter, so he’s somebody that you almost want to call your friend.”

Brown’s NASCAR career began in 2014, running the No. 86 Chevy Silverado truck for his dad, Jerry Brown. He has 22 career starts in NASCAR’s No. 3 series. But he made some new friends at the track on Saturday.  He said he was pleased to see the photos that were posted to social media after meeting some of the fans.

But after the race, though, he didn’t take the night off.  Brown said he had to go back to school.

Brown juggles a part-time schedule in the Truck and Xfinity Series while studying marketing and communications. He is scheduled to graduate in December of 2018. The charismatic Brown said he wanted to incorporate what he learns in college into racing as his Plan B.

“My passion is racing, but if I can’t do that then I would love to do something in the marketing field involving motorsports,” said Brown, who has maintained good grades to make the Dean’s List every semester.

Attending Coastal Carolina has been a blessing for Brown as the school has been behind him. But the way the partnership came about, it’s one more proof that social media has been good to Brown.

In 2015, he said he was at Atlanta without a sponsor for his truck. As he was donning his CCU cap, someone took his photo and posted it online. The school saw it. Later, he was called in by the communications department to explain “what it is that he does.” Making the sponsorship pitch to his school then became easier, he said.

“It’s something that I got really lucky with,” he said. “I’m so thankful.”

Brown is trying to run four Truck races this year despite still facing the sponsorship challenge.

And though Brown didn’t get the funding for Saturday, he is grateful for the new followers he picked up during his pursuit of financial backing.  He also doesn’t plan to give up on his racing career.

“The sport will do more to beat you down, but as long as you don’t quit there is a future for everyone in this sport,” he said.

 

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