No time for pit stops
Braselton, Ga., (May 1, 2013) - The "Speed is Everything" phrase on the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda posters this season is an expression Jon Brownson embraces. With more than 30 years of racing experience, his need for speed on the track transcends into all aspects of his life.
Brownson learned the racing focus at an early age, attending Road America races in Elkhart, Wis., by age five. He remembers running around the paddock, taking snapshots and dreaming of his future racing career.
Fast forward 54 years and Brownson is competing at the top of the Master's class in the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Series. Last season he won the Master's class with 199 total points, 13 more than the next competitor.
The Aurora, Ill., native hopes for a repeat performance in the Prototype Lites series again this year.
"As an aspiring professional driver, the IMSA Lites performance race vehicle is the best a civilian could ask for," Brownson said. "It's lightweight, maneuverable and fast. It's a wonderful combination of all the cars I've raced and I think it is the truest pure race car a person could ask for."
But racing isn't the only speed sport in Brownson's life. During the early stages of his racing career, Brownson headed to the Rocky Mountains. From 1971-75 he competed for the four-time national champion University of Colorado at Boulder ski team and became a professional speed ski racer after completing his undergraduate degree in sports science.
Brownson maxed out at 121 mph on speed skis and now he hits 170 mph in his Élan DP 02 sports car.
Today, when the Breckenridge, Colo., resident isn't in the cockpit or on the slopes, he's exercising in some capacity.
"I'm kind of a workout addict," Brownson said. "During the summer I mountain bike and in the winter I'll get out my cross country skis. It's what I like to call obsessive compulsive behavior at its best."
Brownson's passion for extreme sports and unique exercise methods prepare him for extreme temperatures at the track. With 200-degree radiators on both sides of the car amid 100-degree heat, hot yoga helps him prepare for the summer season.
Building endurance from hot yoga compliments the aerodynamics taken into account while speed skiing. Brownson wears thin, tight layers of clothing while speed skiing, in stark contrast to his three-layer fire suit.
"The best part about both of these sports is the challenge of dealing with speed," Brownson said. "It's a challenging environment and to succeed at that challenge brings a great sense of accomplishment. And it's a lot of fun in the process."
Brownson plans to have some fun when he heads to Monterey, Calif., for the American Le Mans Monterey Presented by Patrón at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 9-11.