BROWNSBURG, Ind. - Antron Brown is one of 16 racers from 13 different styles of racing from throughout the world to be nominated for the 7th annual presentation of the Mario Andretti Trophy as the SPEED Performer of the Year.
"This might be one of the most difficult decisions to date," said Andretti, the only driver to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and Formula One world championship.
"Every year, a few racers seem to elevate themselves above the rest, but this is a season loaded with extremely strong and passionate performances that all deserve consideration."
Representing both four-wheel and two-wheel efforts across the globe, the Mario Andretti Trophy goes to the racer who puts a premium on winning races, shines on the sport's biggest stages and does it all with a measure of sportsmanship and class.
Brown won six NHRA national event titles in 11 championship rounds to earn his first NHRA world championship. The New Jersey native living in Pittsboro, Ind., led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, also was the No. 1 qualifier three times this season and set the NHRA elapsed time record in Top Fuel with a time of 3.701 seconds on Oct. 8 at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.
Brown is the first African-American to win a major U.S. auto racing season championship.
The 36-year-old hopes to join DSR teammate Tony Schumacher as the only drivers in drag racers to win the prestigious prize. Schumacher won it in 2009 after being runner-up the previous year.
Andretti will present the trophy, a 100-pound sculpture created by bronze artist Elie Hazak, as part of a SPEED Center special January 27.
The 2012 SPEED Performer of the Year is selected by a panel including Hall-of-Fame racing legends Andretti, Dan Gurney, Darrell Waltrip, Don Prudhomme, Scott Russell, "Wind Tunnel" host Dave Despain, veteran broadcasters Bob Varsha, Ralph Sheheen and Leigh Diffey, SPEED.com writers Robin Miller, Tom Jensen and Marshall Pruett, versatile racers Tommy Kendall and Dorsey Schroeder and a select group of SPEED motor sports producers.
Former winners, runners-up
2011 - Tony Stewart, NASCAR; Casey Stoner, MotoGP
2010 - Sebastian Vettel, F1; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
2009 - Tony Schumacher, NHRA; Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
2008 - Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Tony Schumacher, NHRA
2007 - Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR; Donny Schatz, WoO
2006 - Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR. Nicky Hayden, MotoGP
Don Schumacher Racing