HEBRON, Ohio (May 1) — When 12-year-old Makenna Brown arrived at National Trail Raceway for the first JEGS ET Series race of the 2012 season, she received a champion’s welcome, complete with good-natured reminders that she was now the racer that everyone would be gunning for in the Jr. Dragster 2 class.
“A lot of people were telling me I had a target on my back,” the freckled-faced Brown said with a mischievous smile. “I told all of them the same thing — I want to win another championship just as much as they want to take it from me, so they’re going to have to fight me for it.”
Showing championship form, Brown then went out and let her yellow and black JEGS dragster do the rest of the talking for her as she mowed down the race day field to take yet another trophy and the early-season points lead.
“It was so great to get back in my JEGS dragster,” said Brown, the granddaughter of JEGS founder Jeg Coughlin Sr. and his wife Sue. “It seemed like forever since we’d run a race. I was so excited leading into the weekend. I’d been dreaming about this race ever since last season ended.
“We spent a lot of time saying hello to all of our friends. I missed my track family a lot. We’re all out there trying to win, which means some times we have to race each other, but aside from that we’re all a big, happy group of people that absolutely love drag racing.”
Brown opened eliminations with back-to-back wins over brothers Nathan and Nick Altenbach. Both times she used superior reaction times to get an early jump on her opponents and drove away to confidence-building wins.
Next was fellow female racer Courtney Grisez, who had done an excellent job getting to the semifinals on her side of the ladder. But the race was over at the starting line when Grisez fouled out with a -.012 second red-light.
Looking for a little extra luck before her final-round showdown with Jacob Oiler, Brown took a few minutes to try and find a four-leaf clover in the expansive fields adjacent to the staging lanes at National Trail Raceway. Remarkably, she found one before she had to strap in her car, and with the lucky token in her pocket, she gained another huge starting line advantage to dismiss Oiler and take the win.
“The four-leaf clover worked,” Brown said. “It’s so great to win the first race for JEGS. We went out to eat (Monday) night with Uncle Jeg (Coughlin Jr.) and I gave him the four-leaf clover so he can get a win also. He’s taught me so much about racing and I hope that four-leaf clover works for him like it worked for me.
“I won my first race ever and I’ve been lucky enough to win some more, plus the championship, but this one ranks right up there as one of my favorite wins. It’s definitely different now being the defending champion but I still want to win as much as I did before.
“Maybe the best part was going for pizza at Tommy’s Pizza with my parents after the race and spending all day at the race track with my BCC (Best Crew Chief) Tom Stilwell. I know I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Brown’s next race takes place May 12-13 on Mothers Day weekend at National Trail Raceway.