October 3, 2013 – Story/Photo By Nick Graziano – Some may know him as the hard charging racer who is never at a loss for words and some others as the hard working family man. As of Sept. 15, 2013 everyone knows the driver of the Ray Hedger No. 13 as five-time Small Block Supermodified champion.
By attaining his fifth championship, Russ Brown added to his already impressive career. He retains his top standing of holding the most championships in the Pathfinder Bank SBS series, which includes winning the first championship of the series in 1992 and three straight from 2005 to 2007. By the end of the season he also secured the top spot on the all-time top five’s list with a total of 110 top five’s.
One record Brown was not able to improve on this year was his win count. He won the championship the hard way by relying on his pure consistency due to not making a trip to victory lane. Although winning was a goal, the missing feat did not take any pride away from winning the championship.
“We care about the win, but the way the handicap system is at Oswego, it is hard to get up through there every weekend,” Brown said. “We had a couple opportunities (to win), we just missed them. It was basically our own fault anyway. We’ll take the championship because that was the main goal. That’s what we went for and that’s what we did. So it all worked out alright.”
Brown said that he considers his fifth championship to be a nice going away present as he plans to whine down his career and leave 2013 as the final time he will run full-time for points. It is a decision Brown can make regrettably with a long list of accomplishments and finding success since the beginning of his career.
In his early teens Brown began racing go-karts locally in Geneva, N.Y. for about four years before moving up to the national circuit. With numerous wins under his belt and ranking second in the nation, Brown moved on to full body cars and eventually ended up at Oswego Speedway. Throughout his career he has had the opportunity to drive a variety of racecars including Supermodifieds, Busch North Series cars, Busch South Series cars, Modified Lites, his current Small Block Supermodified and more. Many of which are the creations of friend and relative, Ray Hedger.
According to Brown in 1995 Hedger began helping him when he was buying his first Bush North car and their racing partnership eventually led them to working together at Oswego Speedway. But their time with the Busch North and South series cars had the potential to lead them to one of the top series in racing. Just about every racecar driver has aspirations to reach the highest level of racing and Brown was no different.
With a heavy right foot and dreams of making it to NASCAR, Brown had a chance to possibly make his dream a reality during a Busch North race at Watkins Glen International.
“At the Glen, Joe Gibbs was standing in our pits with five to go and we were second running the leader down and the brake line broke,” Brown said. “Who knows what would have happened if we would have won the race. The main goal was to run full-time, but as luck would have it, it didn’t work out.”
Despite his misfortune, Brown said he enjoyed running the series and had fun being able to race against guys like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and being able to qualify for the race at Watkins Glen International which saw more than 50 cars attempting to qualify. It was an opportunity that required him to sell his Supermodified to achieve.
Brown ran the Supermodified for a while and found success with them, but said that it took him about half a year to get adapted to the car. There were some rough learning curves transitioning to the Supers according to Brown, but was still able to put together a few successful runs. He was never able to secure a win in the series, but said that he believes he could have won races and championships in the cars if he had stayed. He also said he would not trade for the time he had with the Busch cars.
According to Brown, as he begins to whine down his career in racing he is at peace with everything he was able to accomplish and is now taking the time to enjoy his success, but still try and add to it occasionally.
“We’ve had a pretty good career,” Brown said. “Now I am just going to sit back and race once in a while, make sure all of the Hedger cars are running the way they are supposed to be running and just kind of sit back and relax for a while.”
Brown plans on running his Small Block Supermodified every now and then, mostly focusing on the bigger races, especially Classic Weekend. He said he might even go back to play in the dirt with the Modified Lites, due to their fun drivability and the strong competition. One thing that is for sure is don’t expect to see him make a comeback in the near future for another run at a championship.
“I’m sick of spending money and Ray is probably sick of spending money on them, so I think we’ll probably just do what we’re doing,” Brown said. “I don’t want to be committed to anything. My poor wife has had to put up with this since she’s known me and it is time to do something else on the weekends.”
As Brown begins to whine down his career some may remember him as one of their most aggressive competitors and others as the best teacher to their racing career. But when the time comes that he decides to hang up his helmet, Russ Brown will be remembered as one of the greatest Small Block Supermodified drivers to ever enter the Steel Palace.