In most forms of motorsports, once the race reaches the halfway point, it is considered an official race. At that point, if Mother Nature decides to intervene, the race is official and goes down as a completed event.
Life is like that as well. Sometimes the race of life is cut short. That's the case with former Omahan and champion racer Paul Brown. His life ended at the age of 43, somewhere around the halfway point. What he accomplished in those 43 years will be celebrated and honored this weekend in the Paul Brown Memorial Rally.
On Saturday, the rally will start at Speedway Motors in Lincoln and proceed to Mid America Motorplex south of Council Bluffs and then on to Carroll, Iowa, and Wellendorf Performance, where participants will continue to celebrate Brown's life.
All proceeds go to the Southeast Nebraska Cancer Foundation and the Missouri Valley Cancer Consortium. More information on the rally can be found at www.paulbrownmemorialrally.com.
Two years ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Brown by phone as he was driving from Indianapolis to his next challenge. He had just won his fifth road race championship — the SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge GTS Championship. The enthusiasm in the interview told me Brown had a zest for life. He seemed to be looking for the next mountain to climb.
Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. He died in October 2012. But during his life, he lived it to the fullest.
“He was so humble,” said his uncle, Jim Holstein. “He would never bring up his accomplishments. You had to pry it out of him.”
Born in Denison, Iowa, Brown grew up in Omaha and hung out around his dad Kenny's Speed Shop on Blondo Street before going off on his own.
Tracy Wellendorf, an otolaryngologist in Carroll, Iowa, was Paul's car owner for the 2011 season when they won the Pirelli world challenge event.
“I met Paul at his dad's shop back around 1990,” Wellendorf said. “He became one of the family. He had so much drive, so much enthusiasm and he could do anything.”
The last weekend in June, the Nebraska Chapter of the Sports Car Club of America honored Brown with a weekend of SCCA racing in his memory.
Yes, Brown was a champion racer. And he lived his life like a champion.
NASCAR Nationwide Series at Iowa Speedway
Iowa Speedway CEO Doug Fritz was in town this week promoting the upcoming NASCAR Nationwide race at Iowa Speedway on Aug. 3.
One of his main points was that he thinks they may have a sellout.
I would hope they would.
Iowa Speedway is a very fan-friendly seven-eighths mile facility and a great place to watch a race. And it's close to Omaha, just east of Newton on Interstate 80.
Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Brad Keselowski will be in the field. As Keselowski said earlier, “I always enjoy getting a chance to go back to Iowa Speedway. My win there in 2009 ranks as one of the biggest of my career.”