By Ethan Miller ‘23
On October 2nd, 2021, Brandon Brown had the best day of his life. The 28-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series driver won for the first time in his career at Talladega Superspeedway. But despite the monumental occasion, few remember it for that reason. Why? Simple. “Let’s go Brandon.” Following his win, Brown was interviewed on the frontstretch by an NBC reporter. The reporter, Kelli Stavast misheard the crowd’s chants of “F— Joe Biden” for “Let’s go Brandon” and said as such on the broadcast. Since then, “Let’s go Brandon” has taken off in the past few weeks and can be regularly heard at major sporting events. Regardless of your political views or opinions about this chant, it can be agreed that it has caused Brown to be looked past when he should have received recognition for his accomplishment.
So who is Brandon Brown?
Brown, born in 1993 in Woodbridge, Virginia, began racing at the age of 10, competing in local go-kart races. He quickly progressed through the ranks, winning championships in various racing divisions. In 2014, he jumped to NASCAR, debuting in the Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway for his own team, Brandonbilt Motorsports, and would go on to make 2 more starts that year. Over the next 4 years, he grew his team and skills, running part time in both the Truck and Xfinity series, with improving results each year. See, Brown didn’t come from money, or a famous family. Where he’s at in his career right now was built entirely by his doing- growing funds, convincing companies to sponsor him, and hard work.
All this led to him jumping up the Xfinity Series full time in 2019, where he immediately was competitive. By the end of the year, Brown had climbed to 15th in the standings, and he added his first career Xfinity top 10 at Daytona. In 2020, he was even better, tallying 6 top 10s, 1 top 5, and most importantly, a playoff berth in the 12 driver Xfinity Series playoffs, where he finished the season in 11th. In just 2 years, Brandon achieved everything except one – a win.
In 2021, Brown missed out on the playoffs, but entering the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway, he had collected career highs in top 5s and top 10s already. Brown kept the car clean for the entire race, and took the lead late in the race right before the caution flag flew. As darkness fell, NASCAR called the race due to the track not having lights, giving Brown his first career win, which led to his fateful interview post race.
Unfortunately, some companies have been unable to separate the chants from the underdog driver, as the Associated Press has reported that sponsorship for the no. 68 Chevy has faltered since the birth of the chant. It’s a shame, really, that a rising talent could have his career derailed due to politics – and a reminder that we need to look at the person, and not the circumstances.