Editors Note: This weekend, Hooniverse will be running a series of posts introducing you to some of the new writers who are now in our part of the Hooniverse. This time it’s Bradley Brownell who is our own Hooniverse Motorsports Editor. Let Bradley know how much you appreciate his writing here.
The life of an extremely enthusiastic automobile enthusiast can sometimes be difficult. Actors often complain of being typecast, and I think I can relate. I am no longer Bradley C. Brownell, the kid from the sticks that listens to weird music, plays nerdy video games, and tries unsuccessfully to play sports. I am now simply “Car Guy Brad”. Since I became interested in automobiles, it has consumed me like a flame, and become the single largest facet of my life.
Growing up in rural Michigan, I learned quickly the virtues of front mounted V8s powering the rear wheels, primarily extolled by those rockin’ a “Wisconsin Waterfall” haircut and a chaw of Skoal. I was the “normal” car enthusiast in that I was passively interested in what was happening, and lived my life as most do. I was about to experience three life changing moments, and I was none the wiser.
The first of those three moments happened when I was a Junior in High School. I was convinced by my teachers that I should study abroad for a semester. It took every penny I had saved up to that point and then some to pull it off, but with the help of my parents, I made it happen, and I left for Murcia, Spain the following September. While living in Spain on a foreign exchange program as a high school senior, my eyes were opened to the wider world of automotive existence. Things as foreign to me as all-wheel-drive, turbochargers, and using the word liter to describe the size of your engine without the number “5” in front were quickly soaked in. I learned about Cosworth, someone named Ickx, WRC, and a place called Le Mans. I was in the accelerated learning class, and motorsport was my teacher.
The second experience that helped shape my future came after my return home from overseas. One day, while waltzing through the disorganized magazine rack at my local Barnes and Noble, I noticed a car magazine that I had not seen before. Though it may seem hyperbolic, I can say that the August 2005 issue of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine, quite literally, changed my life. Shortly after reading that issue, I logged on to its namesake website and became a member of the forum, to which I still regularly post. Members of the forum encouraged me to attend my first Rallycross.
They often say that in order to be successful, it’s not about what you know, but who you know. While I see the validity of that, if you don’t know the what, you won’t meet the who. Through college, I became heavily involved in the Detroit Region SCCA, first gravitating toward Rallycross, but later crossing over to the dark side of Solo where grip is king and a missed gate is a DNF. It was through my time involved in the SCCA that I was given the opportunity to intern for Rally America during the peak of the Travis Pastrana and Ken Block show. I owe that experience to DRSCCA den-mother Mary Shiloff. It was an amazing time for someone like me, and I will always remember the experience.
I consider myself an automotive enthusiast of the first degree, however, forced to choose a secondary category, I would quickly slot myself into the writer position. As is so often said, I may not enjoy writing, but I very much enjoy having written. The satisfaction of seeing the culmination of your pen put to paper is always gratifying. “They” always say that you should write what you know, and if there is one thing I know, it is cars.
I went to Western Michigan University to study advertising and promotion under some of the greatest people in the world. Unfortunately, I graduated at the peak of the recession, and could not secure related employment. As such, I took my meager savings from delivering Chinese food around campus and took off for Atlanta, GA to live in my Dad’s basement. I packed everything I owned into a broke ass Ford Aspire with no 4th gear and no back window and headed south.
In Atlanta, I earned a position at a well known, but less than reputable Porsche specialty shop. I absolutely despised the position, but I buried myself in the subject and excelled at it. Parts sales did not come easy to me, and the work environment was toxic, but I had bills to pay. For two years I took every opportunity to learn as much about Porsche as I could.
The third life changer was my entry into the automotive writing sphere. With my advertising copywriting background I began writing PR pieces for the company on my own time, which transitioned to my venturing into writing magazine articles. Remember what I said about knowing people getting you a leg up? Well, one of my co-workers at the time introduced me to a crazy guy named Kamil Kaluski who was running a little blog called CarGuyDad. I began contributing to the site shortly thereafter, and when CGD became part of the Hoon network, I came with it. (Heavy baggage, I know…) Shortly after the mergers and acquisitions were concluded, I was hired at a new company as the manager of the Porsche branch of parts sales. I guess all of that studying pays off. I’m extremely happy with my new job, and I am ecstatic to be back north of the Mason-Dixon in quiet and cozy Medina, OH. My girlfriend is gradually getting re-acclimated to the snow, and my Basset hound who had previously never seen snow enjoys the occasional hand-brake induced parking lot hoon almost as much as I do. I think I’ll stay here a while.
So, now you know my story. I don’t have an agenda, I don’t have an Awesomeness Manifesto, and I don’t pretend to be more than I am. What I am is a genuinely enthusiastic car guy that likes to write. I hope you all like to read it!