Football legends Tony Dorsett and Tim Brown were on hand Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway to serve as co-Grand Marshals for the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, but the duo actually enjoys a long history with NASCAR.
Brown was part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program in the early 2000s with a goal of starting a racing team to attract minorities to the sport, from employees to fans to sponsors. He was able to secure a technical alliance with Roush Fenway Racing and was making progress, but his dream of becoming a NASCAR team owner unfortunately never materialized.
“I retired (from the NFL) in 2005 and at my retirement speech, I made the announcement that I was going to be going into NASCAR to try to start a team,” Brown said. “We almost got it done. I was working with Roush Racing and it got close, but the financial crash of 2008 killed me so we stepped away.
“I’m very happy to see the guys in NASCAR now. The minorities who are involved with NASCAR is a little bit overdue but I’m glad to see these guys out here having a good time. Had a chance to meet Bubba (Wallace) today and glad to see him out here and making things happen.”
Dorsett said he had been to a few NASCAR races over the years but revealed that he had been a fan growing up in Aliquippa, Pa.
“I’ve been watching NASCAR racing for a long time,” Dorsett said. “Started back at my home in Pennsylvania when I was a little kid. I’ve been to a few races but it’s always good to be someone like us taking part in such an outstanding sport.”
Dorsett and Brown had the honor of giving the “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” command to the 39-driver NASCAR Cup Series field and get the opening Round of 8 NASCAR Playoff race underway. Click here to watch Dorsett and Brown give the command.
“Don’t get Tony started, I’m trying to get on his rhythm, and he’s changed it three times already today,” said Brown, laughing. “I heard there is going to be a cue card out there to get the words right. I thought I would have gotten the opportunity (to do the command) before, but I haven’t so this is going to be great.”
“I’m thrilled to be out at the track to say the words, ‘Gentlemen, start your engines!’” Dorsett said. “I’m looking forward to it. I had a chance to do it once before. It’s always good to have a couple of football players crossing over to NASCAR and be out here to support the drivers.”
In addition to sharing the command, Brown and Dorsett also are working together on a special project that is being produced by NFL Films. They are part of a group, known as H2H, of only 10 men in the history of college and pro football who have won a Heisman Trophy and been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame; an accomplishment so rare that more men have walked on the moon.
Dorsett won the Heisman Trophy in 1976 at the University of Pittsburgh, where the running back led the Panthers to a national championship. After a stellar NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, which included winning Super Bowl XII, the NFL’s 10th all-time leading rusher was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.
Brown earned his Heisman Trophy in 1987 at Notre Dame as a wide receiver and returner before embarking on an outstanding NFL career with the Los Angeles Raiders that included being named to the NFL’s All Decade Team of the 1990s. Brown, who ranks among the top 10 in NFL history in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
“The Perfect 10” tells the life story of Dorsett, Brown and the eight other men and the collective group’s rare accomplishment. “The Perfect 10” is planned to air next fall in conjunction with the start of the 2022 college and NFL seasons.
“In 2015 when I was literally on my way to my induction speech, a buddy of mine came up to me and said, ‘Do you know you’re only the ninth guy to be inducted (who won a Heisman)’ and I said there must be 30 guys to be inducted, not only nine,” Brown recalled. “Literally on the bus to the enshrinement I googled it and had to look it up. Google only had eight guys because I was the ninth. I was a little surprised by that so we got together afterwards and thought what an incredible legacy we left on the field, let’s see what we can do off the field.”
Click here for the full video of the Dorsett-Brown press conference to view or download that is available for use for all media outlets.
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