With his stock car racing career on hold, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault has been busy serving as a driving consultant, and one of his proteges has Maine ties.
Even though he has been racing for just one year, 13-year-old Carson Brown has already racked up a bunch of wins in his Legends car, including the Young Lions division national championship dirt track race at the Brushcreek Motorsports Complex in Peebles, Ohio.
Legends cars are a 5/8-scale replica of 1930 and 1940s automobiles.
Brown also won two races over the road course in Las Vegas and he’s had two fifth-place finishes in the Young Lions national championship races over asphalt oval tracks in Virginia and North Carolina.
But Brown’s Maine connection runs deeper than just his mentor. Brown’s father, Brad, is from Athens and graduated from Madison High School. His mother, Andrea Brown (nee Rybeck) grew up in Minot and went to Auburn’s Edward Little High School. Her parents are race fans and attend races at Oxford Plains Speedway in nearby Oxford.
Theriault met Brad Brown during Speed Week at Daytona International Speedway a year ago.
“The Legends track is about an hour away,” said Theriault, who quickly bonded with Brad over their Maine connections and racing people they each knew.
“Any time you meet somebody like that from Maine or the Northeast, you have a certain bond, a camaraderie, a trust,” Theriault said.
They had dinner and Brown put his trust in Theriault to help map out his son’s racing career.
“We hit it off real well. He saw the potential in Carson,” said Brad Brown, who lives with his family in Virginia. “Austin has a phenomenal reputation as a driver and developer of drivers. And this industry is pretty hard to navigate. I have never been in a race car.”
Theriault has run five NASCAR Cup series races, six in the Xfinity series, 13 Truck series events and 22 Menard’s ARCA series races.
Theriault won the 2017 ARCA championship points title thanks to seven wins and 16 top-five finishes in 20 races for Ken Schrader’s race team.
Theriault helped hook the Browns up with Joe Ryan Racecars, a Legends car team in Mooresville, North Carolina, and four-time NASCAR Trucks series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., who now builds race cars and also mentors drivers.
Brown is also being mentored by Joey Coulter from DriveRefine.
Theriault currently lives in Mooresville and said he and Brown have a lot in common.
Both are late bloomers who didn’t start racing until they were 12-13 years old.
Brad Brown said that a lot of drivers begin in go-karts at ages 5-6.
“Carson has an analytical mind and they said the same thing about me. He processes things the same way I do,” Theriault said.
Brown, like Theriault, also likes to work on cars and spends a number of weeks at the Joe Ryan Racecars shop with the mechanics.
He is being homeschooled so he can race and be involved with the race team as much as possible.
Theriault sees unlimited potential in Brown and feels he has a legitimate chance to drive at the highest levels of NASCAR.
“He is a very good driver. He is smart and he is very mature for his age,” Theriault said.
Theriault attends a lot of Brown’s races and is very involved in his pre-race preparation as well as post-race breakdown and analysis.
They spend a lot of time watching video and studying his driving techniques and the nuances of every track.
“I am very lucky to have him,” said Carson Brown. “He has been very helpful. He has had a pretty big influence on me.”
“Carson has always been a very patient driver. Austin said he had always been a patient driver but you have to learn to be aggressive and when to be aggressive,” said Brad Brown. “He is helping Carson become more aggressive.”
Theriault, who is also a paid consultant for 20-year-old Howie DiSavino III in the Trucks and Menards ARCA series, hasn’t raced in the NASCAR series since the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Speedway on Oct. 14, 2019.
He hasn’t ruled out a return to racing but he is enjoying working with young drivers and trying to help them realize their dreams.
Brad Brown said he and his son have a good-natured goal in sight down the road.
“We want to break Austin’s record (7 wins) in the ARCA Series,” Brad Brown said.