Lawyer Legends Racer Refuses To Grow Up
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Virgil Brown of Concord spends his days in the courtroom, defending cases and winning trials. He spends his evenings working on the two Legends cars he runs each Thursday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It¿s the time in between when you have to keep your eye on him.
¿In 1963 they caught me crawling over that fence right over there,¿ Brown said, pointing. ¿I wanted to be in here and be a part of things. Carl Tyler of Hollywood, Fla., put me on his team and he and a man named Steve Gregh let me help them out.¿
While the track was built in 1959 and 1960, the fence in question was installed as part of the track reconfiguration in 1997. When confronted with this, Brown laughed and shrugged his shoulders.
¿You have to admit it was a good try,¿ he said. ¿It¿s been a long time, maybe it was that fence over there.¿
Apparently telling tall tales is nothing new for the driver.
¿He wasn¿t anywhere near Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1963,¿ said Brown¿s wife Sallie. No one ever knows when to believe him. The general rule is that if he¿s talking, it¿s probably a lie, unless he¿s in the courtroom.¿
The real story behind Brown¿s interest in racing wasn¿t nearly as interesting, he insisted.
¿I came out of the Navy in 1967 and started dirt track racing,¿ Brown said. ¿It was a different perspective for me. My priorities changed when I got into school and started my family, so I didn¿t race as much, but now I¿m really getting back into it.¿
Brown¿s fierce competitive spirit first drove him to want to race and then led him to law school where he learned a profession that helps him afford his track toys.
¿Both racing and law are based on the advisory system,¿ Brown said. ¿You go out and want to win in both cases, and I¿m a pretty competitive guy. So far I¿ve won a lot more in the courtroom than on the track, but I¿m hoping that¿s going to change.¿
While he may still be more successful in front of the judge than under the flag stand, that doesn¿t mean his will to win keeps him from having fun on track.
¿Both of them are a race, but I think I enjoy racing on the track more than being in the courtroom,¿ Brown said. ¿There¿s not nearly as much paperwork. I like to have a lot of fun, and racing just plays into that. There¿s no reason you ever have to grow up, and so I just decided not to.¿
Brown talks the talk and walks the walk. He¿s goofy and fun loving, with a sense of humor that makes it hard to believe he¿s ever serious with the judges he faces or the clients he represents. And he feeds off fooling people. The most outlandish of Brown¿s stories, however, turns out to be true.
¿We¿re building a slide from the second story of our house to the first,¿ Brown said. ¿I guess it¿s an insurance risk, but I¿m a lawyer, right?¿
Surprisingly, Sallie backed up this story.
¿Our house in Concord burned a few years ago, and we¿re going all-out to build what we want now,¿ Sallie said. ¿Our grandkids wanted a slide, so we¿re going to give them one. It¿s our job to spoil them, and so that¿s what we plan to do.¿
The grandchildren - Georgie (8), Maddie (5), Gabby (4) and Ashton (2) - will no doubt have the playhouse every neighborhood child is jealous of. Sallie said several people have already stopped by the house, curious about the two-story slide.
¿Our three kids relied on Virgil for entertainment,¿ Sallie said. ¿We¿re going to make sure the grandkids aren¿t forced to suffer through that.¿