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Offshore authority – Allan ‘Brownie’ Brown

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Everyone has a nickname and Allan Brown’s is Brownie, he is sweet like one too, but more suitable and fitting would be to place the word ‘buoyant’ in front of his alias, and place a snapshot of the non-submersible hero alongside the definition of the word.

Wondering why?

Because Brownie is offshore racing’s commander-in-chief and the face behind decades of navigating boats to soar higher than the Space Shuttle Enterprise, thus he has earned the distinction.

Since the early 1960’s he has demonstrated the ability to stay afloat or in the air (while inside or hanging-on to a chunk of the hull), II.

He is a hopeful and optimistic soul (even though he readily admits a case of beer and bikini clad beauties might have played a role at times)!

Today at age 85, he remains as involved and engaged in high performance powerboat doings, as he was when Don Aronow first took him under his wing.

From Brownie’s high seas “boat and body” hydro acrobatics to his even higher spirits, when it comes to game changers in the offshore world both in the professional racing arena and in the field of manufacturing and commerce, there is no name that resonates as profoundly as Indiana-born, Miami-bred, savvy water man – Brownie.

A handful of his multiple roles while enduring 17 action-packed years in every position imaginable on N.E.188th Street, a.k.a. Thunderboat Row, included: general manager of Donzi Marine, chief engineer at Magnum Marine, president and CEO of Cougar Marine, (the creator of powerboats winning 33 consecutive offshore races including 12 world and national championships).

Cougar Marine, Miami – 1983 Photo: Nigel Barrett

He was also the project engineer for Gentry Transatlantic on the 113-footer Gentry Eagle mega-yacht that held the transatlantic speed crossing record, and director of product development for Cigarette Racing Team and Stainless Marine.

The riveting biography of muscle boat mechanical misfortunes, innovative achievements and epic accolades held by this titan is longer than the dog-tired Mueller Dossier, and a hell of a lot more transparent, given that Brownie recently self-published a tell-all tale of non-fictional narratives.

Released last autumn, Tales from Thunderboat Row contains the low-down boating buffs have been longing for. Unlike the candid Gasoline Alley collectables Speed Kills and Blue Thunder which were in part truthful, yet on the other hand uncorroborated, Brownie’s is a collection of first-hand, throttles-forward maritime-recaps spanning everything from his mind-blowing Golden Age of offshore archives up to the current center console “clip-on outboards” phenomenon.

Tales from Thunderboat Row covers 54 priceless exposes from boat building, beer chuggin’ and woman chasing, to breaking body pieces and taking first place flags.

Brownie said:

He swears most of the tales are at least 95% true, and hopes no one was hurt in the other 5%.

World champion racer and confidant Rich Luhrs composed the unforgettable foreword naming Allan Brown, the unsinkable Master of Offshore and countless revered record-breaking sea-dogs who made cameos throughout the 234 pages include: Don Aronow, Sam Griffith, Dick Bertram, Jim Breuil, Jake Trotter, Harry Schoell, Sonny Levi, Odell Lewis, Bobby Moore, Sammy James, Elton Cary, Al Copeland, Bill Wishnick and Carl Kiekhaefer.

The riveting biography of muscle boat mechanical misfortunes, innovative achievements and epic accolades held by this titan is longer than the dog-tired Mueller Dossier, and a hell of a lot more transparent, given that Brownie recently self-published a tell-all tale of non-fictional narratives.

Released last year, Tales from Thunderboat Row contains the low-down boating buffs have been longing for.

Unlike the candid Gasoline Alley collectables Speed Kills and Blue Thunder which were in part truthful, yet on the other hand uncorroborated, Brownie’s is a collection of first-hand, throttles-forward maritime-recaps spanning everything from his mind-blowing Golden Age of offshore archives up to the current center console “clip-on outboards” phenomenon.

He revealed his affection (or maybe it was one of those lies he mentions) for early morning over-indulging on Popeye’s fried chicken while visiting the Louisiana corporate headquarters on official Cougar Marine business, hoping to ink a deal with Al Copeland on what would become one of the most legendary wave-crushers in the history of fast boats.

The morning meeting moved to Copeland’s Lake Ponchartrain residence and by dusk, manly-man beverages were introduced and more greasy finger lickin’ bird parts were consumed. All this merriment unsurprisingly generated hours of late night chatter which led up to a conversation about a buddy of Brownie’s who specializes in high-end hot tub installations… this evidently peaked Copeland’s interest.

Needless to say, Brownie returned to Thunderboat Alley with the contract for the first quad powered Cougar cat, and shortly thereafter Copeland and companions were basking in the bubbles in his very versatile new Jacuzzi.

Brownie treasured times spent with his offshore racing family, but also found time to start a real one. He recalled one memorable road trip back West to the farm when his wife Deanna, their sons and a boating friend literally took the bull by the horns during a unfortunate midnight run-in.

Out of nowhere his station wagon and trailer carrying his Formula 233 Challenger slammed into a herd of Black Angus cattle. In Indiana the bovines have the right of way. Brownie was not only responsible for his damages, but also the butchery bill.

Whether smashing the ribs of a bull, a raceboat buddy or his own, Brownie put you in the middle of his untamed escapades. Heck, I had the sensation I was bouncing around the cockpit navigating the Tongue of the Ocean (TOTO) (50 miles out from Nassau) on the Miami to Bahamas free-for-all, and it was me blasting past the Needles rock formation during the legendary bloodied-bolster, boat brawl otherwise called the Cowes-Torquay.

Tales from Thunderboat Row is a true collector’s item for fast-boat fanatics like myself, and I received my personal copy as a surprise thanks to a sweet and stealthy gesture from my inspiring, go-fast friend Marilyn DeMartini. When all three of our paths crossed at the Miss Geico Racing camp during the Cocoa Beach Offshore Grand Prix, Brownie and Marilyn physically handed me an autographed issue of the scriptural speedboat blockbuster.

The smile is still plastered across my face and it has become my proudest coffee table chronicle trumping John Crouse’s Searace which in fact, I still have not returned to the University of Miami since signing it out the old-fashioned way in 1994!

To order your own personal copy send a $100 check (shipping included) to Allan Brown, 1902 N. 23 Ave., Hollywood, FL 33020 USA, or visit www.talesfromthunderboatrow.com With less than 200 days till Christmas, is there a better present to give your ole’ Cigar-boat lovin’ chums?

Originally published on Riverdavesplace.com

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