He sits on the front wheel of his Z-24 Cavalier, adjusting the valves on his engine, as he had done so many times a decade ago. He still has that same intensity although the conditions around him have drastically changed. Lorenzo Brooks, generally called “Killer” by those who know him, is intent on making the right moves. A bead of sweat rolls down his forehead under the humid conditions canvassing Milan Dragway on the first day of qualifying.
Brooks will admit that he always tried to take the proper avenue when it came to making his car run the quickest and fastest possible. When it comes to life, that’s another story. He recollects briefly and shakes his head at what could have been. Then again, he knows no one is to blame but himself.
Still, he works intently preparing for the second round of Top Sportsman qualifying during the IHRA Motor City Nationals.
“I’ve got to make the program. I’ve come too far to fall short,” Brooks says. “There has been a lot of hard work to get me here. I have something to prove to a lot of people and I still have a few fans that believe in me. That’s important. I can’t let them down.”
Brooks even has a new sponsor – Source Water Company. He knows that marketing partners are crucial to the success of his program
a d v e r t i s e m e n t
Brooks has to do better on his next run, because his first attempt was botched by a staging malfunction that led to his rolling through the lights and a bit of subsequent tire shake.
Brooks reflects and knows that it used to be so much easier “back in the day.” What he is finding, though, is that 2005 is a new day. He has a lot of catching up to do. Losing more than twelve years of your life behind bars tends to make a man fall behind on things.
“I thought the quick money was the best way to keep up,” Brooks says. “It never lasts. I had done it for a while and then one day someone came into my life and he was wired. The Feds had caught up with me.”
Brooks was found guilty of distributing crack cocaine, a charge which generally brings a harsher sentence than dealing the powder form because of its tendency to be highly addictive. He received 12 and a half years for peddling 38 grams of the drug.
Brooks fought the charges but to no avail. As hard as he resisted, Brooks couldn’t help but feel it all slip away. He tried to justify his actions, but deep inside Brooks knew he erred. A quick and fast source of income tends to bring forth justification. This was his link to life in the fast lane.
Brooks says he understands what he did was a crime but just doesn’t
feel the punishment fit when compared to others.
“If you go and steal an apple tree from a man’s yard you’ll get a year, but if you steal an apple you get twenty,” Brooks says. “Without powder cocaine, you can’t make crack. But that’s neither here nor there.”
Brooks points out that he’s not bitter.
“At first when I got locked up I was angry,” Brooks says. “I was taken away from my family and my loved ones. Time heals all wounds. I came to the reality that I made this bed and I had to sleep in it. If I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t have had to do time.”
Racing was the farthest thing from Brooks’ mind the day he was locked up. That day made him look closer at the more important things.
“My mother was an older lady at the time,” Brooks reflects. “She’s gone today…God bless her soul. I was more concerned as to whether she’d still be alive when I got out. Racing was on my mind but it got put on stand-by quickly. I knew I wanted to come back but it just didn’t rank up there.
“I had to look at a different way of living because they certainly don’t race cars in prison. I still thought about racing and of course I had a few people on the inside that had heard of our team. I tried to not talk about it. I knew that once I got out I was going racing again.”
Brooks had a outstanding career in the making as the new Pro Modified
division in 1990 was making a splash in the media and had become a hit
with diehard racing fans. It represented an over-the-edge style of doorslammers
with nitrous-injected engines and superchargers.
Brooks was all about showmanship in those days. His ex-Mark Clark Pro Stocker quickly became a hit with drag racing fans. Whether it was his impressive six-second runs or the animated interview following the near-miss crash with Eddie Harris and his Boss Sauce-sponsored Pontiac in Norwalk, Ohio, he quickly became the talk of the class alongside of other such notable drivers.
Showmanship was the key element for Brooks who regularly commissioned a crewman to hold up a sign as he performed the burnout. The sign read, “It’s Killer Time.” His car also featured the moniker of a popular movie of the era – Predator.
Little did Brooks realize that federal agents were also watching his exploits behind the wheel. The investigation came to a fevered pitch following his first national event victory during the IHRA’s 1992 visit into Cayuga, Ontario. His achievement marked the first time an African-American had won a national event in the class.
Brooks will be the first to admit that he didn’t adjust to incarceration well. He did his time in several deferent locations admitting this was due in part from the failure to get along in some and to good behavior in others. Brooks, as much as he says he hates to admit it, drew the ire of officials when it became apparent he was breaking out and breaking back in during a stay at a facility close to his home.
“I couldn’t deal with the homosexuality in prison,” Brooks says. “God made woman for man and vice versa. I did the best thing I could by breaking out and going home to see my woman and my children. I would break back in.”
Brooks says hiscovert action went on for a few months before someone alerted the authorities of his actions. He was quickly relocated to a facility in Kentucky where he finished his sentence. Brooks pointed out that his life had come to a crossroads after eight years away.
Brooks says the time enabled him to build a new game plan in life. He has remodeled the house his mother willed to him. That was one of the first projects he had planned upon his release.
Brooks also took part in many drug rehabilitation projects even though he was a dealer and not a user.
“I saw firsthand how my actions affected others,” Brooks says. “I guess I never realized it before. Now I am trying to send a message that this stuff will mess you up bad, whether you’re an adult or kid. It’s just bad.
“I want to do more as soon as I get my life in better order. I have spoken to some schools. No offense to Michael Jordan or the other athletes, but I encourage the kids to make their parents their role models. I tell my children that I have done good and bad. I can tell them what it’s like to be on the inside and why they don’t want to go there. Prison is not a place you want to go.”
Brooks now runs an auto mechanic business in Youngstown, Ohio, that specializes in female clientele. As he puts it, many dealerships will take advantage of them. His objective is to build a business that looks out for their best interests and gains their confidence. His shop was also something he moved into following his release. Brooks ran a shop prior, but that was lost to arson while he was away.
“I’d like to think I’m a wiser person now,” Brooks admits. “I’ve even taken up a few hobbies, such as drawing portraits. I’ve even started doing some carpentry work.
“I’ve become a mellower person. Patience is a virtue when you’re in prison. No matter how fast you want something you have to wait.”
The one thing that Brooks has discovered is that patience can be a quality alternative to a life in the fast lane. Brooks went to prison age 37 and at 49 has a new outlook.
“When I wait for things to develop and I’m patient they come to me,” Brooks says. “It’s not like the old days when I wanted things and wanted them at that moment. I used to rush to get them no matter what it took. I’m not like that anymore.
“I’ve missed a lot of life, but you have to look at that as time lost. I can never get it back. I’m just glad to be home.”
One can’t help but wonder what the future holds for Brooks. However, Brooks doesn’t.
“I take it one day at a time,” Brooks says. “Tomorrow is never promised.”
Brooks wouldn’t even speculate on a potential return to Pro Modified.
His immediate focus is on adjusting the valves and the fact he’s
unqualified with rain on the horizon. Anything else will be addressed
in Killer’s time.
© Competitionplus 2005