Garvin Brown dies
George Garvin Brown III, a retired board member of Brown-Forman Corp. and great-grandson of the company’s founder died of cancer Monday in Milan, Italy, the company announced. He was 67.
A native of Louisville, Brown worked briefly at the family business before moving to Los Angeles to pursue interests in media and auto racing.
In racing circles, Brown, originally from Louisville, Ky., is best known as the force behind Garvin Brown Racing, a team that campaigned fellow Louisville native Danny Sullivan in his early professional career, specifically in the Can-Am glory days.
In 1980, Brown underwrote the development of the GB-1 Intrepid, a car and a season that AW publisher emeritus Leon Mandel chronicled in the book Fast Lane Summer. The book describes how in 1980, Brown--without a lot of fanfare--built a top-notch Can Am team in just three months.
"Every person on the team, in his own right, is the best in the business," Brown said. "It just took someone to bring them all together, and that's where I came in. For a three-month-old team, I still walk around in shock as to how fast we were able to put everything together."
In 1985, Sullivan won the Indy 500.
"I would not be standing where I am today were it not for Garvin," Sullivan said. "He was a great friend and a wonderful competitor. But mostly, he was a great friend."
It was in Summer where Mandel chronicled Brown's colorful personality.
"He disappoints everyone in sight of the limousine when he backs out of its door. He is neither handsome nor bizarre nor sizeable nor English tailored. He needs his haircut only once every other month and then just the sides. He generally affects the leisure clothing of a middle-management executive caught without his topsiders at a company picnic: sleeves turned back on a striped shirt unbuttoned almost to the belt, jeans no designer has ever seen, no socks. He makes all of this seem very fashionable, which suggests that Brown is correct in his self-estimation that he is a stylish man."
Brown is survived by his two sisters, sons Campbell Brown and George Garvin Brown IV, presiding chairman of the board of Brown-Forman, and four grandchildren.
Arrangements for a memorial service in Louisville were pending Monday.