IN THE BEGINNING~
In the late 60’s, I remember my Dad taking me out to an area called “Lookinglass”, just outside of Roseburg where we lived at the time. It was late in the evening and we were in our “Family Grocery Getter”- it just happened to be a “kick butt” ’67 GTO. We’d stopped to uncap the Headers just before getting there and we’d come to the customary place in the road where the racing began- a long stretch of straight road way out in the country. I remember being in my Pajamas, all of approximately 7 years old at the time, standing on the rear floorboard, hanging onto the Front Bucket Seats as my Dad came to a stop at the “starting line”, the 389 Big Block Motor rumbling through the floor boards, breathing freely through the Cool Air Intake with the working Air Scoop Dad had made out of the Factory “fake” Intake on the Hood and then Exhausting freely through uncapped Headers. Ahead was a straight stretch of Lookinglass road- covered in black rubber from many previous “launches” from my Dad, his brother (my Uncle) Tim from his 64 GTO, as well as all their buddies with their various muscle cars- all only a few years old at the time. (Oh, to have access to ANY of those Muscle Cars NOW!!! OMG!!!!!) I’ll never forget- My Dad turning to me and saying- “Hold on, Gregg!” I grabbed a hold of the seats as tight as my 7 year old hands could grasp and my Dad launched the ole’ Goat and away we went as he banged through the gears- speed shifting- a term I only came to understand later in life.
I think it was these early days that my interest in Horse Power – and more importantly- Torque- was rooted. My Dad’s interest grew too, as his “match” racing bug grew to the point where he talked my Mom into them buying a Dragster!! We were the coolest family on our block!!! We had a DRAGSTER!!
GOIN’ DRAG RACING!~
Dad & Mom bought a pretty haggard front engine car- (they were ALL font engine in those days!!!) with a puky Gold paint scheme on the cowl. It had an odd engine combo- a Buick Straight 8 with 4 Rochester 2 Barrels! My Dad was pretty famous for taking things that weren’t SUPPOSED to run and making them run REAL well. So, the transformation began. I also think he owned stock in Armor All, as we sure used a ton of it! EVERYTHING was covered in Armor All- and was, therefore- very SLICK! But everything we had looked GOOOOOD!! So, regarding the newly purchased Dragster- between having the Mag Wheels polished- (real Magnesium Wheels- GAWD to have THOSE today- OMG!!) and redoing the entire car, including lots of chrome- then that puky Gold paint gave way to a GORGEOUS Blue-Lace Paint Scheme. A Vertex Mag, a Chrome Valve Cover, (about 10 feet long), a chrome steering arm and an open trailer to tow this BAD Hot Rod behind- what else- our ’67 GTO, which ALSO served as a Push Car for starting duties. We looked GOOOOOD Parked in front of Denny’s!! In hind-sight, However, I kinda’ think this was the beginning of the end for my parents marriage as my Mom was tasked with the VERY difficult duties of Push Starting the Dragster with a Push Bar Dad had mounted to the front of the GTO. NO easy task with a stiff clutch and a 4 Speed, to be sure.
The Dragster ended up running in NHRA’s E Dragster class and ran VERY well, running .06 under the National Record. We ran at Eugene’s now defunct Balboa Dragstrip. By the next year, NHRA eliminated the E Dragster class owing to a lack of participation and the car Dad had worked SO hard on now had no place to compete and became little more than a darn cool showpiece. It was towed from home to home for a decade until it was sold in the late ‘70’s to a guy we knew in Eugene. I do believe that being involved with a real Dragster early in life had a deep impact on my future, as I was now spoiled for a “normal” ride. As an aside, Dad and I made an effort to locate the car at one point about 10 years ago with no success.
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR RACING!~
Fast forward to ’92. I’d just purchased CBM and I was visiting a copier customer of ours- Parker’s Auto Electric- when I happened to notice they had a gorgeous blue Top Alcohol Funny Car in the back of their shop. Now, I’d been pretty much out of the sport for a very long time, but the passion had never really gone anywhere- it was just looking for an outlet. I begged the Parker clan for an opportunity, telling them I’d clean anything, do anything, to be involved with their program. They must have felt sorry for me, as they let me help! I learned a TON from Wayne, Russ & Randy over the next few years about how a real race car is properly prepared and I had the opportunity to race up and down the West Coast as they grew in the sport, gaining sponsorship from the Dairy Farmers of Oregon and winning a National Event at Seattle in the late ‘90’s.
MY CHANCE TO DRIVE! A TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER LICENSE!~
In ’96, I had an opportunity to partner with Russ Parker. I had struck a deal with Dave Henderson to acquire the roller Top Alcohol Dragster that Blaine & Alan Johnson had won the World Championship with in ’89. Russ brought a spare Motor from their Funny Car operation and ‘Viola’! we had a TAD operation!!!! In hindsight, it was pretty pathetic, but, Russ helped guide me to making the needed 6 laps in ONE WEEKEND and I then had my TAD License!! I’d never driven anything much quicker than my Dually prior, although I had made a pass in an 11 second car of an employee once, but I’m not sure that made much difference in terms of my Driving skills at that time. I just know it wasn’t too smart to jump straight into the Blown Alcohol Dragster, but I’ve never been accused of doing things the smart way!! I went 6.19 ET @ 219 MPH to complete my licensing process!! I remember being scared to death along the way that weekend! There are MANY Stories from that weekend!! I’ll share more later….
FROM LONG CAR TO SHORT CAR- NOW IT’S TIME TO LEARN HOW TO DRIVE!!~
In ’97, Dave Henderson had built a Pro Mod and he asked me to drive it for him. Too many stories to tell- I’ll save them for another day- but I can say that I learned how to actually drive a Race Car in the Pro Mod- that Car NEVER went straight, in fact, it went anywhere BUT straight! BUT, I NEVER crossed the Centerline and I NEVER hit the Wall, BUT- it wasn’t for a lack of effort!! OMG!! I can tell you that Jim Livingston (Track Owner, Woodburn Dragstrip) HATED that car!!! It really scared him. That’s okay, it made me want to throw up every time I got in it to drive too!!! Pretty sure Robbie didn’t care much for it either. I think it was possessed by Satan now in hindsight!! J The Headers were used as “Outriggers”, keeping the Car from tipping over, as the Car would weave all over the race track to get to the Finish Line- Back End trying feverishly to pass the Front End every time. THIS taught me to drive and little did I know this would prove to be such a valuable training ground for my future, where the rate of Acceleration was going to go up. WAY UP!!
GOING NITRO RACING, BABY!!!! A/Fuel or Bust!!~
I’d campaigned the Pro Mod through the ’99 Season, crashing it once, (another story for another day!!!), but we’d been watching with great fascination, this type of Car that was gaining in popularity called “A/Fuel”. Some buddies of mine worked QUITE hard to convince me that the actual costs to run an A/Fuel car were quite similar to the money I was already spending to run the Pro Mod. AND, they would remind me- (as if I needed to be reminded!!!!)- we’d get to go WAY, WAY, WAY faster!!!! So, if we could go WAY faster for the same money, they supposed, (always spending my money, mind you!!!! J ), then why would we NOT upgrade?!!!! Seemed like a simple question!!
It was the World Finals in ’99. We were in Pomona with Parkers on the Got Milk? Dairy Farmers of Oregon Top Alcohol Funny Car. I was privileged to be working on the Car at that outing. I’d heard through the
“grape vine” that a VERY competitive A/Fuel Car was up for sale right after this race. It was the Car that Melanie Troxel drove, sponsored by In-N-Out Burger and owned by Darien & Meadows. Ironically, I’d met Jerry Darien back in ’96 in Dallas, as we sat and talked for hours about me buying an Alcohol Motor from him for my Alcohol Dragster (the Car I Licensed in). Although that didn’t work out, I at least knew who Jerry was. So, my “buddies” and I sat in the Grandstands and watched the Alcohol Dragster Class (containing the A/Fuel Cars) run, as these “buddies” worked to continue the sales process of convincing me that I should own one of those A/Fuel Bad Boys!! I caved to the pressure and went to talk with Jerry. A $10,000.00 deposit later, and the rest as they say, is history.
FAST FORWARD TO TODAY~
Still LOTS to tell about how we got here and I’ll tell more stories in the days to come. But for now, I ended up with the A/Fuel Car in 2000, so this year, 2011 is my 11th year campaigning the A/Fuel Car. My career best ET is 5.34 at 266.64 MPH, but that was back on 100%. Now, with NHRA having taken the Nitro percentage down over the years, little by little, we are now down to 94%. Although it doesn’t sound like much- it’s a HUGE amount of Horse Power that we’ve lost!! We spend a ton of money trying to get it back- all in search of the illusive Cylinder Pressure. With the Hard Work and dedication of my faithful Crew and my always-believing-in-me-Bride Robbie, we’re now getting our Hot Rod back, close to the performance levels we used to have on 100%, but now we’re doing it with 94%! I also owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to Jerry Darien, my friend and my mentor who has helped me sort this program out and without whom we would NOT be seeing the performance AND reliability gains we have.
At a recent night race at Woodburn, we came OUT OF THE BOX (trailer) and went 5.44 ET at 259 MPH- VERY close to breaking back into the “Magical” 5.30’s again. We need to be in the 5.30’s to be competitive- and we can taste it- we are SO close! On our NEXT lap- please see the Night Run video- the Car SMOKED the Tires at the Step!!! DOH (as Homer Simpson says) and after letting the Car settle down, I stepped back down on the “Loud” Peddle, but by then, I’m 50’, 60’, or 70’ down track and the Car STILL ran 262 MPH!!!! OMG!! Only 4 MPH shy of my Career BEST- and with less than the whole Race Track to do it in!!!!!
Good things are to come and we appreciate your interest in our program!! Keep checking back for more videos, stories and pics! We deeply appreciate you!!!- our Fans, Friends and Family- frankly, they all kinda’ blend together!!
Huggs, to you all- (and yes, I know that had 2 gg’s in it!! It’s kinda’ my deal- the “double gg” thing, that is!!!)
Crew Dudes That Make the Nitro Magic Happen at Gregg Racing, Inc.~
- Stan Wise- Bottom End & Race Prep
- Jake Vaage- Clutch
- Dave Dixon- Clutch
- LouLaBelle (Shelly)- Data Entry Specialist (This car generates a HUGE amount of data to track!!)
- Mom- Chef (Thanks MOM!!!)
- Robbie- My Bride, My Lover, My BFF, Parachutes, Parts Washer, Fuel & Warm-Ups in the Car.
- Maggs- Maggie Mae- Our Newest Dalmatian Puppy (We recently lost Nitro Dog after almost 15 Years of having her in our family. We miss her every day!!!)