Veteran NHRA Pro Stock racer Greg Anderson has built himself a storied racing career, complete with four NHRA Pro Stock championships and 90 victories over his 20 years of racing.
The 57-year-old is the current Pro Stock points leader in the 2018 NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing Series and is coming off a second-place finish last week at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol. As he reflects on where he stands currently in his highly successful career, he doesn’t see himself slowing down anytime soon.
“I guess if I want to sit back and look at how long I’ve been out here and my age, I would have to be towards the last part of my career,” Anderson said. “But I don’t feel that way. I feel like I just started yesterday. I still feel like I have a lot of wins and a lot of championships left in me. When that day comes that I can’t compete at the top level and I can’t win races and win championships, then I will step away. But I don’t think that’s close. I think I have a lot of time left.”
Despite being the current points leader, Anderson, driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, has yet to notch a victory this season. He will have a chance to do so this weekend at his sponsor’s race, the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals in Norwalk.
“It’s been a dry year as far as wins go,” Anderson said. “I guess I’m leading the points, which is the positive and that’s the good end of things. But our team is used to being able to win. And when we don’t win it’s frustrating. Here we are coming into our sponsor’s home race and their home track and it’s their 50th anniversary of being in business. So we have that badge on our car and we want to make it a special year for them. We are knocking on the door and hopefully this is the weekend we turn it all around.”
Anderson was introduced to racing at a young age when his father Rod would take him out to the race track. Since then, Greg has been hooked on the sport.
“This is kind of a cool sport where it seems like that first time you go and get involved, you are hooked for life,” Anderson said. “It gets in your blood and you don’t get it out. I can honestly say of all the years I’ve done it, it certainly hooked me at a young age. It’s something you have to experience. It’s a sensory sport. You have to be there in person to feel it and smell it and hear it.”
Anderson, who grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, started his racing career working for John Hagen. Hagen tragically died in an accident at the NHRA Northstar Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota in 1983.
“It definitely knocks you down and it was something I had never experienced before,” Anderson said. “And knock on wood, you don’t experience it a lot in this sport. But it does happen every once in a while. It did and we learned from it.”
Anderson said Hagen’s death “knocked me on the chin” and after that he took a break and worked for his father on his car lot. He did that for a few years, before another opportunity came along.
“I got a call from Warren Johnson to come back and do it full time,” Anderson said. “That was in 1987 and from 1987 on it’s been every day of my life.”
Johnson is an iconic pro stock racer with 97 career wins. His request to get Anderson behind the wheel of a car, spring-boarded Anderson’s racing career.
“He was very good at it and he is a very intelligent guy so I learned a lot about the car end of it,” Anderson said. “One day he came to myself and his son – we both worked on his cars – and said, ‘I want you both to learn how drive one of these cars. I want you to get inside of them and see what it’s like driving them. You guys seem to have all the answers about how easy this is. I want you inside the car and to see how different it is inside the car than outside the car’. That’s how the driving thing all started.”
Anderson will look for his fourth career win at the Summit Racing Equipment Nationals and hopes that will jump start his year.
“The goals we set at the beginning of the year were No. 1 to win the championship at the end of the year,” Anderson said. “We also are a team that loves to win races. We are not used to not winning races, so it’s been frustrating that way. Half the goal is still good. I’m still leading the points and I still have a great chance to win the championship. The secondary part of it, the winning races, we’ve come up short. We still have a lot of races left and a lot of races to win. It’s going to come.”
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