Greg Pollex brings a different perspective to owning a racing team, because he has buckled himself into the seat, strapped on the helmet, and earned his stripes on the dirt tracks - long before he was in a position financially to have his name on the front door.
BROOKLYN, Mich. - Greg Pollex brings a different perspective to owning a racing team, because he has buckled himself into the seat, strapped on the helmet, and earned his stripes on the dirt tracks - long before he was in a position financially to have his name on the front door.
Pollex, a Toledo native who spent his first eight years in the Miracle Mile area, is the co-owner of ppc Racing. For a number of years he has fielded very successful teams in the NASCAR Busch Series, and this year Pollex has the Power Stroke Diesel Craftsman Truck Series team of Sylvania native Terry Cook in his stable.
Pollex, who moved with his family to Cheboygan, Mich., ran late models at Northern Michigan Raceway when he was in his twenties, with his father as his chief mechanic. After a career in the insurance field, Pollex works today putting together financial settlements in large medical malpractice insurance cases, and running racing teams.
He originally contacted NASCAR more than 10 years ago, intending to speak with team owners about putting together an insurance program that would reduce their tremendous liability costs. Pollex met Chad Little, a driver with a law degree, and before long Little was driving for a team owned by Pollex.
"As it turned out, Chad was a better salesman than I was, and he talked me into getting into the racing business," Pollex said. Little brought in a college friend, NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, who had just won the Super Bowl, and together they put together a Busch team.
With Little at the wheel, the team was third in the points race in 1994, and won six races in 1995 to finish second in the points. After struggling in 1996 with a different sponsor and manufacturer, that team was sold in 1997, but Pollex did not stay away from racing for long.
He bought another Busch team in 1998, and then went to a two-car program the following year. With Jason Keller and Jeff Green driving under his Progressive Motorsports banner, the Pollex-owned team won the championship by the largest margin in Busch Series history in 2000 with Green, while Keller was second.
They were they only team to finish 1-2 in Busch history, and the following year they were second and third behind champion Kevin Harvick. This season Keller is running the Miller High Life car in the Busch Series for ppc Racing, and Cook came aboard on the trucks side.
"Terry is really the architect of this thing," Pollex said. "He came to us and said he knew ppc builds good equipment. We liked him and it was a good fit."
Cook said he had been impressed by the way ppc Racing had stayed with the same philosophy over the years, no matter what changes in personnel took place.
"Greg has been very successful for a long time, and the common denominator is that his team has always done things the right way," Cook said. "The philosophy is the same. If you do it the right way, you're going to run up front."
Cook said the experience Pollex has as a driver gives him a better overall perspective on what it takes to field a winning team, and Pollex admits he is having a lot of fun at it.
"Having had a few years to drive brought excitement to me in the sport, and Chad, he rekindled that ember in me that had been burning for years and years," Pollex said. "I have been able to enjoy the sport, and the competition, but the whole thing is, if you can't run up front and win races, this is not fun. You've got to enjoy yourself in this sport, and the only way you can is to spend the money and run up front."
Pollex said his only regret is that his father did not live long enough to be a part of the racing team.
As a heating and air conditioning technician with a knack for sheet metal work, he would have had a prominent place in the race shop.
"My dad, he could make anything, and he would have loved all of the fabrication work we do, building our own cars and trucks and all," Pollex said. "He would have been in seventh heaven being around all of this."
- Matt Markey