Anderson Heads to Brainerd Thinking of Minnesota Mentors
Mooresville, N.C., August 16, 2011 – In every type of sport, competitors will often credit the influence of a mentor for their success, pointing to the example they set or guidance they offered. For Summit Racing Pro Stock racer and Minnesota native Greg Anderson this gratitude is primarily directed towards two men whose lessons helped mold him into the well-respected champion he is today. The first is his father Rod, a solid sportsman racer in the NHRA’s Division 5, who set the foundation by introducing him to the sport of drag racing at an early age, and to this day still attends as many events as possible to support his son’s effort, including this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd.
... winning Brainerd is even more special,
“Although I have numerous people to thank for getting me to this point in my career, I really owe it all to two people, starting with my father Rod,” said Anderson. “My Dad’s the one who got me started, introducing me to drag racing and giving me the love of the sport. He taught me to work on all sorts of cars and engines, so it definitely means a lot to race in front of him, and I look forward to his being with our Summit Racing team at the track this weekend in Brainerd – he hasn’t been able to make it to a race yet this year, so that alone makes this weekend special.”
The second is Minnesota racing icon John Hagan, whom Anderson befriended while racing with his father. Once the senior Anderson hung up his helmet in 1979, his son joined Hagan’s team, which soon ascended to the Pro Stock ranks. Over the next four years, the two became inseparable, traveling the country, with Anderson learning valuable lessons about racing and life from the personable Hagan.
Unfortunately, Hagan’s tragic demise in a 1983 racing incident left Anderson questioning his future in the sport. However after a two-year absence, an invitation from another Minnesota racer, Warren Johnson, brought him back, where he implemented the knowledge from his previous experiences to further his career. Returning this weekend as a four-time champion and 68-time national event winner, he is quick to acknowledge the talented tandem who started him on his way.
“John Hagan, was like a second father, picking up where my father left off,” said Anderson. “He not only gave me my start in Pro Stock racing, he also taught me a lot about racing and life. For example, like my dad he showed me the importance of hard work and treating people right, lessons that have stayed with me today. I almost walked away from the sport after his passing in 1983, but a perfectly timed offer from Warren Johnson brought me back, and I’ve been blessed ever since.
“I think of John every day, and have stayed close with his family since we lost him, and they come to Brainerd every year to see us. His wife Gerry is doing great, as are his sons David and Michael. They have grown up to be tremendous people, and I am so proud of them all. One of my favorite racing memories was presenting them the Wally in 2003 after my first win in Brainerd. That meant the world to me, just as it did in 2009 when I gave my dad the trophy after my second Brainerd win, because, let’s face it, I wouldn’t be here without them, and I thank them for getting me involved.”
Located in the middle of the Brainerd Lakes area, Brainerd International Raceway is a multi-purpose motorsports facility that has hosted sports car and motorcycle races in addition to its yearly NHRA national event. It also offers a unique camping experience in its infield which has earned the nickname “the Zoo”. However, when Anderson and the KB Racing crew arrive in the North Star state, they will have to put all distractions behind them and concentrate on the job at hand if they are to score their fourth BIR win.
“Winning any event means a ton to me, but winning Brainerd is even more special,” said Anderson. “For example, it’s a race that’s eluded Jason (teammate Line) so far, and one of my wins came at his expense in the final. I’ve never seen that look of disappointment on his face on anyone else in my career, because as our roots, that one race means so much to both of us, and we have many supporters on hand that we don’t get to see anywhere else.
“Of course, having so many friends and family on hand can be a distraction, but over the years, our friends have learned our routine, and somehow we have figured a way to work around it, although it’s still a bit of a challenge. Even so, we always enjoy going back to the motherland, because it’s often the only time all year we get to go back and visit.
“In fact, one of the biggest tests we’ll have will be finding enough tickets for everyone who wants to come out, but somehow we always find a way to make that happen. It’s a fun-packed weekend, and one we always look forward to. Of course, once we’re at the track, we put our game faces on and get to work.”
The final obstacle between Anderson and his fourth win of the season might very well be a familiar one – teammate Jason Line, who is the only racer to best the defending champion in a final round in 2011. When factoring in Line’s overwhelming desire to score his first home state win, Anderson knows he will have his work cut out for him, although admitting it is a good problem to have.
“It’s good that Jason and I are both running so well” said Anderson. “After all, it’s our ultimate goal. Of course, it’s tough to race against equipment that you know is as good as yours, but we’d never consider it a negative, because as long as one of these Summit Racing Pontiac wins, we’re happy.
“So far this season, he has shut me out, which goes to show you how good he is and how tough a racer he is. My hat’s off to both he and the KB Racing team, and in order to beat him I’ll have to find a way to do a better job as a driver. I am so proud of his performance, and as determined as he is to win in Brainerd, it’s going to be tough to top him this weekend, as well as the rest of our competition, who is also pretty hungry, but we’ll give it our best shot, and see what happens when the dust settles on Sunday. ”