IRL: Greg Ray, "Winning isn't Everything"

FORT WORTH-DALLAS (August 26, 1998) -Winning isn't everything. We've all heard it since childhood. Well-meaning adults trying to instill positive values in competitive children who, quite frankly, don't like to lose. Greg Ray of Plano,...

FORT WORTH-DALLAS (August 26, 1998) -Winning isn't everything.

We've all heard it since childhood. Well-meaning adults trying to instill positive values in competitive children who, quite frankly, don't like to lose.

Greg Ray of Plano, Texas is 31-years-old, and he still doesn't like to lose. But he also realizes that being a winner isn't only measured by the number of trips to victory lane.

"This is what I've always wanted to do," said Ray. "While other kids were dreaming of throwing touchdown passes in the Super Bowl, I wanted to drive a race car."

In that respect, Ray's dream has come true. With twelve starts in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, Ray has shown that he isn't just dreaming. The small Thomas Knapp Motorsports (TKM) team knows all about hard work and dedication.

"Everyone has to work hard and work together as a team. We don't have a lot of "extras' -- we make do with what we have."

Even without a win, Ray has shown he has what it takes to be successful and competitive in the sport.

He started on the front row of this year's Indy 500 and battled back to finish 18th after gearbox problems temporarily put him out of the race. In June, he finished a close second in the True Value 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, his best finish ever. The Lone Star 500 is scheduled to be Ray's third race at Texas and he's hoping the third time will be the charm.

"I've had my best two finishes at Texas. It would mean so much to me to win at Ft. Worth. -- here where all my family and friends are -- it would mean a lot."

Ray's second place finish at Texas in June also makes him a top contender for the "Texas Two-Step" Championship, a $100,000 cash bonus to the driver who has the most cumulative IRL points from the True Value 500 and Lone Star 500. A second place in Two-Step points will bring $50,000. For the small independent team of TKM, that would be significant.

"It would make a huge difference. It's been so tough this year, trying to sell sponsorships race to race. We've been lucky enough to roll the dice and make it so far, but, 1998 is drawing to an end -- the '99 season starts in January -- it's giving me ulcers!" laughs Ray.

The team did sit out a few races this season while waiting for decisions on sponsorship. But, never being one to stay idle for too long, Ray found himself driving for the team of fellow Texan A.J. Foyt, filling in for the injured Billy Boat. Ray drove the Dover and Charlotte races for Foyt.

"Right after the accident, I was thinking about Billy being hurt and what a bad deal that was for him -- terrible. But then it hit me -- "why don't I call A.J."? I called them, and of course, they had already had 100 phone calls from people wanting to drive for them. But, it all worked out. They called and said "when can you be here," and I said "how about noon today? Those two weeks with them were more fun than I'd had for a long time," said a smiling Ray.

When he's not driving or trying to sell sponsorships for his team, Ray, who is married with two children, helps run the family-owned Plano Marine. He credits his mom and dad for giving him the confidence to believe in himself and to strive for success.

"As a child, if I wanted to play a sport or study a certain subject, they made me believe that if I wanted to do something, I could do it.

"I've always believed that racing is really about heart and desire. Not the attention or the ego or any of those things. If you work hard --have that natural passion -- and do the right things for the right reasons -- the money will come. It's all about staying focused making it happen for all the right reasons."

Greg Ray has yet to make the trip to victory lane, but he's already proved to be a winner.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Ray , Billy Boat , A.J. Foyt