FUZI: Pitside Chatter
GAYLORD, Mich. — For Wisconsin’s Johnny Greaves life has always been about taking risks and tackling new challenges.
From his youth Johnny has been involved in motorsports, and although he is now known for his successes behind the wheel of the No. 22 Monster Energy TORC off-road series Pro 4×4 division Toyota Tundra, Johnny’s first passion was motocross, which he started competing in at age 12.
“I raced professional motocross for quite a while, and Crandon, Wisconsin, always used to run motocross and quads in conjunction with the big off-road race. I would go there with the bike and then stay to watch the buggies and the trucks,” Greaves explained. “I think it was the second year there that I really took some interest in it because as the saying goes, ‘With age comes a cage.’ It was coming time to be getting off the bike so I ended up trading at Crandon for a buggy. I showed up with a couple dirt bikes and went home with a buggy on a trailer and that’s how it all started…From there it all snowballed.”
From the Buggies, Greaves moved on to the Pro Light division and found his big break, “The Pro Lights were all Fords at the time, but I was a Toyota guy through and through so I went and built a Toyota. I let Toyota know what I was doing and the next thing I knew we were a factory-backed team.”
In the Pro Lights Greaves built his reputation to be one of the greatest drivers the division had ever seen, amassing numerous wins and multiple championships including four back-to-back. Since entering the Pro-4 ranks Greaves has continued to prove himself worthy of his spot atop the list of most successful off-road racers by picking up another half-dozen titles and four Cup events.
Two of those Cup events took place at Crandon (Wis.) where drivers vie for a chance at the Borg-Warner Cup (now named the Amsoil Cup), “That’s a tough deal because the Pro 2s and the Pro 4s run together. It’s the end of the weekend and everybody is wound up, not only do you have to be the best guy that day you’ve also got to be smarter than the rest of them which is really hard after you’ve raced all weekend, so to be able to win even one of those is definitely special as it is the grand-daddy of them all.
For the 2010 Pro 4×4 TORC champion, having the opportunity to compete full-time is not something he takes lightly, “It’s been a great career no doubt and the beauty of this sport is that it can last. Walker Evans was 60 when he retired and I’m 45 now, so I think I’ve still got some legs under me.”
Not only does the sport boast many veterans, but in recent years there has been an emergence of young drivers taking to the track, a trend that was aided by Greaves own son C.J. who at age 16 is a strong competitor in both Super Buggy and Pro Light. Being team owner, fan, and dad in a single sector is a challenge, but as Johnny said with a chuckle, “C.J. and I have been racing together since he was 3 years old on a dirt bike. He’s been racing his whole life so we’ve already dealt with the drama that comes with
Racing, so for me to have him get into this is a dream come true.”
With brother Curt making decisions from the standpoint of crew chief, and wife Kathy taking care of the clerical end of the business alongside his mother; Johnny rarely misses out on family time.
The couple’s children, Jessica (18) and C.J. are often at the track and despite splitting time between homes in Abrams, Wisconsin and Temecula, Calif., the entire family enjoys the weekends they spend together at the track.
“It’s kinda like camping with my brothers whole family, only with racing,” according to Johnny.
As for the future of the Johnny G Motorsports team, Greaves goal is to run the series as long as he is able to be competitive and then move into a new role. “I’m really interested in owning a top of the line super team someday,” he explained. “I guess we do now, but I’m still one of the drivers so it’s really hard to focus on all that and then go race. So the day I can sit back and watch my guys race, that will be cool…but they’ve got to beat me first.”