In The News: Both Greaves are TORC Truck Series Champs.
by Joe Verdegan | September 6, 2014
For the Greaves family, Crandon International Off-Road Raceway provided some true home cooking last weekend.
De Pere native Johnny Greaves and his 19-year-old son CJ Greaves made the course their personal playground. Johnny clinched his 10th professional off-road racing title, winning The Off Road Championship Pro 4 truck series crown, while CJ captured the Pro 2 truck title.
It was the first time a father-son duo took division titles in the same year.
“For us, Crandon is really like our Daytona 500,” Johnny Greaves said. “There were 80,000 people there last weekend. It was our home track. It was the track’s 45th anniversary and they had drivers from both the East and West coast show up and race. It was awesome.”
It was no picnic for the Greaves because the Saturday portion of the show was rained out.
“Basically what they did was make it a double-points race on Sunday,” Johnny said. “That actually made it tougher because … a flat tire or a wreck and I would have been toast. It worked out well as we both wound up second. I needed to place seventh or better, CJ needed a ninth or better.”
CJ, who’s been racing professionally for four seasons, posted top-three finishes racing in a record three divisions at Crandon.
“It was cool, real cool,” said CJ, who took online schooling through high school so he could race professionally. “We just built the Pro 4 truck for this Crandon deal and we didn’t expect to do as well as we did. I’ll be moving up to the Pro 4 class full time in 2015.”
Being a full-time racer at 19 has its benefits and its pitfalls. “It’s cool that you have fans that follow you around the country and look up to you even though you’re just 19,” he said. “I get to meet people from all over the world, but my main course of friends are at the track. The downside is I never really went to a normal high school per se and all of that.”
If CJ hadn’t chosen off-road racing as his occupation, he had another career goal. “I likely would have gone to school for welding because there is a pretty good market for them,” he said. “I weld at the shop as it is anyways when we build our trucks and trucks for some other teams in the winter, too.”
Johnny used to install windows for a living before he went racing full time in 1997. Through hard work and persistence, he was able to land major sponsorship from Monster energy drink, Toyota and Maxxis tires. “To be honest, we couldn’t do any of this at the level we do without any of them,” Johnny said. “That’s why come October we fly out west and stay there and take care of the many sponsor commitments we do. It’s all part of the game and we’re happy to do it.”
While the TORC championships are signed, sealed and delivered, the racing season isn’t over for the Greaves. “There is a big-money race in California we’re both going to race in in October,” Johnny said. “In between now and then, we’ll likely go back to Crandon and do some more testing.”
Johnny says the team typically will test at Crandon four times in a calendar year. Racing full time doesn’t leave a lot of time for hobbies, although CJ has one. “I race RC (radio-controlled) cars when I’m home,” CJ said. “I also like mountain biking. It helps keep me in shape and I bring my bike with me pretty much everywhere we go on the road.”
CJ has a personal trainer he works with twice a week. “Racing off road is very abusive to your body,” he said. “I raced five times Sunday at Crandon in those different classes because of the rainout. With the driver’s suit and the helmet on you can get pretty worn out in a hurry.”
While Johnny is going to continue off-road racing at least in the short term, CJ has other goals in mind. “I honestly wouldn’t mind taking a look at running something in NASCAR someday if the opportunity presented itself,” he said. “I drove an asphalt super late model at (Wisconsin International Raceway) down in Kaukauna last summer. But right now we really just don’t have the time to get into that – at least for now.”
Joe Verdegan is a freelance writer who covers area racing for Press-Gazette Media. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.