Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SPORTS>>Greer is family man on track

Leader sportswriter

Drivers often talk about the thrill of weekend racing — the rush of showing up at the local short track with the family, trying to conquer the dirt and win a race.

But for veteran driver Todd Greer, his family is a big part of the thrill.

Greer, who lives in Romance and bases his operation in Beebe, has raced for 22 years, mostly at Beebe Speedway.

He won track championships in the mini-stock and street-stock divisions before moving up to the modified class eight years ago.

His family-based race team consists of his brothers and 20-year-old son Justin, who also serves as crew chief.

“They get more tickled about it than I do,” Greer said. “Just watching them about to crawl the fence with excitement while I’m racing — you don’t even have to win — it means a lot.”

The Greer family has had several opportunities to get excited in the first half of the season. In six starts Greer has four top-six finishes, including a pair of third-place runs.

His best shot at a victory ended in his worst finish of the year May 28. Greer won his heat race and earned the outside pole, but his car broke down while he was lining up for the feature.

“It’s such a high and such a low at the same time,” Greer said. “You start on the pole, you break before the race ever starts. So there you go.”

The track may have its ups and downs for Greer but his personal life is stable. He and his wife Jean have been married 28 years, since Todd was 18, and while Justin is the couple’s only child, Todd’s brothers helpfill out the racing operation.

“If it wasn’t for my son and my brothers, I wouldn’t race,” Greer said. “Because they come to the shop. We spend so many hours on the old car to make it run — you can’t do it by yourself.”

As for the car, Greer’s No. 77 modified is black with yellow numbers and a red border. His paint schemes over previous years have featured more blue, but the current graphics give the car a more classic look.

Also giving the car a classic look is its age. Greer drives one of the oldest modified chassis in the central Arkansas area, older than even many of the economy-modified chassis on the local circuit.

Greer has had the chassis for six seasons and confessed to not knowing the car’s actual age.

But Greer and his family still find a way to be competitive in what can be an expensive world of open-wheel modified racing.

“We’re steadily working with it, working with it,” Greer said. “Changing shocks — if they go to modern shocks, we try to put on modern shocks, modern four bars, keep good tires on it, and that seems to get us up in the hunt a little bit.”

Greer runs a paintless, dent-repair business for his full-time job while Justin operates his own lawn-care business. Greer, who has lived in the Beebe area all his life, rides motorcycles as a hobby.

Greer and his family plan to continue racing at Beebe on Friday nights for the foreseeable future, though he has made some appearances this year at Conway County Super Speedway in Plumerville in the Butch Kee owned K1 car.

Greer admitted he sometimes gets tired of the weekly racing grind, but has ridden out those slumps for his family. He said his family is the one thing that makes it all worthwhile, but a good run certainly doesn’t hurt.

“It kind of happens in between weeks, when it’s real hot,” Greer said. “You crash the car, things don’t go too good. I could step out — just a long time doing it kind of wears on you. Then you do good, and you forget all about the burnout.”