The Camaro on the way to our Gray Motorsports shop
Sitting in our new Service Central Camaro for the first time
We've been waiting a long time for this, and it finally happened. We finally got our new Chevy Camaro, and oh, boy is it ever a good lookin' car.
After Vegas, Jason and Jep drove the rig right over to Jerry Haas' shop to pick it up. I think we're all excited about it, and this is just what we needed to bring our spirits up. The guys were sending us pictures of the Camaro as they were loading it up, and it started getting more and more exciting. They put a motor in it, got all the linkages set up, and made sure everything was good to go, and then they got back on the road. They got to the shop on Wednesday night, and me and Amber went down there to see it because we just couldn't wait.
You know how pictures are – they just couldn't do it justice because it's such a beautiful car, and Jerry Haas did a stand-up job on that thing. The detail work on it is really nice. I got in it for a minute and checked it out from the inside, and you know what? I think it might even be a little bit better to see out of than the GXP.
Now we're making sure everything is like we like it, all the nuts and bolts are tight, all the weight is in place on it, and get her ready to test on Monday after the Charlotte race. I'm ready to make the change soon, and I feel pretty certain that we'll have the Camaro out at the Houston race.
I know I promised you guys some pictures from Taylor's birthday, so here they are. We had a little party for him before I left and took him to the NASCAR Hall of Fame with a few friends and Amber's mom and dad, and then when we were in Vegas racing, Amber put together something fun for him and his friends at the House of Trampolines. She sent me these pictures, and it was good to get to see him with his little buddies. They had a good time. It wasn't all fun though, Taylor got hurt on his bicycle and broke his wrist, but he's up and running 90 mph again. Of course it didn't faze him a lick.
Happy Birthday, Taylor
We're getting ready for the race in Charlotte, and that's pretty much a home race for us. It'll sure be nice to sleep in my own bed. Four-wide racing is definitely something different, and you know I can think of a lot worse things than racing four-wide once a year. Bruton Smith has given us some very class-act, top quality racing facilities, and we'll see what we can do in the Service Central Pontiac at this one.
We'll be wearing Tire Kingdom scheme this weekend, and don't forget to stop by and say hi and get one of our hero cards so you can use the tear-off coupon at your local Tire Kingdom, Merchant's Tire & Auto Center, NTB, or Big O Tires store. That's a neat deal there, and the coupon is good for a discount on an oil change and tire rotation. We'll see you at zMAX Dragway on Friday.
This year is going by so fast already. The trucks left today to head to Las Vegas for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, and when we loaded up our Service Central Pontiac, I had a pretty good feeling. Last week there were a bunch of us that went out to test at zMax Dragway over there in Charlotte – it's only a little ways from our shop in Denver, N.C., so it feels a little bit like home when we're there, and I like that.
My dad came up to visit the weekend after Gainesville, and he came by the Gray Motorsports shop and we all kind of put our heads together. His Service Central Funny Car has been tuned up lately, and I know he wants to see our program follow along those same lines. Well, we're learning some things, and it showed when we got the car on the racetrack. I have no complaints about that test session, and it was real encouraging. Now I can't wait to get to Las Vegas and see what we can do.
We celebrated two birthdays last week - my dad, Johnny Gray, and my son Taylor. Here we are in Phoenix earlier this year.
While my dad was here, we got the family all together and had dinner. It was a whole bunch of us, and we had a great time celebrating his birthday. He doesn't like to make a big deal out of it, but getting the family together is something we can do that we know makes him happy. Heck, it makes all of us happy.
When I leave for Las Vegas here on Thursday, it will be the first time this season that I won't be leaving with Amber and the boys. We decided that they would stay behind this time, and that's going to make the weekend a little bit different. For one thing, Amber always makes sure that we all get fed. I like to eat so I won't go without a meal or anything, but it's going to be a matter of me getting it myself! More than that, though, it just feels like not having your favorite pair of shoes on when you leave the house. Maybe that's a guy thing because I know girls usually have several different pairs of shoes, but what I'm trying to say is that it just won't be quite as comfortable without them.
I know I say it all the time, but my guys just work so hard. Because of all that hard work we are ready to go, and me and the family got to head up to Virginia to watch my oldest, Bryce, race in a Loretta Lynn Area Qualifier – a MotoCross event – this weekend. He did well, and we're sure proud of him. We also celebrated a birthday for my youngest: Happy Birthday, Taylor. I'll see if I can come up with some pictures for you guys and post them later. It was good to spend quality time with everyone before I head west this week, that's for sure.
Overall, I think it will be a good weekend. We're going to go spend some time with everybody at the Fan Fest on the Brooklyn Bridge in Las Vegas outside of the New York-New York casino on Thursday night (we'll be there from 6:00 to 7:30 pm), and those Fan Fests are always a good time. The last one at The Ale House in Gainesville was just awesome, and I expect this one will live up to the hype, too. Then we'll get some shut-eye before heading to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway early on Friday. It looks like the sun is supposed to shine this weekend, and hopefully it will shine on us a little more than it has in the past couple of months. We aren't planning on being timid on that racetrack, and boy would it would be nice to see everything come together.
Oh, before I forget. The guys are going to pick up our new Camaro on the way home from Vegas. Can't wait to get it to the shop!
Amber, my brother Jonathan, and Mom and Dad all came to the starting line for me in Gainesville.
Hey you guys. Just a real quick update before we go testing again on Monday and Tuesday in Charlotte.
Did you all see my dad take the Service Central Racing Funny Car to the final at the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals? We sure are proud of him. He's fourth in the points right now, and man, he's got a great racecar. He got bit by the bug, and he's on Twitter now, too. Check it out: @JohnnyGrayFC.
As for us, we stayed after and tested on Monday after they finished up the race in Gainesville, and I can tell you that it went really, really well. We actually ran much faster testing than we did at the race. That's not ideal, but we know we're making progress. Our speed was good, almost 211 mph, and we went a 6.53, so that was definitely better. We learned a lot, so now we're going to test that out in Charlotte and see if we can put what we learned to use after our guys take some long-overdue rest over the weekend. All of our motors are pretty well ready to go, and we're in good shape. They have definitely earned a break.
I wanted to give you an update on our new Jerry Haas-built Camaro, too. We are hoping to have it next week in the shop, then after Vegas we want to test it. If all goes well, we'd like to bring it out at the first Charlotte race. That's the latest and greatest from here. You all take care.
Hey guys, Shane here. The Tire Kingdom Gatornationals were a pretty cool deal for us – our Tire Kingdom and Service Central family all came out because their headquarters are nearby, and that was really neat. I'd like to say thanks to each and every one of them. We sure do appreciate you all, and I hope you know that. A big thanks again for all you do for the Gray Motorsports teams.
Our special guests from Service Central came to visit on Saturday.
While we're talking about the fine folks at Service Central, they've hooked you all up with a real good deal: Come by our trailer at any race and pick up one of our hero cards – there's a tear-off coupon on each card to save you some cash on an oil change and tire rotation – and if I'm lucky, you'll let me sign the card before you take that coupon to your local Tire Kingdom, Merchant's Tire & Auto Center, NTB, or Big O Tires store to redeem it.
The crowd in Gainesville is always a good one, and we sure do enjoy getting out there in that Florida sun. It didn't shine all the time while we were there, but we got some doses here and there. Be sure to check out our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/GrayMotorsportsShaneGray) to see a bunch of behind the scenes pictures from the event, and don't forget to click the Like button so you can keep up with us at every race. If you're a fan of Twitter, our handle is @ShaneGrayPS.
I'm gonna turn this over to my crew chief, Justin Elkes. The Gainesville race is a local one for Justin's family, and his stepdad, David Galloway, was one of our guests there at the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals. That was sure something special, and I'd like him to tell you about it. I'll catch up with you all soon. In the meantime, have fun.
Justin with his stepdad, David Galloway
Thanks, Shane. I thought tuning the Service Central Pontiac GXP was serious business, but that's nothing compared to blogging. I'll give it a shot, but I'm not making any promises on how this is going to turn out.
I'll start by saying that it's always a good thing for me when we race in Gainesville because I get to have family there all weekend. I'm from Ocala, which isn't far from Gainesville, and my dad Chip Elkes lives in Tampa, my grandfather Frank Elkes lives in Ocala, and my step dad David Galloway lives in DeLand, so they were all able to come to the race. My grandparents, my mom, my wife and kids – they were all there – so it was a busy weekend.
It's funny because I can remember growing up and my stepdad bringing me to the Gatornationals to see guys like Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin, and Warren and Kurt Johnson. I have all of their autographs at home on a hat from when I was 14 or 15 years old, and now here I am racing with them. People ask me what that's like, but when I'm here I don't think about it like that – I just know that we're a group of guys racing against each other. When I do stop and think about it though, it's kind of neat. He'd take me to see John Force and everyone else, of course, but Pro Stock was always the big deal. We had models of cars in our house growing up, and they were always of cars driven by guys like Bob Glidden. It's always been about Pro Stock.
Justin and his wife, Michelle
Justin and his stepdad with Landen and Mason working on the Traxxas car.
When I was younger, my stepdad was interested in cars, and he bracket raced so we would go to the drag strip. The big one we would always go to was the Super Chevy show in Palm Beach. We would take the RV down there, and it was a lot of fun. I really wasn't into cars when I was in high school because I played a lot of sports, and I didn't get back into racing until I was in college at Florida Atlantic University and went to work for Wilson Manifolds. We ran our own Pro Stock car in IHRA with Wilson, and the driver was originally Rob Mansfield, and then the last driver was Matt Hartford, who we won the ADRL championship with. It was a great experience that just snowballed, and now here I am.
Anyway, it's neat having my family here. I think my stepdad enjoys it. He mostly stays off to the side and watches us work, but I really like having him here. My wife, Michelle, was also here with our kids, Landen and Mason.
Our pit area is always busy with kids, but it's never my kids – and that definitely changes things, but in a good way. I can get so consumed by the computer and all the notes sometimes, and I know I need to get up, but I just don't. When they're here, I can go hang with them for a minute, forget about the car and the racing for a little bit, and then go back to it. It keeps your mind fresh. When they're not around, I really don't have anywhere to be but at the computer and concentrating on the car, and sometimes I am consumed by that. You can tend to fixate on it too much, and that's not always a good thing.
My wife is great. Michelle and I have been together 10 years. I met her when I was 21 or 22, and I was on the road racing already with Wilson so she doesn't know a different life with me. She was going to college in Central Florida when we started dating, and she'd come down to the shop on the weekends and sleep on the couch while we were building motors and getting ready to go racing. She understands the typical routine. I am very lucky, and I try to remember that. I'm taking her to New York this week to show my appreciation.
The 18th of February was our five-year wedding anniversary, and we were racing in Phoenix. Yep, I was away for both our 5-year wedding anniversary and Valentine's Day this year – she's very forgiving. Anybody out here will tell you it gets tough, but it's just what we do. I'm lucky enough to have a family who is very supportive, and it's really good when they are able to come out and enjoy it with me.