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Meet our crew chief, Justin ElkesWednesday, March 14, 2012
Posted by: Shane Gray, Gray Motorsports Camaro

Our special guests from Service Central came to visit on Saturday.
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.
 
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.
 
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