Drag racers still looking to get on track

National Hot Rod Association drag racer Greg Anderson was signing autographs on Wednesday afternoon in Proctor when a fan approached him with a question.

NHRA racer Greg Anderson
NHRA Pro Stock drag racer Greg Anderson (left) talks with Austin Talson, 14, of Iron River, Wis., after signing a T-shirt at the Powerhouse Car Show in Proctor on Wednesday night as a part of a fundraiser for ALS. (Clint Austin /

National Hot Rod Association drag racer Greg Anderson was signing autographs on Wednesday afternoon in Proctor when a fan approached him with a question.

"Why the switch to Chevies?" he asked.

It's not the first time Anderson has heard that.

Anderson and Summit Racing teammate Jason Line have traded in their Pontiac GXPs for Chevrolet Camaros this year, and the results have been mixed on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing circuit going into this weekend's Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. They were outside Powerhouse Bar on Wednesday with their race cars as part of a classic car show and fundraiser for ALS.

Anderson, a Duluth native, sits third in the Pro Stock point standings while Line, a Wright native, is a shade ahead in second. To anybody else, that'd be great, but with six national championships between them, these two are used to dominating.


"We're not there yet," said Anderson, of Charlotte, N.C. "There's been a learning curve, but we had to start somewhere. We're only a little off, but a little in this business is a lot."

Every measurement of a Pro Stock is within an inch of the actual production model, but don't mistake these cars for your father's Oldsmobile. The bodies are custom made and the 500 cubic inch engines produce 1,450 horsepower on gasoline and carburetors, capable of blasting these cars to more than 210 mph per hour in less than 6½ seconds in a quarter mile.

Despite racing a car with a new body and chassis, Anderson started fast, winning in the Camaro's debut at Englishtown, N.J., on June 3. The 51-year-old hasn't won since and will be looking to gain momentum just two races before the NHRA's playoffs start.

Line, meanwhile, hasn't won since Phoenix on Feb. 19, when he was still racing the Pontiac.

"We're still a work in progress," said the 43-year-old Line, who resides in Troutman, N.C. "It's just one of those things that takes time. Summer is busy so we haven't had a lot of time to work out the kinks, but there is never enough time."

Line, who earlier this week set a world land speed record by racing a full-size pickup more than 225 mph at the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah as part of Speed Week, holds NHRA Pro Stock records for elapsed time (6.477 seconds) and speed (213.91 mph). Both were done in the Pontiac.

With the Pontiac brand now defunct, part of the General Motors overhaul in 2009, it didn't make sense to keep racing a car that wouldn't be factory backed. Now, GM engineers can work with the Summit team to eventually, hopefully, go faster than the Pontiacs ever did.

"We were on our own before, so there was no other way to go," Anderson said. "This is the future, and in the big picture, we'll better off for making this move.


"When this class started 30 to 40 years ago or whatever it was, it was Camaros, it was Challengers, it was Mustangs, it was muscle cars. Over the years we got away from that but now we're coming back around, and that part of this is exciting for us and the fans. We all started in this because we love cars. That's why everybody is here."

While not everyone may have been thrilled with Anderson and Lines moving to Camaros, there are certainly enough fans who are, including Mike Tucci of Proctor, who was among the throng of people who showed up on the blocked off streets of Proctor on Wednesday despite ominous weather approaching from the west.

Tucci's 2010 Camaro SS was parked just a stone's throw away as part of the classic car show.

"It's just great these guys come down here," Tucci said. "These guys are two of the top professional drag racers in the world but they take time to come down here to a local event. You don't normally get to see cars and drivers like this."

Jon Nowacki is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune
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