eigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson grew up in Duluth, Minn., and got his start in drag racing by helping his father campaign regionally with a ‘68 Barracuda Hemi car in both Super Stock A and B Modified Production. “Heck, when I was 10 years old I was on the racetrack with him, carrying water buckets to cool down the car between runs,” Anderson recalls. “That’s where I learned and that’s where I progressed for four or five years.”

Anderson has certainly continued that progression up to the present, where he is well on the way to defending his POWERade crown after winning nine of 12 events in the first half of this season. Early in June, Anderson sat down with DRO at his Mooresville, NC-based shop for an in-depth discussion of his career and the current issues facing drag racing and Pro Stock in particular. Here, in Part I, Anderson describes his career development and how he came to build a championship-caliber team

DRO: How did you get started in professional racing?

Anderson: My dad pulled back when he knew the cost and the time for travel was starting to get crazy. He was trying to raise four children and it was tough to do that. But when he pulled back I decided that I didn’t want to pull back. So he got me hooked up with a good personal friend of his by the name of John Hagen, which was in ‘78 or ’79. I raced with John who ran Pro Stock in Division 5 against Warren Johnson.

DRO: How old were you at the time?

Anderson: I was probably 16 years old. In between school and weekends I’d run down there and work with him part-time and during the summer when I was out of school I went to races with John Hagen and as soon as I graduated I started doing it full time.

John was killed in 1983 at the national event in Brainerd. I was there, I was part of his crew, and I saw it first hand right in front of my eyes and it certainly knocked the wind out of
my sails. That was the toughest thing I had ever been through in my life. It knocked the desire to do it right out of me for the next couple of years. For a couple of years I went back to work at my father’s car lot and just worked on used cars. My father had a used-car lot and I would do all the service work on the cars, engine work, body work, whatever it took to fix up and sell the used cars.

I did that for a couple of years until I was at the Brainerd national event in 1986 and I ran into Kurt and Warren (Johnson) and he asked if I was interested in getting back into the sport. We had been racing against them. They were the two main rivals in division 5, Warren and John, they kinda’ swapped off and would win races between the two of them.

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