The GXP in Englishtown
My dad, Johnny Gray, has been at this for so many years, and it was awesome to see him win in his Service Central Funny Car in Englishtown. Now he has two wins under his belt in the professional class, and I really think he’s going to win more this year. With the way his crew chief Rob Wendland and those guys have everything running over there, it’s just a matter of time.
You always want to win, but when I see my dad do something like that, it just makes me want to dig harder. He was at the Gray Motorsports shop last week, and he shed a lot of good ideas on our program. We all feel like we’re headed in the right direction, and we have some exciting things in the future. Shoot, we’re just going to dig hard.
After Englishtown, me and the guys all sat down and had a conversation as a team and we said, you know what, we’re never going to get the Camaro to a race until we get it out and really test it. We knew we needed two good days, so we took it out to Rockingham and sure enough, we had two great days of testing.
A photo taken by my crew chief Justin Elkes after a great day of testing in Rockingham.
It went very well, and I sure enjoyed driving the GXP, but it’s awesome to think about racing the Service Central Camaro in Pro Stock – Stock being the key word. You can actually go down to the Chevrolet dealer and buy a Camaro, and that’s just neat. The Camaros are the wave of the future. Besides all that, it’s just a really cool-looking car. I’m pretty excited to bring it out in Bristol for the first time and see what we can do at the Thunder Valley Nationals. I feel totally confident that the car is as good as, if not better than, the car I just got out of.
I have a new attitude. I’ve been doing some soul-searching and looking around, and you know what? There are a lot of people who have it a whole lot worse than me in life. I’ve been frustrated with our program, but I’m going to look at this from a different perspective. There are a lot of folks out there that suffer and have way bigger problems than I have – heck, the only problem I have in life is that my racecar isn’t quite as fast as I want it to be right now, and that’s really nothing to gripe about.
I guess you could say that I kind of slapped myself in the face and told myself that I need to appreciate what I have and what I’m doing. There are a lot of people out there who would gladly take my seat even if we can’t qualify on the pole. I’m changing my attitude, and I’m getting myself moving in a new, positive direction.
We’ve got a lot of reasons to be excited heading into this race, so we’re going to go to Bristol with a new car and a new attitude, and we’re going to do the best we can.
As drivers, we get a lot of attention. We’re the ones with our pictures on those pieces of paper called “hero cards,” but the guys who are behind the scenes working their tails off don’t really get much recognition. They’re the guys who should be signing autographs because without them, we wouldn’t be going very far. These are the people who get us from point A to point B in more ways than one, and Jep Trammell is an important part of what goes on with our Service Central car at the racetrack. Even though he wasn’t real excited to talk about himself, I thought it was about time he got a little recognition. I work with some great guys, but this one is about Jep.
My dad, Jep Trammell Sr., raced Super Pro when I was a little kid, so I guess you could say that I’ve been in drag racing all my life. I always loved it, and when I got older, me and my cousin Arthur Allen would go wherever the local race was. I was 18 years old when Arthur came back from the military, and a couple of our friends had Top Sportsman cars so we started traveling around with them and going racing.
I did get out of racing for a little while. When I turned 21, I got my CDL and my dad gave me my first dump truck, then in 1996 I went down to Atlanta for the Olympics and moved there the next year. I was driving dump trucks and working for Gaddis Trucking, and that is where my next connection to drag racing came in. The trucking company belonged to the brother of Pro Stock racer Barry Grant’s wife, Robin. She knew I liked racing, and she approached me about working on the team. Barry Grant was the driver, and Buddy Ingersoll was the crew chief. In 2005, I started working with them, and Buddy Ingersoll taught me everything I know. He used to tell me to go out there and take the car apart and put it back together. I learned everything from him, and I thank him every day.
Two years later, I started working with Bob Gilbertson on his Funny Car. Tommy DeLago was the crew chief and showed me how to do the clutch on the Funny Car. I took a year off after that because some buddies of mine had some dump trucks, and I went to help them get the business running – me and my brother and my dad. We started with one truck, and when I left we had eight.
In November of 2009, the Pomona race, Craig Hankinson – he’s the car chief on Shane’s car – called me and asked if I would be interested in working with them on Johnny’s Pro Stock car in 2010. I knew Craig from when I worked with Gilbertson, there was a guy there named Dan Gieselman and he used to work with Craig at Mark Pawuk’s. We used to go watch Craig drive – he is a real good driver – and that’s how I got to meet him. I knew his face from when I used to work with Barry, but I had never really met him before.
When Craig called, it took a minute for me to realize that that’s what I really wanted to do. Well, I knew I did, but I didn’t know how to tell the guys that I had formed the company with. It was a tough decision, but I ended up leaving January 4th and moving to North Carolina. I stayed with Jason from the team and his wife Kim for 3 months before I got my own apartment, and I’ve been there ever since. When Johnny moved to Funny Car, they moved me and Jason over to Shane’s team. Shane and the boys, they opened their arms to me.
I do the clutch on the car, build transmissions, and I can do the back half – but that depends on what you call the back half. I can change the tires and put the rear ends in, but messing with the four-link, I don’t do that. I also drive the transporter, and I like driving to all the races because you see more than you do flying, and I see stuff that I’ll never forget. I don’t care how old I get, I will never forget where I’ve been.
This Service Central team is a great place to be, and as long as they keep me, I’m here. I love it, and I just love who I work for. I’m happy to stay right where I’m at.
I guess you could say I felt real special on my birthday
Yesterday was my birthday, and the birthday elves stopped by (I think Amber and Kim might have had something to do with it!). We had a good lunch and some laughs, and yes, it was all at my expense, but I know it’s out of love. Well, I hope anyway.
Amber is a great wife, a great mom, and a great friend. She always goes above and beyond to make everyone feel special, and I should have known that Kim Ward was in on it, too. She runs the show at the Gray Motorsports shop handling more than you can imagine in the front office. Anyway, it was a good time and a nice break for all of us in the middle of our day. So a special thank you to the girls and to everyone in the shop for being involved – and to everyone on Facebook and in the Twitter world who took the time to stop by and say hi. I appreciate all of you!
It feels like so much time has passed already, but it really wasn’t too long ago that we got to spend some family time together for Easter. Bryce was home from school and motocross camp so the whole family was together. I also got to spend a lot of time with my dad on the fishing boat that weekend, and you know that made me real happy because I love being on the water. I’ve said before that if I wasn’t driving a race car and working at the Gray Motorsports shop, I’d probably be doing something with boats. It’s just one of my favorite things, and I love being out there whenever I get the chance.
We also took the kids for an Easter egg hunt on Saturday that weekend. Jason and Cindy Line’s little ones, Jack and Emma, they were there too with Taylor, and it was neat to see them having fun and enjoying themselves.
Sunday morning the family went to Church and then afterwards I got to get back on the lake to do a little more fishing. We went over to my mom and dad’s place and picked up Bryce’s new motorcycle they bought him for his birthday (next week already!), and Amber took some great family pictures before it was time to say goodbye to Bryce before he headed back to MotoCross camp with a friend who came to pick him up. We finished up the weekend with dinner on the lake with Amber, Tanner and Taylor and my parents.
It was really nice to have that relaxing time with the family. We are so fortunate to get to do what we love and race our Service Central car, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in it that we forget for just a minute what really matters. I have a great family, and weekends like that are the ones that are the best of all.
My son Tanner had a birthday recently, and he is now officially a teenager. Don’t you all get used to this or anything, but since he’s growing up so fast, I thought it would be a good time to let him get on here and talk to you a little bit, maybe give everybody a little bit of his perspective about what it’s like on the road. Having my family with me is an important part of this whole deal, and even though they aren’t able to get to every single race, they’re there for most of them. That means a lot to me.
Before I hand this over, I wanted to tell you that Tanner and my oldest son Bryce had a really great weekend while we were in Charlotte at the 4-Wide race. While we were qualifying on Saturday, Bryce won a national MotoCross race which qualified him for the national amateur championships in Tennessee called the Loretta Lynns. He’ll go, and if he can do well there and for the next couple of years, then that’ll qualify him to get a pro card. When and if he succeeds at that goal, then we’ll start him at Anaheim for the Monster Energy SuperCross Series. Bryce is a man of few words, but he’s definitely talked in detail of his life goals and if that is what he wants to do, then I’ll do everything in my power to make that happen for him. My father has made what I want to do possible, and in turn, I have to do the same thing for those boys.
That same weekend, Tanner got second in a local race that he had entered. He’s younger than Bryce, and he’s doing his best and we’re real proud of him. We’re proud of all the boys. Amber and I got lucky in the kid department. Anyway, here’s Tanner.
Me on my dirt bike
I like traveling to all the races, but when we are gone for two or three weeks, I’m ready to go home. I like my own bed, and you have nothing really to do at the hotel – just go in there and sleep or lay around. I like that I get to be together with my family, but sometimes we have to get away from each other because we can get on each other’s nerves.
When I’m at home and sometimes at the races I hang out with Cody, Greg Anderson’s son. We’re about the same age, and even though we don’t always like to do the same stuff, we get along pretty well. He plays baseball, and I like motocross. Someday, I want to race professionally. I race now all over the area around my house. I have a Yamaha 85. We went to Virginia not that long ago and I got to get a little bit of time on the racetrack during practice for a race my brother Bryce was running – it was a Loretta Lynn Qualifier.
We’ve been riding ever since I was little. My dad showed us Jr. Dragsters and we raced that for a couple of years, but then I went out and rode again and I started wanting to race. Once I got back on the dirt bike, I knew I wanted to give up Jr. Dragsters and only race dirt bikes. It took my dad a year or two to let me actually race – he was scared we were going to get hurt – but I feel comfortable, and it’s what I like to do. My mom thinks that if that’s what we want to do, then she should support us. Sometimes she’ll go out with us and watch us and get our stuff ready for us and tell us good job, or Jep from the shop will take us down to a few different places with our dirt bikes. It’s a lot of fun.
Sometimes we can bring our dirt bikes when we go to the races and take them out to tracks in the area, but most of the time at the racetrack I stay busy and run my RC car. It’s a Traxxas and we got it a couple of years ago at Seattle. We went into the hobby shop store and I saw it, and that’s all I could talk about the rest of the week. Me, Taylor and Bryce all got one, then they came out with the mini Slashes and we got those. I like the big Slash, but the little Slash is fun around the house. People always ask us where we got them and how much they are, and they’ll stop and watch us. One day I was running it a little too hard and I broke it, but you can buy all kinds of parts at the Traxxas place at the racetrack. If I break an A arm, it only takes like 10 minutes to fix.
I try to stay busy at the track and still pay attention to what my dad and Papa are doing, especially on Sunday. I always want them to win, but I’m okay either way. Sometimes at the end of the day we’ll go eat with the team or sometimes just the family, and I like to go to Olive Garden and get angel hair pasta with scampi sauce. I also have to do my school work at the track. At home we have a school room behind my dad’s shop and we go there every day. I learn algebra, geography, English, science, and bible. Sometimes we watch videos, and I have to take tests and do homework just like regular school. This is our first year doing it this way, and sometimes it can be hard but I’m getting As and Bs right now.
Well, I guess that’s all for now. I hope you liked this blog!