February 21, 2012 by BoomerPDX
(also found on oregonsportsnews.com and oregonlive.com)
If you’ve ever felt the air shake when someone in the neighborhood revs their week-end racer, you miss it when it’s gone.
Where I grew up, the new family next door had four dirt track stock cars they warmed up before they left for work in the morning. The boss would fire one up, then another, the pitch of their engines moving in and out of deep harmony.
After the first month of that symphony, my dad built a fence that violated every kind of neighborhood Covenants, Conditions, Restrictions.. Instead of a solid eight foot wall of silence, it was an eight foot wall of slightly muffled V8 thunder. For six months that sound was the best alarm clock made, even if it started a 4:30 a.m.
Then they moved away.
The quiet was too quiet. The windows didn’t shake. Dust didn’t drop off lamp shades. Since it was a small town to begin with, they probably moved closer to the racetrack. Each year when NASCAR kicks off their season, the memory of those neighbors come back full throttle.
I like to think of Greg Biffle as their son.
Here’s a racer from our corner of the country sitting front row for Sunday’s Daytona 500. We’re there with him. For all the big moments in Oregon sports, the Ducks in the BCS games, the Blazers in the playoffs, Nike runners making the Olympics, having one of our own on the outside pole of NASCAR’s signature event is as big as it gets.
Who is Greg Biffle? He didn’t fall from the Petty or Earnhardt family tree. There is no Foyt or Andretti racing royalty blood in his veins. He’s not Ricky Bobby, unless there’s something we don’t know.
What we do know is Greg is a championship racecar driver pushing harder all the time. But, he’s not going too fast to forget where he’s from and those who followed him from the beginning. He knows where his roots are.
How many athletes own their personal field of competition? The Giants won the Super Bowl in the house that Peyton Manning built, but he doesn’t own Lucas Oil Field. Does he own any football stadiums? The Yankees played in the House That Ruth Built before they tore it down and moved across the street, but how many baseball players actually own a baseball diamond?
If Greg Biffle wins the Daytona 500, you can say he owns that track, but it’s not the one he actually owns. His racetrack is out in Banks, Oregon. The Sunset Speedway runs Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stock, Pure Stock, Women’s, 4-Bee, and Tracer. It sounds like an evolution of racecars, the sort of rides that lead to the big time.
We know about climbing the race ladder because of Greg Biffle. From Oregon dirt tracks to his home in North Carolina, Biffle collected Rookie of the Year honors at stops to the top, along with 123 top ten finishes, sixty-nine top five finishes, and sixteen first places. His record adds up to over $40,000,000 in winnings.
How much does winning pay at Riverside, now Cottage Grove, Speedway? Or Willamette Speedway near Lebanon? Is it more about racing than money? Of nine dirt ovals, including Southern Oregon Speedway in White City, River City Speedway in St. Helens, Pleasant Valley Speedway in Pleasant Valley, Madras Speedway, Elgin Outlaw Speedway, and LaGrande Speedway, eight were either new or updated in June of ’05.
Oregon racers found new tracks the same year Biffle won six NASCAR races to lead all drivers. He finished second in the standings that year behind Tony Stewart. It was a great year for racing.
2005 was a landmark year for Oregon motor sports, Greg Biffle, and the Greg Biffle Foundation. Do all NASCAR guys have a foundation…for dogs?
From the Foundation’s mission statement: The Greg Biffle Foundation was founded in 2005 by Greg and Nicole Biffle to create awareness and serve as advocates to improve the well-being of animals by engaging the power and passion of the motor sports industry.
Financial support for the foundation comes from a variety of sources including individual contributions along with the sale of NASCAR Pets calendars and various racing and other sports memorabilia.
When you watch the greatest stock car race in the world this Sunday, think of the tens of thousands of miles it took each driver to cover before they could line up for their next 500. Some of those miles came on dirt tracks, some on paved, but none came further from the Southern traditions of racing than Greg Biffle.
Win or lose, he is the undisputed King of Stock Car Racing in the Pacific Northwest, and he wears the crown proudly.
For Greg Biffle Fantasy NASCAR fans, click here.