Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa

With California Masher Johnny Gray

How we doing Johnny!
JG: Oh not to bad. Just working on winter time stuff like putting new cars together and fixing up the mule for a another season.

Can you give us fans a brief history on yourself?
JG: I have been racing since I was about 12 or 13, but I have had many hobbies since then. I love to hunt and fish with my friends and family. I also like to work on my '79 Ford pick-up, or just go for a ride on my Harley.

You started racing Outlaw Karts at 13....
JG: When I was 12 I had enough of watching racing and just wanted to do it! So I talked my dad and mom into getting me a Outlaw Go-Kart. Since my father and I had no clue what to do with it once we got it, we went to someone who did. That was George and Daniel Becker. After a season of help from them, they offered me to race with them. That is how I met Sean, Daniel and Jamie Becker. They really are the ones who taught me what I know about this great sport! After some years of getting my butt kicked by Sean and Daniel in Go-Karts, I got a Sprint Car. Then it wasn't too long before Sean and Daniel got sprint cars and here we are again!

You chose a pretty good group to help you!

Then the jump to the Sprint Cars in '99......
JG: I found it to be a little easier than a Go-Kart because it had power steering and shocks. Anyone who has raced a Go-Kart knows they are pretty rough! After flipping 5 out of 6 weeks in a row I think I may have got the hang of it!

Can you share something from that first race?
JG: In my first race, we broke a drive line and sat stopped on the back stretch of Silver Dollar, until a lap later when someone not slowing for the yellow hit me and destroyed my first car. I learned a lot that night. Don't stop on the track!

Talk about a learning lesson, an expensive one at that!

You earned Rookie Of The Year honors at Silver Dollar Speedway that same year!
JG: I somehow ended up 6th in points, earning me Rookie Of The Year. I would say that's one helluva accomplishment, Chico can bite a guy big time. After I won rookie of the year it was time to look for my first win.

Care to share what thoughts and feelings you had when you flashed under the checkered flag for the first time that August evening in 2003....
JG: We had so many races we should have won, but lost to mechanical problems. So when the day I finally won, it felt like my greatest accomplishment. It was great to see the look on my Fathers face. It meant just as much to him if not more.

In your brief career as a Sprint Car driver, you seem to keep improving. What would you say is the contributing factor(s) to your success?
JG: I hate to lose! And second is the worst loser because you were so close but it was you that didn't pull the win off.

You've done some racing in New Zealand and bagged one main event win too!.....
JG: I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to race down under because I met so many great people. I went to New Zealand to surprise my little sister who was going to school over there, and with some help I found a car to drive!

Let's talk about your 2004 season for a moment.....

I would like to congratulate yourself, crew and your sponsors a belated, but well deserved congratulations on being the 2004 Silver Dollar Speedway Champion!
JG: This was one of the toughest seasons I've ever had. We had a new crew chief part way through the season, which made an awesome change for the team. It took a lot of hard work for all of us, but I was probably the most relieved to have it all over.

"Silver Dollar Speedway Champion", it has a good ring to it doesn't it!
JG: It is great to be the Champ, but it's over and time to look at something more like "The King of California" and "20005 Silver Dollar Speedway Champ!"

Your weekly '04 stats from Chico are stout. In 16 starts you racked up 5 wins, 13 times you finished in the top 10, and 11 of those finishes weren't outside the top 5!
JG: Hey, all I can say is I had an awesome car all year. My crew chief Randy V. gave me good cars all year, along with a great crew that put my broken cars back together! My car owner (dad) is one of the best! He always keeps great cars and motors under me.

During the '04 season, was there any point during the season you changed you driving style for the Championship, or did you just let it hang out and let things fall where they may?
JG: You can only do so much on the track as a driver, so I take what I can get and then some!

Your name will forever be etched on the list with past Silver Dollar Speedway Champions. And those listed are an extremely stout group....
JG: It is pretty awesome to see my name in there with them. I hope I can put it on there again, but on the other hand I don't want to start and end my carer there either.

Are you running the entire Golden State Challenge Series this year?
JG: We hope to run most of the GSC, but I don't want to burn my crew and pops out. We hope to do a little more traveling with the Outlaws at the end of the year, so we are trying to save some money and just not get burnt out.

What do you feel is going to be the biggest adjustment running with The GSC, besides the different tracks?
JG: The biggest change will be all the traveling! Here in Chico we are a block from the track so it's not too long of a drive for us.

Any future goals you may be working on?
JG: Just as long as I am racing whether it is dirt or pavement it doesn't matter.

Anything else you would like us fans to know about you. Or share something that I didn't touch on?
JG I would like to thank all the fans, not just mine. If it wasn't for them their wouldn't be racing. My family is another big help to me. They have backed me a 100%.

I wish you the best this year, and I thank you again for taking the time for us fans to get to know Johnny Gray a little bit better. It truly has been an honor...
JG: Thank you for taking the time to get to know the real me, and not just the driver.

For the latest news regarding Johnny be sure to check him out at

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