Drag racing siblings advance to World Finals in Memphis

Two drag racers from Leetonia, Justin Greaver, 14, left, and his stepbrother, Nick Craig, 21, are the 2017 class champions at Quaker City Motorsports Park for 2017. The titles earned both of them a trip to the International Hot Rod Association World Finals in Memphis, Oct. 20-22. The sons of Scott and Tami Greaver, Justin is a freshman at Leetonia High School while Nick majors in mechanical engineering at Youngtown State University. The two are pictured during a test and tune session at Quaker City Motorsports Park on Saturday with Justin’s junior dragster and Nick’s top eliminator dragster in the back. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)

LEETONIA — Two Leetonia drag racers qualified for the International Hot Rod Association World Finals in Memphis, Tn. to be held Oct. 20-22.

Nick Craig, 21, and his stepbrother, Justin Greaver, 14, will appear in the Summit SuperSeries World Finals at Memphis International Raceway.

The Summit SuperSeries is the largest and most prestigious bracket racing national championship in drag racing, according to the IHRA.

Craig, a Leetonia High School graduate, is a mechanical engineering student at Youngstown State University, while Greaver is a freshman at Leetonia High School.

They are the sons of Scott and Tami Greaver.

In Top Eliminator, Craig finished with 37 points winning the 2017 Quaker City Motorsports Park class championship by beating out second-place Mathew Kolbl who scored 32 points. Some 60 racers competed in top eliminator through the season.

Greaver won the 2017 Quaker City Junior Dragster 13-17 class championship with 27 points beating out Kar Tringhese and Hunter Gentile who each scored 21 points. There were nine competitors in Greaver’s class.

Craig started racing when he was nine with the junior dragster before getting behind the wheel of his rear-engined top eliminator car powered by a 572 cubic inch, carbureted big block Chevrolet engine.

“He’s been racing the ‘big car’ since he was 16, his stepfather, Scott Greaver, said.

Justin Greaver races in the advanced junior dragster class and he has also raced since he was nine.

Scott Greaver, who has raced since 1988 and owns two Quaker City track titles himself, expects anywhere up to 160 Top Eliminator cars and about 130 junior dragster cars at Memphis.

When Nick prepares for a run down the 1/8 mile strip, he’s sitting just ahead of that 572 cubic inch Chevy. All that horsepower is directly behind him as he goes through his routine — sort of a pre-run check list.

“It’s definitely a superstition deal. Repetition. You want to do things the same all the time,” he said. “I have … when I get in the car I try to put the belts (5-point safety) on the same. The neck device and helmet and gloves.”

Maybe not so much superstition, but each of the dragster have small “POW” remembrance bells hanging right behind the engines. Something their father added. Never forget.

“I try to more or less focus on what I need to do to get a good reaction time,” Nick said as he approaches the starting lights. “I take a breath, clear my mind. It’s only five seconds,” he said of the time it takes him to complete a run with a trap speed of around 138 mile per hour.

The top eliminator car is electronically massaged and the 5/10th full timing lights get his attention the very instant he pulls into his lane.

Once tripped the lights blink down, three amber, then green

“I actually sort of react at the onset,” Nick said. “You don’t want to want to wait until the green. The car should be moving before the green comes on, but at the same time it shouldn’t be moving too early.

Too early as in red light.

Nick said a big thing is being consistent.

“Doing the same thing. Those races you win by inches, it’s really a good feeling because you know you really did a good job,” he said. “I’ve been doing the big car for five years. I can usually tell when I left how I did.”

While Justin isn’t dealing with quite as much horsepower as his stepbrother his procedure in approaching the starting line isn’t that much different. Except he goes around the water box. That’s the area where the big cars wet their wide, slick tires down, slam the throttle and burn up to the line with clean, heated rubber.

While Nick’s top eliminator car starts growling hard on the first amber light, with Justin’s junior dragster, “You have to wait till the third light.”

“I go on the first amber,” Nick said, explaining a button sets the car into a electronic fury that launches him just as the third light blinks.

With the junior dragster it’s more like popping the clutch.

“This is my second year with the car,” Justin said of the junior dragster. “It will be hard to see this go, but the next step …”

Nick, who learned in a junior dragster, said, “The nice thing about the juniors is they teach you to drive the dragster.”

They’re supportive of each other and make a point of being right alongside each other right up to the starting line.

It’s better to pull a racer back a little then to have to push them. That’s a racing adage.

While drag racing is sometimes a mind game, Scott Greaver knows this: “They both need to be reined in sometimes.”

Top prizes include $5,000 for top eliminator. The junior dragster winner collects $3,000 with a turn key junior dragster valued at about $10,000 — with a custom paint job from Imagine That Customs — along with an IHRA gold card, world champion ironman and a world champion diamond ring.