(Aug. 30, 2016) Drew Greenlaw comes from a small town of about 15 hundred folks, best known as the easternmost municipality in the United States. Every week Drew and his family cross the international border on their way to Geary, where he races in the Martins Home Heating Sportsman division. In this week’s Conversation we talk with the only American driver to run full-time at Speedway 660.
A Conversation with Drew Greenlaw
Wade: Hey Drew how does a kid who was born and raised in a small town in eastern Maine end up becoming a stock car racer?
Drew: Well first of all I grew up watching the old videos of my Dad racing at Cedar Mills near St. Stephen. As a kid I watched NASCAR every Sunday on TV with my Dad. I guess having all the exposure to the sport was what drove my interest in seeing what it was like to go fast and turn left. It didn’t take too many laps before I was hooked. Drew Greenlaw won his first-ever Martins Home Heating Sportsman feature race last Saturday night. He’s hoping to carry that momentum into the A.E. McKay Builders 150 this coming Saturday night at SpeedWeekend.
Wade: Back in 2013 you were our Bandolero champion. What do you best remember from those days and how did running a bando prepare you for jumping into a sportsman car?
Drew: Bandoleros made all of us kids the drivers we are today. Young kids are taking over the sport not just in the Maritimes, but everywhere. I bet ninety percent of these kids started in the Bandoleros. Bandos teach you all about car control because they are way touchier, steering wise than Sportsman cars. The other big thing is momentum. You have to learn how to drive using it, if not, cars will go by you in a blink of an eye.Drew capped off a great Bandolero racing career by winning the 2013 championship. By that time, it is plain to see, he had outgrown his little Bando car and it was time to move into something bigger and faster!
Wade: 2014 was your first season in the Martins Home Heating Sportsman division and you were rookie of the year. You’ve been one of our most consistent sportsman drivers ever since. What does it take to run up front and get great finishes almost every week?
Drew: I think the simplest way to answer that question is you have to keep your nose clean. To me, patience is key, especially in the 150’s. However, watching veterans like Lonnie Sommerville and Dave O’Blenis in those big races teaches us kids a lot. Watching what line they drive or how hard they drive into the corners has been what has taught me the most.Earlier this season, in the Martins Home heating 125, Drew ran bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door for much of the race with the eventual winner Dave O’Blenis. This kind of racing sure helps young drivers improve their skills and gain confidence.
Wade: I hear you do a lot more than just drive a pretty mean race car. Word has it that you are a good baseball player and student too. Congrats on being the valedictorian of your high school graduating class this year and receiving several academic scholarships and awards.
Drew: For most drivers, including me, racing is a hobby. We all still have go to our jobs or go to school the Monday after racing. At my age, you have to think about what you want to do for the rest of your life. That’s why education is always my number one priority. I’ll already be moved into college for my first year before you post this article. I’ll be attending the University of Maine at Orono studying Survey Engineering Technology. But don’t worry, I’ll still be at Speedway 660 for SpeedWeekend. I wouldn’t miss that.Drew is settling in to his university dormitory this week and getting started in his freshman year. But he’s coming back to Speedway 660 for one more race, before putting the car away for the winter.
Wade: Racing is a family sport and I know your family supports your efforts in the Geary Woods.
Drew: My family has been there for me since I started my racing career. Even though we live a little over two hours from the track in a different country, lots of my family and friends still make the trek up to the Geary Woods throughout the summer.Drew has received a lot of support from family, friends and sponsors since he started racing. He appreciates everything everyone has done for him and hopes to continue racing for many years.
Wade: Who are your role models in racing, both here at 660 and in the big leagues and why do those drivers inspire you?
Drew: I grew up coming to 660 watching Lonnie, while my Dad was down in pits helping him out, so he is my role model from the track. Lonnie has always encouraged me to do my best and I just like the way he races and the way he treats people both on and off the track. My favorite NASCAR driver has always been Mark Martin. Even though he has retired, I feel he’s the driver I can most relate to myself. That’s kinda funny because he’s about five feet tall and I’m six foot three. But I always liked his style of driving and he was always a gentleman on and off the track.Drew’s all-time favourite NASCAR driver is Mark Martin. It’s easy to see Mark’s positive influence, on the young driver from Maine, by watching Drew race and seeing how he carries himself on and off the track.
Wade: You were in a pretty intense battle with Ryan Messer all season long for the sportsman championship. You guys pit beside each other and became friends back in bando. What’s it like making a good friend like Ryan and then having to go out and try to beat him on the track?
Drew: Ryan and I have always been good friends. I want to congratulate him on winning the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman Championship. He’s a great driver and really worked hard to win the title this season. When we were younger we would go play NASCAR racing games in his camper in between Bandolero practices. Once I get on the track with him, he’s just another competitor racing against me. We always try to give the other person room enough to race if we’re side by side. We’ve had times where I’ve tapped him and he’s tapped me, but at the end of the day we both know none of it was intentional. We’ve both had to prove that we can hang with “the big boys” and together I think we both can say that we definitely can. Last Saturday night, Drew was one of the first people to congratulate Ryan for winning the Martins Home Heating Sportsman championship. These two friends raced each other hard for the title all season long.
Wade: Earlier you talked about how important family is to your racing career. I know you probably have more sponsors than anyone at 660, so how important is their support?
Drew: Without sponsors I don’t think you’d see me racing. It’s an expensive sport and I don’t know what I’d do without them. Lisa MacIntosh with Re/Max has done wonders for me. She’s the best sponsor you could ask for and it isn’t just because she brings garlic fingers to the track for me every weekend. I’d also like to thank all my other sponsors Pub’s Bottle Exchange, Raye’s Mustard, Lighthouse Lobster & Bait, Greenlaw’s Garage, Eastern Plumbing & Heating, Pembroke Irving, ProSight Property Inspectors, F/v Life is Good, F/v Laverna Gail, Morrison’s Manufacturing, TAC Industries, Seaview Campground, Cooke’s Aquaculture, and Lonnie Sommerville Racing. I also want to thank Richard and Ann Martin for sponsoring the sportsman division.Drew appreciates the support of all of his sponsors including Lisa MacIntosh from Re/Max Group Four Realty. Speedway 660 fans know Lisa as our volunteer 50/50 ticket sales lady. She makes one lucky fan happy every week, with the other half of the draw going to our “weekly guest charity”.
Wade: SpeedWeekend is this weekend and I know you want to have a good showing at A.E. McKay Builders Sportsman 150. What is it about SpeedWeekend that turns your crank?
Drew: SpeedWeekend is the last hoorah! You always save your best for the last big race of the year. The top sportsman drivers in the Maritimes will be there and you have to be on top of your game the entire race. Then after our racing is over on Saturday night, it’s always awesome to kick back and watch the big boys play on Sunday in the McLaughlin Roof Trusses Pro Stock 250. On Sunday, when the McLaughlin Roof Trusses 250 goes green, Drew will be on the edge of his seat like most other fans. He’ll be pulling for his friend and mentor Lonnie Sommerville, who won the 250 in 2009 and 06.
Wade: Once SpeedWeekend wraps up, you won’t have much time to reflect on the 2016 racing season. That’s because you’ll be heading to university to pursue your next academic step. You’ve got to be pretty excited about that.
Drew: University is going to be a big change for me. I graduated from a class of thirty-four back home in Eastport. Now I’m off to a school with twelve thousand students. I’m nervous, but quite excited at the same time for the road ahead.
Wade: Thanks a lot for doing this Drew. Best of luck at SpeedWeekend and all the best this fall at university.
Drew: Thanks for asking me to do this Conversation for the 660 web site. I was going to say that I’ll probably see you when you make your annual fall trip to Eastport for your winter supply of Raye’s Mustard, but I’ll be away in University! I want to wish everyone a great SpeedWeekend and also thank Richard Martin for sponsoring our division, the Roy and Foley families for giving us a great place to race and all of the awesome Speedway 660 fans for coming to the races every week. I look forward to seeing everyone on SpeedWeekend.