NHRA Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson has been as patient as possible, and this weekend he will finally be back where he belongs: behind the wheel of the Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro for the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals at Houston’s Royal Purple Raceway.
For Anderson, missing the first five events of the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series was a necessary evil as he recovered from heart surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve. A man whose belly burns with such a fierce competitive fire could not easily swallow the bitter pill of watching from the sidelines, and although the original prescribed time off was to be six races, Anderson worked hard to return to form and will return one race earlier than expected.
A panel of doctors officially cleared his safe return to driving the 200-plus mph, 1,500 horsepower Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro the Monday before the coming weekend’s event.
“It was very difficult to sit out those first five races,” admitted Anderson. “We racers tend to think that everything in life is all about drag racing. Nothing is more important. We live it, breath it, eat it, sleep it. And sometimes we think we’re invincible – but I found out firsthand that we’re not.
“In the beginning, I thought the surgery and recovery would be a simple deal, a piece of cake, that I would bounce right back. Turns out it was a huge deal and a new chapter for me. They fixed me up, but there was still a challenge ahead and a lot of pain to go through.
“You realize you aren’t invincible when you go through something like that. You have to learn to be patient, take your time, go slow and follow the doctor’s orders, and that’s a whole new game for a guy like me. Somehow, I learned how to be patient, healed up in the proper amount of time, and now it’s time to go racing again. I couldn’t be more excited to get back behind the wheel of my Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro.”
Returning in Houston is favorable for Anderson in more ways than one. The four-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion earned two of his 74 national event wins at Royal Purple Raceway, and his teammate, KB Racing driver Jason Line, piloted his blue Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro to victory at the SpringNationals last year. To sweeten the package, Anderson will be driving the very same car that European Pro Stock champion Jimmy Alund, who kept the seat warm while he was away, wheeled to the winner’s circle just a week and a half ago at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.
“I’m excited to get back in the same car that Jimmy won with in Charlotte,” said Anderson. “The guys have done such a fantastic job with this car, and I don’t just mean Jason Line, Rob Downing and the entire crew that works on it; Jimmy has done a fantastic job of driving the car and also of helping the guys find a happy spot for that racecar to run in,” said Anderson.
“My hat’s off to the entire team and Jimmy Alund. That car is working very, very nicely, and I found that out firsthand yesterday when we made a few test runs. It’s like it’s on autopilot. It’s smooth as glass.
“To be honest with you, I can’t remember ever going to a race this happy, this positive and feeling this good. I guess it’s kind of a new lease on life for me; I rolled back my odometer so to speak. Now it’s time to get back to racing. That’s what we love, that’s where we feel at home.”
(Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster)