July 1, 2013

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Bristol Resident Stanley Greger Opens Up About His Racing Career

Stan with Don "Whimpy" Kinney
Phil Hoyt Photo

By Brian Danko, Staff Writer
The New Britain Herald & Bristol Press

Photos Courtesy of Tom Ormsby
SpeedwayLineReport.com

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO FOR FULL SIZE

When one talks of the legendary drivers of the Riverside Park Speedway, there are many names that will be brought into the conversation.

There will be names like George Lombardo, Eddie Flemke, Sr., Buddy Krebs, Bob Polverari and of course, the all time winner at the speedway in Reggie Ruggiero.

But one name that would also be included on the list would be that of Stanley Greger, better known during his racing days at both the Plainville Stadium and Riverside Park as ‘Stash’. Back then, Greger enjoyed going fast, now he enjoys the slow life.

“I really enjoy cruising.” Stan said recently from his home in Bristol. “I really enjoy the laid back atmosphere and just doing what you want when you want.”

But it was his fast times, that made him a household name in the central Connecticut area from the early 1970’s to the mid 1990’s.

When asked how a driver, who would become a three time champion at the demanding quarter mile in Agawam, Ma. got his start, he replied that was his neighbor and childhood friend, Clyde McLeod of Southington. McLeod still today is in racing working for Stewart-Haas Racing out of North Carolina.

“Clyde and I lived about five houses from each other and there was this garage we’d go to. When we got older, Clyde’s father would bring us to the track.” Stan said.

His first involvement was with McLeod driving in a demo derby at Plainville Stadium and it ended just as quickly as it started.

“You know, for a demo, they line the cars up facing the wall and then wave the green flag. Well as soon as he waved it, I took off and hit this car so hard, it broke my seat and I am sitting where the back seat would be, naturally, I was done.” Stan said laughing about his first encounter behind the wheel.

He then drove a novice car and even a figure 8 car at Riverside before he strapped into his first modified.

“Wimpy" Kinney and I bought a complete car minus the motor and transmission. We started at the Plainville in the % car. My first race, I bent the front end but somehow, I won the second race and from there I was hooked.”

The year was 1971 and Greger would be named the Rookie of the Year at Plainville, beating out Fred Alkas of Berlin.

Plainville was always a very difficult track to figure out and those who did, naturally, did quite well while others struggled to get a handle on the flat track.


Stan at Plainville Stadium 1971
Steve Kennedy Photo

“I guess I just adapted well to Plainville. We always ran well there and we had a good set up for it.” Stan said thinking about his friend who has since passed away.

But like most young drivers, Greger wanted to go fast this lap and faster each lap after that but he wasn’t getting the results and quite often found himself in the infield with a wrecked race car.

“I remember Eddie Flemke, Sr. and George Lombardo coming over to me and saying ‘look kid, you’re fast, but you need to slow down.’” That was the best advice he ever got.

Before leaving Plainville Stadium, one year he and Dave Alkas split winning the races between themselves winning all but one race.


1975 finds Stash in the Rich "Jarb" Beaudoin 500 at Riverside Park

In 1977, Greger made the move to Riverside Park and drove the Jarb Beaudoin 500 modified; one of the top modifieds rides around.

When asked why he left Plainville, he said for a better opportunity.

“Going to Riverside was like racing our baby Daytona. With the high banks, you could get going pretty good. It was a real tough track, especially with the local drivers like Bob Polverari, Charlie Glazier, Lou Toro, it was tough.”

But Greger settled in and earned the first of his 38 career wins on August 5, 1978. It was also the year that he would capture his first modified championship at the track known affectionately as ‘The Park’.

When Riverside Park Speedway went from being sanctioned by United Racing to the more popular NASCAR sanctioned, Greger and all of the Park regulars knew the competition was about to get tougher as that brought in drivers such as Richie Evans, Jerry Cook and Geoff Bodine.

“I think with NASCAR, naturally, it made the racing better and it made us better. I mean after a race when you beat Richie, Cook and Bodine, you knew you did something.” Stan said. “I really enjoyed racing with them.”
 
When asked if he got to know Evans outside of the track, Greger replied, “Oh yeah, every week after the races we’d go to the bar across the street and that was where everybody got to know each other.”

“At the race track, Richie and I would say hello but he was all business but at the bar, he’d open up and you could talk racing.”

Later Greger moved into the Billy Simons #9 cars, and there he earned another title. “Billy always had good stuff. I did a lot of racing with him and then with Bill Pelly.”

In all, Greger was a feature winner at Plainville, Riverside Park, Stafford Motor Speedway, Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire and even finished 5th in one of the Thompson 300 races that making the race, was just about as big as winning the race.

Greger also raced at the Martinsville Speedway and New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.


Stan with car owner Billy Simons at "The Park"
Photographer Unknown

“I had so many good times racing. I think the highlight would be the first Riverside Park championship. I think we finished inside the top five every week that year.”

As the decade turned from the 80’s to the 90’s, the car counts were falling and the good rides were getting scarce, it was then Greger knew the end of his modified career was nearing.

“The field of cars was getting lean and you couldn’t get a good ride, besides it was too expensive for someone to run a modified.”

Since Greger left the racing scene, he hasn’t been to many races but still watches the races on television but maybe might be off to watch some local racing.


The Bill Pelly #10 at Riverside
Dave Pardi Photo

Since Greger left the racing scene, he hasn’t been to many races but still watches the races on television but maybe might be off to watch some local racing.

When Greger left the sport, he left hundreds of fans behind who knew what a true gentleman on the track and off was really all about.

And while he may not be racing, Stash is still remembered as one of the best drivers at Plainville Stadium and of course, the Riverside Park Speedway.

Winning one title was hard enough but to win three certainly put him in elite status at the track known simply as ‘The Park.”

Stan Greger Thru The Years


Phil Hoyt Photo

Phil Hoyt Photo

Phil Hoyt Photo

Steve Kennedy Photo

Phil Hoyt Photo

Steve Kennedy Photo

Danny Pardi Collection

Danny Pardi Collection

Danny Pardi Collection
 
Danny Pardi Collection
 
 

Brian Danko has been covering Auto Racing for over 30 years for various magazines & and racing papers including Area Auto Racing News. His weekly column can be seen "In The Print Editions" of  The New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.

 

Copyright © 2012-2013  Brian Danko & SpeedwayLineReport.com, New Britain Herald & The Bristol Press.