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Larry Ott: Grigsby finds success across the border

Early on Sunday afternoons Paul Grigsby is busy as a U.S. customs officer stationed at the Peace Bridge.

After 4 p.m., roles are reversed. Grigsby, now off-duty, must wait his turn in the customs line, present documentation and answer questions so he can enter Canada to race another night at Port Colborne’s Humberstone Speedway, where he is the defending RUSH Late Model champion.

Grigsby, of Springville, finds a lot of irony in his customs officer-versus-racer role when it comes to those weekly Sunday border crossings.

“I’m just another person when I don’t have my uniform on, just another average Joe Blow,” laughed Grigsby, 41. “I am the person who now sits in my car and wonders why it is taking so long to go through the customs line when earlier in the day I didn’t care how long it took for people in my line to get through my customs window because I have a job to do and they’ll just have to wait.”

Unfortunately for his fellow RUSH competitors, Grigsby had no problems crossing the Canadian border last season. He claimed a pair of late-season victories on his way to the Humberstone title, winning by a three-point margin over Jorden Peters.

Grigsby said that changing track conditions brought on by the seasonal weather changes had a lot to do with his 2014 Humberstone campaign.

“We did a lot at the end to save the championship by winning those two races,” Grigsby said. “We got the point lead after the second week and we had a pretty good lead but then the track changed and also Jorden got on a good roll.

“In the early season, when the evenings are cooler and the sun goes down a little sooner, the track keeps its moisture and that’s when I seem to do well. Then the track became summerlike during the summer months and it was dry and slick because the weather is hotter and the sun is out longer. I didn’t do a good job of adjusting to the changing conditions.”

As the later stages of the season rolled around and cooler conditions and shorter days returned, the point race played right back into Grigsby’s hands. He earned two consecutive wins, the first on Aug. 24 and the second on Sept. 7. When Peters won the season-ending race on Sept. 21 and Grigsby recorded a third-place run, Grigsby emerged as champion. Grigsby has not been as successful this season. He stands in 12th place in the RUSH standings, 720 points behind the leader, Dennis Lunger, who has won eight of the 10 races in the division.

Grigsby is the son of retired asphalt racer Dan Grigsby. Dan is still on the team along with Paul’s brothers Mike (crew chief), David and Matt. Family friends Tim Bruce and David Cherry are also on the Ed Carley Motorsports-sponsored team. Also offering assistance at the races are Paul’s wife Stacy, and the Grigsbys’ grandmother, Louise Grigsby.

Paul began driving in 1993 in the old Challenger class on the asphalt at Holland Motorsports Complex. After two years Paul turned to the dirt tracks, finding a home in the Street Stocks at Perry Speedway.

“We had a couple of wins at Perry after I figured out that driving on asphalt and driving on dirt are two very different driving styles,” Grigsby said.

Paul has remained on dirt ever since. He drove for many years on the traveling BRP Can-Am 360 Late Model Series, where he won and finished in the top 10 in points each season. He joined the Super Late Model ranks in 2009 and added the Crate Late Models in 2012. Then a serious accident necessitated a career decision.

“In 2012 I was racing two different cars, my Super Late Model and my crate car,” Grigsby said. “I had a bad wreck at McKean County that season in the crate car and I lost that car. I was down to just one car. I had a decision to make. Do I keep going in my Super Late Model or put a crate motor in that car and go crate racing?

“I decided that the Super Late Model was too expensive, and I also didn’t have the time to work on the Super Late Model any longer. So I went with the Crate Late Model.”

Grigsby said a good engine for a Super Late Model averages $30,000 while a top-flight crate engine is about $10,000. Also, the tire bill is quite a bit higher for Super Late Models.

“When you show up to run a Super Late Model event you have to have enough of a tire inventory in the trailer for about six different tire compounds with different tread patterns. In the crate car we can only run two compounds, so less tires.

Time is another factor. It takes about four hours to customize a set of four Super Late Model tires for racing. “With the crate car, I just mount two tires, slap them on the car and go racing,” Grigsby said.

Pit stops

• The George Decker Memorial 100 for the NASCAR Pro Modifieds/Sportsman runs this Saturday at Holland Motorsports Complex.

• Local attorney/drag racer Paul Cambria beat fellow drag racer D.J. Raiser in a special grudge match held July 17 at Lancaster. Cambria won so as part of the deal as loser, Raiser donated $1,000 to the Kid’s Variety Club Telethon.