Hometown: Milton, VT
Division: Maplewood/Irving Late Models
Car: Richard Green Trucking #16VT Chevrolet Impala
2017 Season: Finished 4th in Late Model points
What are your favorite non-racing hobbies?
Let me think here – do I have any? I have a lot of things I’m interested in, but I’ve also got kids that keep me really busy, and I do a lot of side work and projects on top of my full-time job, so I don’t really get to do a lot of the things I really like to do. When I finally get a free moment, I usually just sit down. (Laughs)
What do you do for work?
I’ve been an electrician for the last 24 years. I wire houses, condos, and other residential buildings. We cover a lot of areas – Burlington is our main location and we do a lot of work there, but we travel a little bit as well.
What are your current racing plans for 2018? Do you have any goals?
We’re going to concentrate on the Thunder Road schedule again. That’s really our main focus. I’m hoping that a few other opportunities pop up as far as maybe an ACT race or two or something like that. I’ve also been lucky enough to drive the Hallstrom Motorsports PASS car a little bit, so I’m kind of hoping I get that chance again to run a race or two with those guys, depending on what they decide they’re going to do. Evan is working his way up the ladder getting some seat time, so eventually Evan will be the one taking that seat over. Until then, I guess I’m the lucky one right now, so I’m hoping that continues.
What was the highlight of the 2017 season for you?
Boy, I don’t know. We didn’t really have many highlights last year. We had a really good car at the Milk Bowl – I thought last year was the best chance I’ve had yet to possibly win the Milk Bowl. But it all went away in the first segment. We snapped the Panhard bar late in the segment, and that pretty well ended our day from an overall standpoint. But we were really, really strong. And I hate to say it, but that was probably the highlight of our season. We had a real string of bad luck in the middle of the season for about 4 or 5 weeks. We kind of went numb there for a little while – we got in a couple wrecks, and then we wrecked our primary car, so we went to our back-up car, and we struggled with it a little bit. We really didn’t start running strong again until we brought the primary car back late in the season. We didn’t win any races – we just had a mediocre season.
It seems strange to say that finishing fourth in points was a mediocre year. Were expectations just different after 2016, or was something else going on?
It was different coming back from winning the championship. In 2016, we were gung-ho, and I just felt in 2016 that it was our destiny to win it. Coming back last year, I think we kind of felt that we were going to be as strong again, and we were strong, but I think we were off a little bit mentally. Coming into this season, I’m feeling great – I’ve got a good feeling about this season. I think we should run pretty hot this season, as long as we can avoid the wrecks. That’s the biggest thing – you can’t have too many mistakes if you’re going to win the title at Thunder Road.
We’re making a few upgrades to the car, and I think if we can just pick up a little more speed, we’ll be good. Bobby Therrien was really hot last year – he was going to be tough to beat regardless of what we did. We let a few others get by us during our streak of bad luck, but we took it well. Fourth place is not bad – we finished fourth in 2015, too. But we’re going to try and win the thing this year. I’d like to win one of those bigger races too. I’d love to win the Labor Day Classic – we’ve finished second in that race the last two years. I think I’ve got three second-places in the Memorial Day Classic too. So we’re really close – we just haven’t been able to win one of them. And I’d love to win the Milk Bowl too. If it works out, maybe we can pull it off.
How did you get started in racing?
Well of course my father Bobby raced, so it’s a family thing in that sense. But for me, it started when I had a couple friends the same age as me – Andrew Carey and Adam Maynard – whose families where involved in my father’s racing back in the day when we were kids. Both of those guys got Street Stocks in, I think, 1994. Those two started racing in that division, and seeing those guys get into the game was what gave me a kick in the butt to get going. It was something that I really had to do on my own – I wasn’t expecting my father or anybody else to build me a race car. We bought a car from George McRae, another guy who lives in Milton where I’m from. He actually gave me a car that he had sitting out in his junkyard. My father helped me put a roll cage in it, and that was what got the whole thing going. The first place I ever went with it was Thunder Road, and we rolled in there totally clueless.
Both your dad and your uncle (Beaver) were two of the most prominent racers in the region for many years. What influence did that have on you?
I grew up watching them, and I was at the races a lot. I went to Catamount Stadium a lot as a kid and went to Thunder Road. But I was still a kid, so I was playing around at the race track along with watching the races. I guess the years I remember most were probably ’84 through ’87 – those were the years that stick in my mind for watching the racing back then. That was what a lot of people call the heyday, because there were some really big local names.
But racing is a tough deal. It’s not easy to get into. I’ve been really lucky that I had the last name – the Dragon name has definitely helped me along the way. But at the same time, it was something that I had to decide I was going to do, and I more or less had to do it on my own. I had some help – I had my cousin Brock, who was with me for many years, and some other guys on the crew who were a big part of the whole deal. But we had to do it on our own.
I’ve been lucky that I’ve been driving other people’s cars now for about the last 10 years. If it wasn’t for that, I’d have been out of the game 10 years ago, whether it’s my last name that has gotten me the opportunity to do that or the way I drive. I’ve always considered myself easy on equipment – well, maybe not always, but since I’ve started driving other people’s cars, the main priority for me has been bringing them home in one piece. That’ll keep you in a ride if you aren’t wrecking them every week.
How do you get involved with Richard Green Racing?
You’ll need some backstory for this one. Before Richard Green, I was driving for Mark Willoughby and Willoughby Motorsports out of Dover, NH. My father had been driving their Busch North car, and then they had gotten a Late Model that he had been driving a little bit, and it got the point where he was feeling like it was time for him to get done. Meanwhile, the deal that me and my cousin had been doing with our own stuff was really wearing us all out, and I finally just decided that enough was enough. And it just so happened that all of that was happening at the same time – my father was getting ready to call it quits, and Mark was looking for a driver, and it just worked out.
So I got myself in their Late Model car for a few races, and they also owned a PASS car that another guy was driving, and after a year with the team, they asked me if I was interested in driving the Pro Stock. That had always been a dream of mine to drive a Pro Stock, and I’m sure it was for a lot of other guys, too. A lot of the guys I had raced Late Models with all wanted to get a shot at a Pro Stock. But not everybody gets an opportunity to drive them – I was really lucky. And we did pretty well for a low-dollar team. I won a PASS race at Beech Ridge, and we had some pretty decent finishes, and it made me a better driver driving the PASS cars. Really, a lot of was just the guys you were lined up with on the grid. But stepping back down into a Late Model after building your confidence up in a Pro Stock just makes you better. It would do it for anybody – anybody who drove Pro Stock cars for a while would be better when they got back in a Late Model again.
Anyway, the Willoughby deal lasted for about five years, and right when they were getting ready to sell off their equipment and close the doors, Joe Becker called me up and asked me if I wanted to fill in for him with Richard Green when he had his shoulder problems. It’s funny how it worked out. I just went from one deal to the next to the next, and again, I was very lucky. It was timing more than anything. If it hadn’t been for Becker calling me at the beginning of the 2014 season, who knows what I would have done that year? Who knows what I’d be doing right now? That could have been the end of it for me. The way I’ve looked at racing for the last 10 years is that you do the best you can and give it everything you’ve got just to try and hang on to a ride. That’s how I’ve been doing it for a while.
Do you have anyone that you consider a role model or that you take after?
My father. He’s a real straight shooter and a very good guy, for sure. My early years, I was quite a hellion (troublemaker). Maybe through all my teens, actually. When I finally started racing and growing up a little bit, he was the one that I looked up to. I thought that if I could be like him, I’d be doing pretty well.
Can you tell me more about your family?
I have two daughters. Julia is 16 and Hayley is 14. Teenage girls are a real handful, I’ll tell you that right now. (Laughs)
What is your biggest life accomplishment so far?
2016 “King of the Road”. As far as racing goes, that’s definitely my biggest accomplishment, without a doubt. I’ve won a few races over the years, and those were great, but to win a track championship at Thunder Road was pretty special. I’d love to get another one. (Laughs)
What’s your dream vacation?
Here we are still talking about racing, but I’ve always wanted to go to the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Is that a vacation? I’ve actually always dreamed of driving in it. I love road racing, and I’ve always wanted to road race. I’ve never gotten a chance to, but I always thought that I would have made a good road racer. I still watch the Rolex 24 every year. As far as an actual vacation goes, I don’t know. Some tropical island, maybe. I don’t do a lot of vacations. How about a tropical island where there’s road racing?
If someone turned on the radio/media player in your car, what would they most likely be listening to?
I listen to a lot of different stuff. I’ve gone from the real hardcore stuff in the old days, to rap music, to classical music – everything but country music, I get into. I like Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, some of your softer and easier stuff, and I used to be into the real head-banging stuff back when I was younger. We used to go to a lot of concerts and clubs and get right into the mosh pits. Those were the good old days. You don’t see much of that anymore. But really, anything but country. I don’t like listening to people whine, and there’s a lot of whining in country music. (Laughs)
If you were asked to appear on a TV show or in a movie, which one would you want it to be and why?
I’d love to be on Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den with an invention. Beyond that, I don’t know. I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore. What’s that TV show where they’ve got the hot rod dragster cars – “Street Outlaws”? Maybe that one. Also, I’ve really always thought that “Deadliest Catch” with those guys catching crabs would be a wicked cool way to make a living.
What sports do you follow or play?
I’ve been watching a lot of NHL hockey this winter, which is something new for me. I’ve never really followed hockey, but this winter I’ve been paying attention to it. I’ve been watching it on Saturday nights on “Hockey Night in Canada”. I’ve always loved watching boxing as well. I don’t get to watch a lot of it, but that’s one of the sports that’s always caught my attention. I don’t really follow baseball or football, or any of your ball sports, really. I don’t even really watch NASCAR anymore, to be honest with you. I work too much.
Who are your biggest supporters at the track?
Richard Green is by far my biggest supporter. My father almost never misses a race; if he does, there’s a pretty good reason for it. I’ve got a couple guys that have been going to Thunder Road since I started there – Howard Beaupre, Gary Caldwell, and Gary’s wife. They’re friends of mine, and they are there every single week. And they’re always hooting and hollering and cheering for me; they’re leading my fans for sure.
Who or what has had the greatest influence on your racing career?
I go back to my father again. Racing is tough; you spend a lot of valuable time on it. You actually almost want to say yourself in a way, because you give up so much. You give up a lot of time that you could be working and making money, or spending with your kids, or just doing other things. Everybody that’s doing this is putting an awful lot of time into it. You’ve just to keep grinding and keep pushing. Maybe it doesn’t happen every year, but you always go through lulls where you’re thinking to yourself, “What am I doing this for?” In racing, there’s a lot of lulls, and you get a few highs here and there. It’s a tough game for sure.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
This is the first thing that popped into my head. My father was on the radio with me a long time when I was racing. He spotted for me a few years here and there. So he’d be on during a heat race or another time when you’re trying to get into a qualified spot. And he would always tell me on the radio and remind me, “Don’t get into the guy in front of you, because you’re just slowing both of you down.” Maybe it’s not the best advice I’ve ever received, but when it comes to racing, that’s pretty good advice. You’re digging as hard as you can, and maybe the guy in front of you is slowing you down, but you’ve got to stay out of him. You can’t touch him, because you’re going to screw him up and you’re both going to go backwards.
Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
Geez, five years. Who knows if I’ll even be racing in five years? I don’t really know. I’ve always said that when I get done racing, I’m going to build myself an Enduro car or two and put together an Enduro schedule. Whether or not I actually do it, we’ll see. As far as work, I’d like to get out working for myself again. I was self-employed for 7 or 8 years, and then the economy took a downturn in 2008, and things really tightened up. When that happened, I decided that I needed to pull the plug and get myself a job, so that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. I’ve been working on the books for a couple different companies, and it’s good, but I just really enjoyed working by myself for many different reasons. There’s more freedom, the money is better, and it just peps you up a little bit when it’s all you.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would definitely build myself a couple of road racing cars. That’s one thing for sure. And if it was really big bucks that I won, then I’d chase some of the bigger races. It probably would be the dumbest waste of money ever, but I probably would do that. You always say, “Oh, I’d build myself a couple Pro Stocks and a couple Late Models, and a couple of these, and a couple of those”, so who knows. Maybe I would just buy a house on the beach somewhere and relax, too. That’s a tough question.