For 17 years, Mark Green competed in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, gaining an extensive racing knowledge that he’s now sharing with the sport’s next generation.
During the summer months he works with his son, Tyler, on his Legends car and occasionally sits behind the wheel. Year-round, he’s in his third year at Rev Racing where he’s the crew chief for 25-year-old NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver Ryan Gifford, a member of NASCAR’s diversity program.
Gifford, who’s now in his fifth season at Rev Racing, broke into victory lane at Richmond last year and produced four top-5 and six top-10 finishes in 14 races with Green at the helm.
“I can help Ryan quite a bit from my experiences (because) K&N runs at several tracks that the Nationwide and Cup runs at,” Mark Green said. “When our group grew up racing, we basically had to build them from scratch, set them up, make the changes and drive them. It’s kinda like going back to when I started. What I’m doing now is setting them up and helping the driver.”
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The 54-year-old Green last competed in the Nationwide Series in 2011. He dealt with a start-and-park situation the last few years he raced, where a driver starts a race then parks the car in order to collect prize money while cutting expenses. The China Grove resident, who still possesses the competitive fire and the desire to drive, admitted that situation was “embarrassing” at times.
“But when you grow up a racer, it’s like a drug, you want to do it so bad you do things you shouldn’t do to continue to do it,” Green explained. “The start-and-park stuff, we would do that because we were always trying to attract sponsorship so we could go do some racing.”
Mark said his 24-year-old son was a “perfect example” of how the sport had changed. Tyler had raced in the Summer Shootout with Brandon McReynolds, Corey LaJoie and Chase Elliott, who were climbing the NASCAR racing ladder. However, the lack of a substantial sponsorship deal has kept Tyler in Legends where he was the Big Money victor three times. On the weekends, the Davidson resident spots for NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Aric Almirola and Nationwide Series competitor Dakoda Armstrong.
“Money has changed it so much,” Green said about the sport. “Now you don’t have grassroots young men or women doing the driving that have driven since they were 6 years old or mom and dad have been taking them to the race track forever and doing the racing like we did. Now you have kids that maybe have raced since they were young, but the more important thing now to kids is the financial part of it. If you have the financial part taken care of, being it a sponsor or a company that your family owns or family money backing you, it’s way, way easier to get to the top than if you have the talent to do it.”
Green believes the financial side of today’s sport has adversely affected the racing’s quality.
“NASCAR has always been a performance-driven sport where if you don’t perform you don’t stay,” Green explained. “But nowadays if you have a team in the Nationwide Series that doesn’t have the financial whereabouts to run the team, if they can get a young man or woman that has backing, they’re going to take the person that has the backing over someone that has the talent because their business has to have that money influx.”
The Green father-son duo will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Summer Shootout this year with Mark competing in a few Legends Masters Division events and Tyler running the Pro Series 10-race schedule.
“Tyler has been running the Legend cars for quite a while, so as much as I work on his, we had a spare car. It made sense to go run a few times a year and take care of that urge,” said Mark Green, who won two of the three races he ran last year. “It’s good fun for me and him to hang together. It’s that family thing we always do.”
Millbridge Speedway Summer Series Begins
Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, an Outlaw Kart track, ended its Bad Boy Buggies Winter Series event last month and quickly set its sights on the 2014 summer series. That series opens March 12 with the House of Fireworks. Gates open at 5 p.m., hot laps start at 7 p.m., qualifying is at 7:50 p.m., and racing begins at 8 p.m.