Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
Greg Ray Bio
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Residence: Plano, Texas
Height: 6-0 Weight: 160
Children: Winston, Simon
- 1999 IRL IndyCar Series champion
- 2000 Indianapolis 500 pole winner
- Has won 13 poles, an IRL record
- Formed his own team, Access Motorsports, with Honda power for the 2003 season
- Has won five IRL races
Greg Ray says it's all about effort.
Ray is hanging tough as the IRL IndyCar Series season reaches its conclusion. He matched his best finish of the season - eighth - in August at Gateway International Raceway, and since then has recovered from a crash that kept him out of a race in September at Chicagoland Speedway.
Despite operating on a budget that's a fraction of those of the IRL's heavyweight teams, Ray has finished eighth three times this season, and started fifth in June at Richmond International Raceway.
"It's possible for a small team to go out there and kick the tail of the larger team - if they get everything right," Ray said. "But day-in and day-out, the larger team has a huge advantage. They have the top engineers, crew chiefs, mechanics and drivers, plus the vast financial resources. The big teams can have a failure in one area and nobody knows it. They can cover it up with their strengths in other areas."
Ray's strength has been perseverance. As co-owner of Access Motorsports, he chose Honda power, landed the TrimSpa sponsorship, and took off in his No. 13 car. He's steadily improved throughout the season, and stands 15th in the IRL standings heading into the finale Oct. 12 at Texas Motor Speedway.
His results have been remarkable considering the financial differences between Ray's team and larger outfits. The 1999 IRL champion, Ray has done little testing this season in an effort to hold down costs. When he crashed during practice at Chicagoland, he didn't have a backup car and had to sit out the race.
Ray's effort is a reflection of the changing face of the Indy Racing League.
"It's been a painful change," Ray said. "It puts pressure on the smaller teams and the people who have been in the IRL since day one. But the fact that you have more manufacturers to choose from gives you more options to compete with them. It's good and it's bad from the small team's perspective. The change has made the IRL more mainstream and gives a lot of attention to drivers and teams. It's a mainstream change, yet it definitely hurts the old-school teams and drivers."
Ray, who turned a remote-control device for miniblinds into a personal fortune in his early 20s, understands exactly what sponsors want. They expect value for their advertising dollar.
"People are watching more closely where they're spending their money, and they expect different things, too," Ray said. "Five years ago, people would spend $100,000 and want you to think they were spending a million. Now they spend a million and want you to act like they spent $100,000. It's a different time."
A time that, for Greg Ray, gets better every day.