By: Brandon Mudd
Colton James “CJ” Greaves grew up enjoying the same things as other kids his age, including dirt-biking and hanging out with friends. Unlike his peers, however, who might have spent their childhood summers mowing lawns or hanging out at the mall, CJ has grown up racing in TORC: The Off-Road Championship.
Starting on his father’s team at age 14 with a run in Super Buggy, he won two titles in two years before graduating first to Pro Light and then Pro 2WD. Last season he doubled up, successfully defending the Pro 2WD championship, while also coming out on top in his rookie season in PRO 4×4. That made him the youngest driver ever to claim dual championship wins in the series.
Despite those accomplishments, the 2016 season will mark the first time he’ll be able to drink victory champagne: he turns 21 in June. And the young driver says he’s ready for another strong season in 2016 as he returns to competition with matching red number-one plates on his Pro 2WD and Pro 4×4 trucks.
“I don’t put any more pressure on myself as the defending champ,” he said. “If anything, it just gives me more motivation to prove why I’m running the red backgrounds. It’s something to work for and work towards all year. I mean, I’ve been here, I’ve done it, I know what it takes, I know what we’ve got to do and the same goes for my team. They want to go out in Pro 2WD and PRO 4×4 and have those red backgrounds. We can’t give up any inch from what we did the year before in order to win the title again.”
But in an unusual twist, his biggest rival for the Pro 4×4 title is his father, three-time champion Johnny Greaves. It’s a thrilling battle that brings out the best in both drivers. Their mutual respect allows them to push that much harder when they’re racing door-to-door.
“It’s just awesome when we know we can slide by each other going 90 mph through the turn and I might touch you or slide into you, but it’s going to be in control,” said the elder Greaves. “We’re not going to smack the tires, we’re not going to do anything intentional and I’m fine with that. Even if one day he comes underneath and the truck breaks traction and knocks me out of the way or whatever, I can live with that because I truly believe that he wouldn’t do anything that would take me out and I would never do anything to take him out.”
And, adds the younger Greaves, racing together on the same team gives both father and son some extra incentive to race clean. “He’s not going to go in there and pile drive you, and you know you’re not going to do the same thing to him because you’re going back to the same pit,” said CJ Greaves.
Even so, don’t expect this father-son duo to give each other any breaks when the championship action resumes May 27 -28 on the Dirt Track at Texas Motor Speedway. CJ Greaves denied his father a Pro 4×4 three-peat last season and the elder Greaves says he’s ready to come back strong in 2016 to beat his young protégé.
“I have a new fire lit. I’m not going to say that in the past the competition wasn’t there, but I could look down the line and say, ‘I can beat all these guys. If everything is good, I can beat all these guys and I’m not going to let them win,’” said Greaves. “Now, I’ve got CJ sitting there and I’m like: this guy is going to take my best day to beat him. He’s the best guy out there right now. He really is.”