This article originally appeared in Pit Talk, the official publication of New England Region, SCCA Inc. It is published online and available in print free of charge to all members of the Region. View more great Pit Talk content here.
Volunteer grid worker Greg Holt is a great example of someone whose passion for race cars started early in life. He shares an old family photo showing him sitting in the cockpit of an older cousin’s micro midget sprint car. Greg’s father, Henry, can be seen holding onto the roll bar, like he is worried Greg might take off! Another more recent family photo shows Greg as a young father and playing with oldest son Eric’s slot car racing set. Many of us catch the fever young in life and it never leaves us. We just want to have #FunWithCars!
For those unfamiliar with grid workers, they are the ones wearing white helping position the race cars in starting order before each on-track session. Volunteer grid workers provide valuable service by checking driver safety gear and verifying each car displays a current-event tech inspection sticker. They look at driver harness belts and HANS straps to ensure they are fastened, check that helmet and gloves are on, window nets are up, and (for open cockpit cars) that the driver is wearing arm restraints. As race cars pull away from the false grid, a grid worker gives that final reminder to drivers without eye protection to lower their visor.
Greg is a native and current resident of Danbury, CT. He has lived there all of his sixty eight years and works as a Maintenance Mechanic for the Danbury Housing Authority. Greg and his wife Betty raised three sons: Eric, Jay, and Danny. During Jay and Danny’s high school years, the couple fostered two boys. All four kids attended school and played Pop Warner football together until they all went off to college. One can only imagine how hyper-active and crazy hungry these growing boys must have been. It’s been said foster parents have big families and bigger hearts! Unfortunately, their youngest son Danny died in 2010 while attending college, a victim of cancer. In the years after losing Danny to this horrible disease, Greg has organized benefits to help raise money for StupidCancer.org, a 501(c)3 nonprofit geared toward ending isolation and building community for those touched by young adult cancer.
Greg and Betty have always enjoyed watching the races at Lime Rock Park (LRP). Once their kids were grown, the couple joined LRP’s RightHanders volunteer group. In the beginning, RightHanders were unpaid volunteers who helped primarily at LRP’s big spectator weekends. RightHanders escort guests on paddock tours, facilitate driver autograph sessions, help with various pre-race festivities, and assist at the media center and in the winner’s circle. At first Greg and Betty were assigned to sell event programs from a crowded booth, but that quickly became boring. Betty subsequently opted out, but at future events Greg helped by hanging banners around the track and shuttling guests around by golf cart. He remembers the best part of the job was carrying guests who had never before visited LRP. Greg offered new guests a quick tour, and occasionally was asked to be shown the best places around the track for spectating. Greg explains how it was fun driving over the bridge, coming to a stop, and pausing just long enough for a big pack of thundering race cars to drive under the bridge. Greg says, “Young kids, especially, got so excited when they hear the car’s loud exhausts coming and feel the air vibrate and bridge rumble as speeding cars raced underneath them.”
While volunteering at LRP, Greg noticed the people out on track wearing white uniforms and asked others, “Who are they and what are they doing?” Other RightHanders told Greg about the SCCA corner workers and suggested he join the club if he wanted to get closer to the action. Greg recalls his cousin Leslie, who years earlier introduced Greg to sports car racing at LRP, was a SCCA corner worker flagging at area tracks for more than a decade. Greg surfed the internet and joined the club online at scca.com.
Words by James Ray