Most testosterone packed, drag racing men are ultra-competitive and look for any opportunity they can find to flex their automotive muscles. From every direction on the compass, drag strips have historically been a refuge for men wanting to go fast and not be under the watchful eye of their wife.
Greg Mitchell has re-written the rule book and couldn't be happier. Mitchell bought his wife of 27-years, Valorie, a pristine 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air drag car the couple plans to run at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Castrol GTX Friday Night Drags Series. To date, Valorie has inched countless men to the stripe, including Greg.
"We have met four times in either the quarter-finals or the finals and I have lost to her every time, including one at AMS," Greg said laughing. "But we got into drag racing cars so we could do something together and we absolutely love it."
Friends since their early teens, Greg and Valorie have raced just about everything on two wheels, four wheels and even water.
"I used to race drag boats and Harley-Davidson drag bikes," Greg said. "Valorie would actually work on the vehicles, so we were still together, but now we actually compete together, which is a lot more fun."
Valorie has no complaints Greg traded his life jacket and motorcycle leathers for two doors and a full roll cage.
"Drag boat racing is just too dangerous," said Valorie, who has been clocked at 140 mph in the eighth-mile at AMS. "People think it's not that dangerous because you are racing on water. That is just simply not the case."
Although the couple has owned numerous drag cars, they seem to have settled on two of the nicest cars to ever make a pass on Atlanta Motor Speedway's drag strip.
Greg simply described Valorie's orange and white 1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air as "rough" when they purchased it, but Valorie could only wait one day before she made a pass with it. She raced the car several times before its restoration until she blew the engine.
"The engine wouldn't turn over and she thought it had a dead battery," Greg said. "I saw a connecting rod sticking out the side of the engine block and I knew we had bigger problems.
"We wanted the car to look as street legal as possible," Greg said. "The windows roll up and the head lights and tail lights work. The bumpers are fiberglass, but we painted them to look like chrome and I custom mixed the orange paint."
Several years, countless upgrades and a tire-scorching big-block Chevrolet engine later, the duo has massaged the bow-tie into not only a nightly contender, but a pristine fan favorite.
Greg takes a big-block powered black 1970 Chevrolet Nova to the line that was built specifically to race in the same class as Valorie's drag car so the couple could race together. To date, the high-octane pair has amassed more than 20 final-round wins and counting over the last nine years, including one at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2006.
"We have raced at more than 20 tracks as far away as Houston, Texas and Atlanta Motor Speedway is definitely a first-class facility," Greg said. "We are really looking forward a full summer of racing here at AMS."
The owners of McDonough RV and Forsyth Camping Center, Greg and Valorie have developed a following from their employees and friends.
"Racing at AMS has turned into a Friday night ritual for all of us," Greg said. "All of our employees and friends come out here and support us and that really makes it a lot more fun. It is a great atmosphere."
Both Greg and Valorie plan on racing for years to come, but Greg has one order of business in the near future.
"I plan on going to Roy Hill's drag racing school real soon so I can start beating her off the line," Greg said laughing.
The 2007 Castrol GTX Friday Night Drags Series will run May 11, 18, June 1, 8, 22, 29, August 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and September 7. Practice drag runs begin at 6:40 p.m. and gates open at 7 p.m. Show N' Shine car show judging begins at 8:30 p.m. with the Championship drag runs starting at 9:10 p.m.
For more information about Castrol GTX Friday Night Drags, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211