Greg's first memory of a race car was of his dad’s jalopy at 5 or 6 years old. A light blue number P51 with a picture of a lap dog on the side. It was from Bill Purdy Ford in Shelbina, MO. His ad was the promoter, and he vividly remembers sitting on his lap while he was packing the track. And so, the hook was set.
Through high school, Greg worked at a service station. After high school, he went to Linn Technical College in Linn, Missouri, in their Automotive Technology program graduating on the Dean’s list. During the summers he worked as a mechanic in Maywood, Missouri at Evens repair. This was a rural shop doing a lot of work with diesel engines. The shop's fuel pump test stand was Greg's first experience with running a PTO dyno meter and tractor pulling along with a lot of street racing and working on cars on the side.
After graduating from Linn Tech, Greg went on to Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Missouri to finish his Bachelor’s degree. His goal was to be able to teach auto mechanics in a Vocational School. While at Maryville he started working at Rupp Automotive as a counterman. After obtaining a teaching certificate, Greg taught Auto Mechanics for a while. Eventually leaving to work in the management training program at Big A Auto Parts in Lincoln, Nebraska, Greg met Marty Bassett who was the store manager, and Bob Nickolite who was one of the regional managers. He stayed around to work there for several years. Marty left and moved to Grand Island to run a Big A store there and eventually talked Greg into moving to Grand Island and running it for a couple of years.
In August 1982, Greg started working for Speedway Motors. In those days, Greg recalls, you did whatever needed to be done. There were just 4 of them; Bill Smith, Joyce Smith, Bill Franklyn, and Greg Nicol answering the phones, writing orders, pulling them, and waiting on the counter. Right away at Speedway Greg started working with Carson Smith on the Speedway Motors Sprint car team. The next year he started building the engines for the house car plus a few on the side. They had some good success with Lloyd Beckman driving. After a couple of years, the team started working with Don Droud JR and the number 87 car. Greg kept on building the engines and tuning them at the track. After Bill surprised Carson and the team with a new Trostel sprint car, they were racing 360’s at Eagle and Midwest on a weekly basis and a few traveling shows.
In 1987 a new Indy car series was starting up called the American Indy Car Series. Carson and Jason Smith were going to field a car and hired Robbie Unser to drive it. Greg was hired by the series as the Technical Director. This series would take a year or two old Indy cars and convert them to Small Block Chevy’s and run on both road and oval courses around the United States, Canada, and Mexico. With photography being one of Greg's hobbies, he captured many pictures of the Indy cars and supplied them to Speed Sport News and other racing publications. He didn't stop there, branching out into work for the Speedway Motors Pikes Peak Team and Robbie Unser.
In January 1996, Greg left Speedway and moved to Phoenix, AZ. to manage sales for Total Seal Piston Rings. While at Total Seal, Greg worked with all types of racing teams developing new products, managing sponsorships, and developing a larger catalog.
In November 1997, Greg made another move to Automotive Performance Group in Tempe, Arizona. First working at Klein Engines as the Sales Manager, he worked with many forms of racing including ASCS and World of Outlaws sprint cars, along with IRL Indy car teams on the national level. Several mergers, one of which with Royal Purple Racing Oil, expanded Greg's role.
When Klein’s closed, Greg moved to Denver, Colorado, and ran MadCap racing. A parts store and engine shop, MadCap did a lot of engines for professional racers competing in all classes of drag racing and asphalt late models. Greg worked with both National and Regional teams. In 2001, MadCap had to move because the city of Denver wanted the property for a skateboard park. The owner did not want to keep the operation as large as it was so Greg and his wife bought out the inventory, starting Nicol Performance. Opening in June 2001, Nicol Performance mainly serviced customers along with the front range of the Rockies. Nicol Performance developed a 6-blade tire siper which became popular in midgets, sprint, late model, motorcycle, and other dirt classes.
Bill Smith bought Nicol Performance out in December 2003, and Greg returned to Speedway Motors. At that time, he was managing Speedway Motors racing sponsorships and developing a new Open Wheel catalog with the goal of being able to build a World of Outlaws quality car out of the catalog. This brought many new lines into Speedway Motors and we also developed a lot of new parts. The first mailing of this catalog was May 2004.
Today, Greg is responsible for the Racing catalog, Open Wheel catalog, all racing products, and most of our engines and engine parts. He has helped to develop many new products over the years including a lot of safety product items during his career. When Speedway Motors purchased the Bell soft goods line 10 years ago, Greg was assigned the manager.