By BILL FOLEY
Jeff Gromis is a member of the Dirt Track Digest “family” and he has a long involvement in the sport dating back to the 1970’s.
He has done everything including writing, photography and more while even co-owning for a time Keystone Auto News based in Reading, Pa.
Gromis agreed to go Behind the Scenes for our exclusive series.
Dirt Track Digest: How did you become involved with racing?
Jeff Gromis: “I was in the stands at Reading as a baby before I can remember. Dad crewed for Pauly Blatt and Bobby ‘Bup’ Berdon. I had an uncle who raced and another uncle who was track-side on the fire truck.”
DTD: What do you do in racing and how did it come about?
JG: “I do photography. Simply met Mike Mallett after shooting for over 40 years for Gater Racing and Keystone Auto newspapers.”
DTD: What is your favorite part of the job?
JG: “I wrote and did photo work for years, but I just love doing photo work now. I just find it so much more rewarding personally.”
DTD: What is your least favorite part of the job?
JG: “I can’t travel quite as much or far now as I did when I was young. I am now 63. Also my legs don’t take hours standing on the infield as well as they used to.”
DTD: Are you a fan and how hard is it to be one in relation to what you do?
JG: “I am a fan, but I’ve gotta be an overall race fan. I still am a track official (since the 1980’s) and I just need to be neutral.”
DTD: For how many years have you worked at tracks and what tracks have you worked at?
JG: “I do not consider my time as a writer/photographer as work, but I have been doing it since around 1973 or ’74. I’ve done press work at well over 60 tracks. I have been an official working at tracks since 1975 when I started doing PR work at Big Diamond. I have worked in various capacities at probably 15 tracks and am the NASCAR Chief Stewart at Grandview currently.”
DTD: What are some of your best memories?
JG: “I spent a full season in 1982 in Los Angeles at Ascot Park every week plus about a half dozen tracks from Calistoga to Manzanita.”
DTD: What are some of your toughest memories?
JG: “At Reading seeing Mike Grbac’s fatal crash right in front of me and at Canyon (CA) watching 410 sprint in terrible dust when I saw Johnny Anderson in so serious crash that they stopped the show, told us he passed away and sent us all home. It was bad and it was a really awful feeling, then two days later I found out they some how saved him on the way to the hospital and he was still with us.”
DTD: Why do you keep doing what you do?
JG: “It has always been part of my life. It is a nice balance,… a nice get-away from my full time job as a Mechanical Engineer. I am currently the Executive Director of Facilities and Campus Services at Eastern University.”
DTD: Was your family involved with racing ?
JG: “I mentioned my father and uncles involvement. Now, my daughter assists me as an official at Grandview and does some photo work. She has a BA from Towson University in Fine Arts – Photography.”
DTD: Who influenced you in regards to racing and why?
JG: “Probably my dad, Jay. Everyone at the track knew him as ‘Tuffy.’ He stopped working on cars when I began remembering the races and he took me to many tracks, some that I can’t even remember. A few, like Langhorne, Hatfield and the like I can’t include on tracks I have been at because I cannot remember being there.
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