On any given Sunday (and the occasional Saturday evening) from February through November, you’ll find NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Greg Biffle enjoying the traditional pre-race festivities. The singing of the national anthem, accented by booming fireworks and the screaming Air Force jets flying in formation over the track, are part of what Biffle loves about his job. His dog, Foster, on the other hand, is less enthusiastic.
“He’s actually afraid of the national anthem,” Biffle confesses. Foster, a 12-years-young Boxer, has been Biffle’s constant companion since he was a puppy, riding shotgun to the track on race days, where he learned that “Oh, say, can you see,” precedes loud booms and explosions. “even if we’re at home and it comes on TV, he gets a little upset, because he associates it with the flyover and the fireworks. It scares the daylights out of him.”
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But Foster isn’t Biffle’s first pet — it all started with a German Shepherd
named Fritzy, who was found as an injured stray when Biffle was a child. “We got her fixed up, and from the day we brought her home, she never left my brother’s and my side. I can remember being 6 or 7 years old, riding our motorcycles for hours — and she’d be 100 feet behind us. She was the best dog in the world.”
You read that right — Biffle got his first motorcycle as a child. He inherited his need for speed — and his love for “anything that burnt gas and had wheels” — from his father, who first took him to the stock car races. “I was hooked. We went home and built a car, and I started racing.” He also started winning, and caught the eye of some very influential guys, including NASCAR Hall-of-Famer Benny Parsons. After proving himself in NASCAR’s lower racing divisions, Biffle began competing full-time in NASCAR’s top division in 2003.
In addition to Foster, Biffle and wife Nicole are pet parents to Gracie, Foster's 9-year-old daughter (Biffle's fellow NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., has her littermate, Killer) and 7-year-old Savannah, a mixed-breed rescue. "When we adopted her, she had sarcoptic mange, so she had to be quarantined from the other dogs," Biffle recalls.
The Biffles have first-paw experience dealing with sarcoptic mange in their pet family, but if it's a new condition to you, get the facts about this contagious and very itchy parasite.
It wasn’t the Biffles’ first brush with the veterinarian’s office. When Foster was 6, he developed a thyroid carcinoma, which was successfully removed. Today, he’s cancer-free, but still gets a CT scan at his checkup every three months. “He’s slowed down a little, and he’s got some arthritis, but the other dogs keep him on his toes,” Biffle says. As does Biffle’s 2-year-old daughter, Emma.
The Biffle family’s passion for pets goes beyond their own. “Living in North Carolina, we became aware that puppy mills are extremely common, and we saw a lot of cruelty cases. At that time, some of the other drivers were starting foundations, and we saw a void in the animal welfare world.” When they formed the Greg Biffle Foundation in 2005, their goal was to “harness the power of the NASCAR community to help animal shelters.” They started by putting together the NASCAR Pets Calendar, which is available online through NASCAR.com and the Greg Biffle Foundation website.
Biffle is particularly proud that sales of the calendar have consistently increased every year, thanks in part to support from fellow NASCAR superstars like Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick, who pose with their pets. Since 2009, one of Biffle’s racing sponsors, 3M, has picked up the printing costs. Biffle explains that because the costs to run the organization are fairly low, they are able to donate the majority of the funds raised back to the community. To date, the foundation has issued grants to more than 500 humane groups across the country, and donates hundreds of autographed items annually for shelters to use in their own fundraising efforts.
The Biffles also take a hands-on approach to helping homeless pets, including coordinating transports of puppies each month to North Shore Animal League America’s no-kill shelter in New York from the Charlotte area. At the end of the day, while Biffle will always get a thrill from the roar of the engines and the energy of the crowd on race days, hearing his dogs welcome him home is music to his ears. And his furry friends’ favorite sound? “They love the words ‘ice cream!’” Biffle laughs. “About once a month, we’ll pile them all in the truck and take them to Brewsters, where they put a treat in the ice cream for the dogs.” That sounds sweet for the whole family.
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