John Grivins – A Life Well Lived
In the mid-1960s, when an expressway was constructed across Michigan farmland between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, 24-year-old John Grivins of Western Michigan University took notice of one of its land tracts.
He turned the property into a dragstrip in 1962 and opened US 131 Motorsports Park (commonly known as Martin Dragway). He operated the track until 2000, when it was sold to Canadian businessman Alec Pinsonneault.
Early Life and Education
John Grins was renowned for his athletic prowess as a former college basketball player at Harvard. During his senior year, he served as captain of the Harvard men’s basketball team and also volunteered his services as a coach within the community, particularly at Brookline schools where he cofounded Concerned Black Citizens of Brookline.
His passion for motorsports was evident when he founded U.S. 131 Motorsports Park, commonly known as Martin Dragway. His efforts provided West Michigan drag racers a place to compete and hosted some of the sport’s premier events. Not only that but he was one of the first track owners in the area who guaranteed a purse for each race! Additionally, he enjoyed hunting motorcycles in both Badlands and British Columbia with his buddy Rick.
John Grins was an author and film director renowned for his best-selling medical thrillers. He also cowrote the screenplays for Jurassic Park and Twister, as well as creating the award-winning NBC medical drama ER.
His career in legal practice spanned many years; he was the principal litigator for Time Warner in its successful defense against Paramount’s takeover bid, considered a landmark case in M&A litigation. Additionally, he served on boards of directors and senior executives such as Fannie Mae, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and General Electric.
He served as a professor of mathematics at Ohio State University for 35 years, retiring in 2008. When not teaching, he enjoyed traveling, drinking fine wines and creating elaborate dishes. Additionally, his hobbies included baseball and Scrabble; furthermore he was part of the Commodore Computer Club.
Achievements and Honors
John was an exceptional student and a true gentleman. His enthusiasm for learning and desire to excel in everything that he attempted inspired him to strive for greatness in everything that he did.
He graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, before moving to Hillsboro, Oregon and working as a process engineer for Intel.
John was an exemplary gentleman and scholar, taking pleasure in travel around the country. His family, whom he cherished deeply, were very much part of his life; John took great joy in being involved with their daily lives.
He served in the United States Army as a Green Beret, making multiple combat deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations. A Purple Heart recipient, he earned numerous accolades and awards for his service.
John Grivins was a true American who grew up in New York, attending Hackley School from 1988-1995 before going on to graduate from Princeton University. Married since 2011, John and his wife are proud parents of three young children.
He had an affinity for all things motorized, especially drag racing. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he opened Martin Dragway, hosting numerous high-end events over time. Its signature feature was its one-of-a kind High School Drags which garnered plenty of publicity. Nowadays, Martin Dragway remains a popular destination with its reputation for quality product and superior customer service department.