They broke the mold when they made Frankie Grill. The legendary car owner, chassis builder and crew chief passed away over the weekend. Grill was the frontman for Grand American Race Cars and the father to two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill.
That just touches the surface of Frankie Grill’s success and impact at the short track level, which spans a lifetime. In a 2017 article, the Alabama native confirmed that his cars as an owner / builder had won 11 Snowball Derby races from 1984 to the present. Frankie even worked with the late Freddie Fryar for a Derby win one year, but he was not the car owner.
Grill owned Grand American Race Cars, which he ran with his son Augie in Dolomtie, Alabama up until the time of his passing. It was originally Neil Bonnett Race Cars in the 80’s before its name changed. Grill worked with Bonnett for several years as they established themselves in the racing world.
He was a staple to the Super Late Model world, Five Flags Speedway and the Snowball Derby.
Those who got past Grill’s tough personality on the surface got to know a man who believed in family, racing and celebrating life after a win. After the wins came, the stories would keep you listening until well past the lights were turned off at the race track.
As a car owner he was a champion at the NASCAR level in the Southeast series in 1999 and 2001 with Wayne Anderson as a driver and his son as a crew chief. At the end of the 2001 season, they claimed the Tom Dawson Trophy at the Snowball Derby.
It was not just Super Late Models that Grill helped power to victory, as they have built cars for seven wins in the Snowflake 100, one of the biggest annual Pro Late Model races.
Perhaps what Frankie Grill was most proud of was his son Augie Grill, who went from Crew Chief to a top notch Super Late Model driver who has won countless big races all across the southeast.
Just a few of the drivers that raced under the GARC banner or used their equipment include: Chase Elliott, Bubba Pollard, Eddie Mercer, Bobby Gill, Jody Ridley, Ronnie Sanders, Butch Lindley and Charlie Bradberry.
-Story by Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51