Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins was a fierce competitor in the NHRA tour in the 1970s.
Although he retired from driving in the tour late in the decade, Jenkins continued to race in Pro Stock races. Being the man to beat, Jenkins had a race dedicated to proving his racing skills at the Oswego Dragway.
It was at this race in 1977 where Jenkins let the competition get to him, causing him to flip his car repeatedly on the track. Thanks goes to BangShift for bringing us the story of Jenkins’ epic crash.
The race was called “Beat the Grump,” a match race where Jenkins took on three competitors separately on the track. According to Paul Dazzo, a BangShift reader and the driver Jenkins was racing when he wrecked, Jenkins had raced two of his three competitors before he wrecked his car.
For the third race, the one against Dazzo, Jenkins was asked to push his car a bit harder to give the track crowd a better show by a promoter. It was right after the launch of the final race that Jenkins lost control of his car during an up-shift, causing the car to “get squirrelly,” according to the Midwest Racer article that covered the incident.
The car then flipped end over end, trapping Jenkins inside when it came to a stop. It took 20 minutes to remove the injured Jenkins from his car, having suffered three broken ribs and a broken hand.
We may never know exactly what caused Jenkins to lose control of his car that day, but there are speculations. According to Dazzo, after a pre-race conversation with Jenkins, Dazzo wrote “Grumpy who” on his back window. It is Dazzo’s opinion that that simple question got into Jenkins’ head.
Dazzo states in his comment to BangShift’s article that Jenkins said after the race that he was angry and stayed on the gas when he shouldn’t have, causing Dazzo to believe he got into Jenkins’ head. No matter if it was Jenkins’ anger, a sarcastic question on a rear window or a car malfunction, we are glad that Jenkins walked away from the wreck. Being able to reminisce about that race with Jenkins’ race competitor makes it that much sweeter.