August 13, 2012, Santa Ana, California: At 3:50am,on Sunday, August 12th in Orange California, we lost Jerry Grant. Its hard to talk about Jerry who was born January 23, 1935 in Seattle Washington without talking about racing; that’s what Jerry was, a Racer. His wife of more than fifty-five years, Sandy, his daughters Yvonne and Tammy and 5 Grandchildren were his life, but racing was who he was. Jerry had a natural born gift for driving a vehicle fast. If he had a fear gene, it was very small and Jerry probably broke it. He always denied it, but he did have a tendency to break things. He was a big man, even by the standards of the day, impossibly huge compared to the jockeys that occupy the computerized cockpits of todays miniatures of the cars Jerry chauffeured around the steel and hay bale lined courses of his day. And he was one of those guys who could not only drive anything, he could drive them anywhere and he was always quick.
“Merry Christmas, this is Jerry Grant”; it didn’t matter what day of the year it was, that’s what you heard when Jerry Grant was on the phone. In retrospect, everyday was Christmas for Jerry. It’s said that you have to grow older, but you don’t have to grow up. Jerry Grant could have invented that phrase for he maintained an almost child like persona his entire life.
Jerry is credited with the first official 200mph lap on a closed race track. Hearing him talking about what went through his mind on that run indicated no fear of harm or death, only fear that he wouldn’t go fast enough. Listening to him talk about racing it becomes clear there was no such thing as “Fast Enough” in Jerry’s mind. He raced against, and for, some of the greatest names in the business; Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Bobby Unser, Bob Bondurant, and many more. He drove the great cars of the era, Ferrari, Corvette, Lotus, Eagles, Cobras and Ford GTs. He drove all the great circuits of any era, Indianapolis, Daytona, LeMans, Targa Florio among others.
When he finally hung up his helmet, he exchanged it for a Champion Spark Plug ball cap. Jerry brought that same winning dedication to that job as he had to every car he had ever driven. As VP of Motorsports for Champion Spark Plugs, he over saw that brands ascension to motorsports legend status. The Champion Spark Plug brand continues to enjoy the spoils of Jerry’s efforts many years after it turned away from motorsports. Jerry started Motor Sports Unlimited and worked directly with Honda after leaving Champion. Later, with his efforts and his rolodex he was instrumental in the Prolong Lubricants brand development and shooting star effort.
The checkered flag has flown for the last time over the head of this gentle giant. A legacy from a by-gone era lives on in the minds of those of us who had the privilege of spending time with him, and for those few who felt the benefit of his random phone calls and that glorious greeting; “Merry Christmas” Jerry Grant, and Gods speed to you and to God, God will need it when you get suited up.
Please refer all questions to Gary Bryson at Gary@brysoncomm.com or 760-220-5555
Instead of flowers the Grant's favorite charity is First Love Ministries USA, FLMusa.org