There can have been few people who have generated so much enthusiasm, or given the opportunity to so many to involve themselves in drag racing during his time in the sport. Dave Grady had such an infectious enthusiasm for participating in, organising and promoting drag racing that it was impossible not to be swept along with his ventures and plans. These were the driven visions of a man whose inner passion for all things drag racing were to make Dave Grady one of the most innovative operators in the sport.
Dave started his early strip career campaigning a Holden in Street Eliminator at Santa Pod and Blackbushe as early as 1973, and at Pennine’s first events at Crosland Moor near Huddersfield in 1974. His leadership qualities through heavy involvement with the cruising clubs of the late seventies – the Yorkshire Street Freaks and the Northern Street Confederacy – soon came to the fore. As a direct example, the number of converts dragged to Melbourne for the inaugural meeting for PDRC in 1977 was testament to Dave’s promotional capabilities.
Dave’s friendship and work with the late Glenn Jarvis to provide American style outlets for the emerging hot rodders and racers in the North of England led him to establish what became Superpower USA at Swillington near Leeds, and a more drag strip focused outlook.
Racing took over from cruising, and Dave’s trusty black ’57 Ford took on the mantle of High Spirits for Senior Competition racing at Melbourne. There followed some spells of intense hard work as PDRC Chairman and Publicity Manager, lifting the profile of Pennine to new heights and giving Dave the opportunity to communicate his enthusiasm for the drag racing lifestyle and its possibilities to a wider audience, from big money sponsors to the youngster walking the pits at Melbourne with their parents.
A new unique race vehicle followed, the famed Thundertruck designed to compete in the intended Super Gas class. Super Gas had ignited a new flame in Dave’s heart following a trip to the states. Not content with just racing in the new class, Dave set to work co-ordinating the G-Force. A totally new idea for a single class of vehicles to offer themselves to show and race promoters as a complete demonstration or race class with sixteen Northern Super Gas cars available to run under the G-Force banner for a championship spanning the three existing tracks. In the following year the class had expanded to more than twenty five vehicles fighting the gasser wars at National events around the country. Super Gas was an established class. In the meantime Dave had forged links with an enthused sponsor to take on some of the financial burden of promoting events at Melbourne and providing much needed sponsorship for racers. Further Dave coups were to see Ken and Bev Coleman’s Blown Police Rover sponsored by South Yorkshire Police. Dave treating the Chief Constable to some memorable trips down his motorway at slightly over the National Limit. It was only unfortunate timing that saw Dave’s planned step up to Top Fuel promoting and racing stopped in mid flow, but never for the lack of drive and enthusiasm.
Dave maintained his promotional powers with his own brand of people based commentary at various shows, and for a while the racing at Santa Pod and York. Finest hours though surely came at the two Pennine Promotions Aintree events, and the spectacular Powersports Festival on the entire sea-front at Blackpool in 1991. A new Thundertruck nestled in the Superpower workshop, sadly never to turn a wheel on the strip, as Dave’s resources of time and cash were stretched to the full.
You could always be sure that Dave would help anyone with their car, their racing or their life, and many racers owe so much to the man at the Superpower Coffee and Talking Shop. Sadly missed, Dave was killed in a tragic accident in 2000 which robbed us of one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet: one of drag racing’s true racers and enthusiasts.