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Bill "Grumpy" Jenkins' Chevy II |

Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins’ Grumpy’s Toy

Bill Grumpy Jenkins 66 Chevy II

As most of you know Drag Racing Legend Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins’ passed away back in March of this Year. Grumpy Jenkins was probably by far the most Innovative Pro Stock Drag Racer of all time! Even more Innovative than the Professor himself; Warren Johnson! He helped pioneer several innovations in the motorsport creating things such as the kick oil pan, strut front suspension, cool cans, electric water pump fans, slick shift manual transmissions and his biggest innovation of all was probably his Gas Ported Pistons.

He was nicknamed Grumpy for his “no nonsense” attitude at the strip and his Mannerisms of always keeping a straight face, always wearing shades and Puffing a Cigar while making every single pass.

Grumpy puffing his Cigar at the 1966 NHRA Winter Nationals

Jenkins was also known for having quite a hive of cars and all of them were appropriately  nicknamed “Grumpy’s Toy” though these machines were anything but toys. They were the most innovative and well engineered machines to stage on the drag strip. The first Grumpy’s Toy was a 1966 Chevy II L-79 that was painted Regal Red and powered by a 327 SBC.

Da Grumpy staging his “Toy” at the Winter Nationals

Jenkins raced the Chevy II in the A/Stock class, a class that was dominated by the mighty Mopar HEMI’s back in 1966. Jenkins strongly believe that even though he had a smaller engine due to his Innovations and his light weight he would have the faster car.

Grumpy’s Toy in the Pits. Just look at all the details on the car, all of the writing is hand painting on and not stickers.

Jenkins managed to squeeze out 420 horsepower out of the little 327 and he used every ounce of it, along with his lighter car to beat the mighty Mopars.The 327 had forged pistons which were gas ported and fitted with Dyke’s Piston rings.

The heads on the small block were milled to allow minimum chamber volume which brought the compression up to 11.6:1. The cylinder heads that Jenkins originally used 461 numbered castings. Grumpy’s Toy used a 550 flat- tappet camshaft with a 108-degree center-line and Crane Rockers.

A Cigar puffing burnout for Da Grump

Fuel and air delivery was inhaled by an Edelbrock high-rise intake manifold and a modified Holley 585-CFM Carb. The exhaust originally was exhaled through a set of Doug Thorley’s Tri-Y headers but  Da Grump later switched to Hooker when they became his first paying sponsor.

All of this power was hooked up to the famous Muncie M21 4 speed transmission. Jenkins shifted the 4 gears using custom Hurst 3 speed shifter that he had modified himself. Grumpy was known for being excellent at drag racing with a manual that he once made 250 straight passes with out missing a gear! The Chevy II raced with 4.88:1 rear gears.

The Chevy II getting ready to make one of it’s faithful passes at the 1966 Indy Nationals.

Jenkins had lots of success with Grumpy’s Toy I he set a record in 1966 by making a pass of 11.66 which was the fastest pass in Super Stock at the time. Grumpy’s Toy was able to consecutively turn times in the 11 second range.

Grumpy’s Toy making the pass in the Legendary Finals at the 1966 NHRA Indy Nationals

Sadly Grumpy’s Toy I was short after finishing 2nd at the NHRA Nationals in the final round against Jere Stahl where Jenkins lost because he Red Lighted at the start, the Chevy II was destroyed in a toying accident on the way home from the Nationals.

Crew Member Bruce Tucker passed out while driving the tow rig and caused the Chevy II to crash. The car except for the drivetrain was totaled (which was salvaged) and Grumpy’s Toy was sent to its final resting place at a Junkyark where it was recycled after 20 years.

Not sure if this is the last picture taken of Grumpy’s Toy or not but it seems to fit the setting of the accident pretty well.

 

 

 

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