The drag racing gene is easily passed from father to son and creates a strong bond between the two that often lasts a lifetime. Grant Chapman was a racer long before he started a family and continued until a growing business called him away from the sport. Grant is now back in the driver’s seat thanks in part to his son, Nick, who scored the desire to race from his father and wanted to help get him back to the track.
Grant started racing early in his teenage years, well before he met his wife, and they ultimately ended up racing a 1972 Chevelle. The Chevelle was replaced with a 1977 Vega that Grant raced in Super Gas and his son soon joined him at the track, absorbing everything he could about racing from a young age.
“When dad ran the Vega he was a tow truck driver and was fixing cars on the side to pay for racing. He ran that car just about every weekend until we moved, and he wanted to start his own business working on cars full time. The decision to open his business forced him to sell the racing operation to fund the new shop. This put a hold on our racing and the business (Grant’s Service) grew into a very successful operation we run together as a family today,” Nick says.
All of Grant’s racing and time spent at the track ultimately influenced Nick to get his own car and start racing. Nick ended up having a serious accident, but with the support of his dad, he was able to get another car built and campaigned it successfully. It was the time that Grant spent at the track with his son that re-lit his fire to get back into driving his own race car.
“Dad got a line on a 1991 Firebird rolling chassis that was never finished. I remember him calling me as I was on the way to a race and I told him to load the trailer up and take cash with you. He called back a couple of hours later and said he had his new car on the trailer headed home. We took our time and were as thorough as we could while building this car together. Everything we learned throughout the years was put to use and our goal was to assemble the nicest car we have ever done,” Nick explains.
When Grant got the Firebird home it was obvious it needed a lot of work, so family friend Ron Broetzmann stepped in to help. With Broetzmann’s assistance, Grant was able to get the engine set in place, build some headers, get the wheelie bars situated, and a whole lot more. Nick helped out with his industry contacts to finish out the chassis with parts from Strange Engineering and Menscer Motorsports.
Powering the Firebird is a 505 cubic-inch big-block Chevy that was assembled by Chip Brunswick at BMI Engines. Automatic Transmission Design put together a transmission and torque converter combination to work with the big cubic-inch Chevy. Endless Performance stepped up to help out with some dyno time and other items, as well. The Firebird’s good looking paint is courtesy of Meticulous Auto Body, and Hy-tec Powder Coating took care of the finish on many of the parts.
Grant plans on doing some index racing with the Firebird after he gets it sorted out more. He will start out racing in a local 9.50 index before he steps up to the 8.50 class to race with his friends. The Firebird has been a great father/son project for the Chapmans and has allowed Nick to pay his father back for getting him into racing as a family.