Johnny Grum

by Bryan Householder

This year’s Past Driver Inductee into the York County Racing Club Hall of Fame has a long and colorful career on the local ovals. It all started in the western part of the state, but for the most part Johnny Grum was known as a top driver on several local circuits.

Grum’s interest in auto racing came from watching his father compete in the western part of the state, and it was sometime around 1950 when he began his own driving career at the Tipton Speedway near his Altoona home.

It wasn’t until 1964 that Johnny Grum’s name began to show up regularly on the local tracks. That year he drove a white number 46 racer, mainly at Selinsgrove, and while he didn’t win a race that season, he did finish seventh in points at Selinsgrove, with a third place finish being his best effort.

The next year he was back in the number 46, and this time he won at Selinsgrove on May 22, to begin a long streak of winning seasons. Later this season, Grum would begin to make his mark at the track where he was most successful, Port Royal. Grum’s first win at the Port came on July 10, and there were two more wins that year at the Port. He also won twice at Bedford in 1965.

Things changed for the better in 1966, when Grum hooked up with a guy named Harry Fletcher, who is already a member of our Hall of Fame. For that season Fletcher had built a Ford powdered “sidewinder” Super Modified, and Grum piloted the potent machine mainly at Port Royal and Hagerstown, along with some appearances elsewhere. Together they won three races at Hagerstown, including the big Hub City 100 near the end of the season. Those wins were good enough for the point title that season at Hagerstown. There were also two wins each at the Port and Bedford.

The “sidewinder” was back again for the 1967 season, and even more potent than the year before. Although they didn’t win a point title that year, Grum won nine races in the Fletcher machine. There were five wins at Hagerstown, three at Port Royal and one at Everett.

While the Sprint Cars were beginning to make their mark on the local circuit in 1968, Grum and the Fletcher team spent one more season with the “sidewinder” car, and it was nearly as successful as the year before. Grum won four races eat at Port Royal and Hagerstown.

By the time the 1969 season rolled around, The Grum/Fletcher team had a Sprint Car, and it was now Chevy powered. While 1969 didn’t produce as many wins, it did produce two track titles. Grum won four races and the point title at Port Royal, and two races and the point title at Hagerstown.

Then came 1970, the best season for the Grum/Fletcher team. They did more racing, and showed just how potent they were all over the area. At Port Royal, Grum won nine times, at Hagerstown there were three wins, and there was one at Selinsgrove. Grum also won four times at Williams Grove, including the 150 lap National Open at the end of the season.

In 1971, the wins kept coming to the Grum/Fletcher team, with three each at Port Royal and Hagerstown, and a single win at Selinsgrove. While he didn’t win a race at Williams Grove, Grum was in contention for the point title there right up to the final race, but fell just 20 points shy of Kenny Weld in the final total.

In 1972 there were just three wins, one each at Port, Hagerstown and the Grove. 1973, was a little better, with four wins at the Port, and one at Hagerstown.

After being shut out of victory lane in 1974, the Grum/Fletcher team returned with a vengeance in 1975. Racing mainly at Port Royal, Grum won there eleven times on his way to the point title.

By this time Grum was beginning to wind down his career as a Sprint Car driver. He won three times at Port Royal in 1976 for his final Sprint Car wins, but his career wasn’t over yet.

Over the next five or so years, Johnny Grum switched his career from Sprint Cars to Late Models, and just kept right on winning. Over those next several years he won 26 Late Model features, including nine each at Port Royal and Bedford.

From the time he ventured into the local area, Johnny Grum won 108 feature races. 82 of those wins came in the Super Modified/Sprint Car class, and 26 in the Late Models. He won a pair of point titles at both Hagerstown and Port Royal, and won the biggest race on the East Coast, the Williams Grove National Open. Johnny Grum’s 47 wins in the Sprint ranks at Port Royal still has him seventh on the all-time list there, and at Hagerstown his 22 wins show up in third place overall.