MOBILE, Ala. — Fourteen-year-old Grant Thompson will take the next step in his racing career by piloting a pro late model for Gulf Coast racing legend Augie Grill in select events this season.
Thompson, who raced with the Southern Pro-Am Truck Series last season and won the Pro Truck track championship at Mobile Int’l Speedway, will contest an 11-race slate in Grill’s Grand American Race Cars house entry — headlined by the prestigious Snowflake 100 at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway in December.
The Alabama teenager will make his debut behind the wheel of Grill’s familiar No. 112 during the Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series event at Five Flags on June 5.
Thompson will race in four Pro Late Model events at the Pensacola, Fla., half-mile oval, as well as four races at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Ga., and three Show Me The Money Series events at Montgomery (Ala.) Motor Speedway.
He was quick to note that if not for the backing and support of Roger and Bobby Reuse — both of whom have raced at NASCAR’s national level — he might not have gotten the opportunity to drive for Grill.
“First, I’d like to thank Roger and Bobby Reuse for everything they’ve done for me,” noted Thompson. “I remember one evening at Five Flags Speedway, I was just about to buckle up in my truck to get ready for our race, and I was walking down pit road and I bumped into Roger. We started talking about some stuff and he said, ‘Well Grant, whenever you’re ready to hop in a late model, just let me know and we can make that happen for you.’ I was super excited about that, and now it’s happening.
“I’d also like to thank Augie Grill and Great American Race Cars for believing in me. I’m looking forward to this great opportunity.”
Grill is looking forward to helping Thompson grow as a racer under his team’s guidance.
“Everyone at Grand American Race Cars is excited to have an up-and-coming driver in Grant Thompson behind the wheel of the GARC house car for a few races this season,” added Grill. “We had him in the car a couple weeks ago and were so impressed with him. He reminded me a lot of a young Chase Elliott on and off the track. He never seemed too excited or intimidated by the car, the track or myself. If my intuition is correct, I expect great things in the future for Grant. We’re glad to have him on our team.”
Aside from his test session in Grill’s car, Thompson has also spent time in Grill’s race shop in preparation for his maiden voyage with the team next month. It was a humbling experience, he admitted.
“When I first walked into his shop to mount the seat for the pro late model, I wasn’t really sure what to think, but once Augie started talking about what he does in a race and walking us around the shop talking, I really got to know him a little bit better and it was really cool to be around him,” Thompson noted. “We had a lot of good conversations and I just really think he’s a nice guy. He’s just really cool to be around; he’s very engaging with everything we were doing that day. He was a race car guy, really one of the best I can remember in late models from winning a ton of races, being very clean on the race track.
“What I’ve noticed about Augie, that I’ve not noticed about a lot of other race car drivers, is that he is always respectful to people and he’s always thoughtful about his sponsors,” Thompson added. “He doesn’t get mad that much; he’s always super calm and super thankful about what he does just to represent GARC Motorsports and the whole Great American Race Car team. It all stands out and I’m eager to learn all that I can from him.”
For a young racer who grew up immersed in the short-track wars of the Gulf Coast, Thompson couldn’t put a label on just what it means to drive for his racing hero.
“Over the past few years; I’ve been watching Augie race pro late models, super late models and modifieds and he’s been a real mentor to me. Just getting to hop in his race car, I was shocked, excited, and nervous,” Thompson admitted. “I don’t know what was going through my head at the time, but I’m driving the iconic gold No. 112 for Augie Grill … that’s just unbelievable. I’ve never had such a great opportunity like that.
“I’ve been watching him from the earliest I can remember, back to when I was just a little kid watching racing at Five Flags, Mobile and Montgomery. He’s always been up front and really competitive,” he continued. “When he pulled his hauler into Montgomery to test, I was watching it go by and I was in shock. I didn’t know what to think or if should I be nervous or super happy.
“This is just an incredible opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”
In addition to Grand American Race Cars, Thompson also has support from AR Bodies and PFC Brakes.
Prior to his debut in Grill’s iconic No. 112, Thompson has one more Pro Truck start on his schedule, set for May 15 at Five Flags.
He’s coming off a victory in the class during the track’s season opener last Friday.