Jenkins celebrates 80th birthday after returning to work

by John Jodauga, National DRAGSTER Associate Editor

Pro Stock icon Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, who underwent a cranial subdural hematoma procedure Sept. 9, celebrated his 80th birthday Dec. 22 and is now back working at his Jenkins Competition shop on a full-time basis.

“I actually feel pretty good now,” said Jenkins. “I was in bed for about a month following the operation for about a month, which weakened my muscles, and I had to attend a re-hab center for about two to three weeks to get back to walking again. I first showed up at the shop around the first week of November and started to do some things around November 15. I work eight hours a day now, usually from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. We have a fairly good amount of Comp eliminator stuff to do at this point, and also a couple of Super Stock engines. Some people think it’s a miracle that I made it back,” said Jenkins. “I don’t know about that. Maybe that’s just me.”

Jenkins made his last public appearance at the 2010 Winternationals, where he participated with many other drag racing legends to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the fabled Pomona event, which is where “the Grump” enjoyed some of his greatest career moments. Jenkins scored his first career national event victory as a driver at the 1965 Winternationals, where he drove his ’65 Plymouth SS/A car to a Stock eliminator triumph.

He also won the first NHRA Pro Stock eliminator title when the category debuted at the 1970 Winternationals, and recorded additional Pro Stock wins at Pomona in 1972 and 1974. Designated team driver Larry Lombardo also scored a victory for Jenkins competition at the 1977 Winternationals.


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