Grant Enfinger freely admitted being “one of those crawfish guys” when a radio interviewer put it to him that way. Enfinger comes from Fairhope, an Alabama town of 14,000 on Mobile Bay. “He’s definitely a country boy at heart,” says his public relations spokeswoman. But he also has a business degree from the University of South Alabama and has exhibited shrewdness—not to mention great performances on the track—in his effort to make it in big-time stock car racing.
Enfinger, who is 24 years old, is entering his own car in a handful of ARCA events this season. On April 19 he finished nineteenth at Rockingham, but five days later he ran third at Talladega. His next race wasn’t until July 18 at Kentucky. After a thrilling duel over the last twenty laps of the race, Parker Kligerman made a heroic effort in the last turn to get by Enfinger for the win. Enfinger showed a lot of class in coming up to congratulate Kligerman in victory lane.
The Number 83 that Enfinger ran that night was an old Carl Edwards car that he had won with in 2005. Enfinger laid out $15,000 for this and a backup car and still had to supply the engines. Many of the suspension components were borrowed from well-placed racing friends like David Ragan.
It costs Enfinger about $40,000 to compete in an ARCA race. Each crewman on the team represents an outlay of at least $600 for hotels and meals. He hardly has any money to provide for his own needs, and his racing helmet is so old and out-of-date that it might not pass approval if anybody were to look. His driving gloves were given to him by a friend, Tom Hessert. In exchange, Enfinger sometimes lets Hessert stay on his couch when the latter is in town.
The payout for second at Kentucky was $7000, which just about covered Enfinger’s tire bill. Tires are $1700 per set, and five sets will just about do throughout practice, qualifying, and the race. For Kentucky, there was sponsorship from an Alabama law firm, Beasley Allen, but Enfinger was still trying to find the money to bring his car to race at Chicago in August.
Meanwhile, he was invited to drive for car owner Andy Belmont at Berlin Raceway on July 25, and that’s where I caught up with him and took his portrait. He finished in thirteenth that night, the first car off the lead lap.