Contrary to popular belief, Barry Grant did not decide to go drag racing just because he became successful in business. Born in the Bronx, New York, Barry Grant got a tough start in life. His surroundings were tough enough, but things proved even more difficult, as Grant had to deal with an abusive father. One thing lead to another and the youngster found himself in reform school. Barry moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, at the age of 12 and began bracket racing when he was 17. Like most of us, his first few cars were daily drivers that found double duty on the street and strip.
Barry's first real race car (a '72 Chevelle) was built by long-time friend, Richard Earle of Suncoast Performance. At the time, Barry was employed as a heavy equipment mechanic, where he developed an expertise in hydraulics and fluid transfer systems. Racing as a weekend warrior, Grant began doing lots of work on his friends' carburetors-something that offered a great sense of accomplishment. Barry told us, "Each time I modified someone's carburetor, it not only ran better, it looked better, too, as each rebuild always got a thorough cleaning." However, his regular job began causing health problems. Constantly working on concrete, Grant developed chronic pain in his feet. Unfortunately, a trip to the podiatrist resulted in a misdiagnosis, followed by surgery that did nothing to alleviate the problem. As a result, Barry could no longer stand on concrete for long periods of time and pain continues to be a daily occurrence.
Shortly thereafter, Barry moved to Georgia and got a job working for a company that had a propensity to bounce its payroll checks. That lasted until 1984 when Grant built a shop on a plot of land he'd purchased. That very shop actually became his home, as well, in spite of the fact that it had no running water for at least six months. Baths in the nearby creek (and sponge-baths) were the norm. An employee brought fresh water every day, used for household needs, as well as rinsing newly modified carburetors. It was a big thrill when the family finally rented a Port-o-Pottie and the woods were no longer used as the restroom.
What made his new venture more attractive was the fact that modifying carburetors was bench work, which allowed Barry to get off his feet. The knowledge he gained in heavy equipment bolstered the move, as his expertise in pumps, valves, and fluid transfer systems provided a solid foundation for his new start-up. Barry noticed a common trend, as many of his customers were trying to win races with insufficient fuel delivery systems. As a result, he designed and successfully marketed his line of high-volume fuel pumps. At the time, the choices were limited, and Grant became known for filling a void in the marketplace by introducing a line of pumps intended for all-out competition. These days, the availability has expanded even more, with continuous-duty pumps, offering product for a wide variety of street applications.
For at least the next 10 years, Barry could be found working from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., 7 days a week. More often than not, the only time he was away from the shop, he could be found at a drag race somewhere not too far away. In Barry's own words, "Our first big building (constructed on the original piece of property) was 10,000 square feet, and six years later, another 35,000 square feet was added to it."
As technology progressed, so did BG Fuel Systems. This was the first company of its kind to discontinue the practice of hand porting carburetor venturii, as the computerized digital probe was much more precise. BG's engineering team utilizes the latest in Cad Cam and Pro Engineered solid-modeling software. Out in the production department, the company features 17 different CNC machines for manufacturing. To maintain quality control, each carburetor that's ready for sale is tested on a 2,000-cfm wet-flow bench. Every regulator and fuel pump is also wet-flow tested on a specially designed fixture, in order to meet strict company standards.
As BG Fuel Systems grew larger, Grant developed Nitrous Works, and later designed and manufactured Demon Carburetors, beginning with a clean sheet of paper. Never one to stand still, Rush Performance Filters became a new part of the family at Barry Grant Incorporated. Top quality materials are imported from Europe, making Rush the natural choice for a complete BG induction system. As Barry stated, "I build products that I'd want to purchase myself. And, in order to keep up with quality control, we've instituted a new program where an employee ID number is affixed to each individual item, increasing traceability for overall quality control." Though Barry Grant builds expensive King Demon racing carburetors, the majority of production is geared towards street enthusiast and hot rod applications. By the way, these are no more expensive than competitive products. However, numerous patented features are built right in.
Business aside, Barry's undying passion for drag racing has found him competing in Pro Stock-the highest (and most sophisticated) category for carbureted, gasoline-burning race cars. Since the mid '90s, he's surrounded himself with the best equipment and personnel in the game. However, Pro Stock happens to be the most competitive of all classes, as well as the most difficult to master. Barry Grant is the type of guy that relishes a challenge, and meets it head-on.
His Pro Stock motor program is spearheaded by Frank Iaconio Racing Engines (F.I.R.E.). With these naturally aspirated bullets, horsepower gains generally come in small increments. To help verify (and tweak) the power combinations, Grant has a 2,000 hp DTS engine dyno in-house, complete with its own separate temperature and humidity system for maximum control of testing conditions. Trackside, veteran Buddy Ingersoll serves as Crew Chief, calling the shots, with tuning input from Barry himself. While working on this story, we spent a few weekends in the pit area of Barry's Pro Stock Cavalier, and our time together is always informative, as well as entertaining. Fortunately for Barry, his lovely wife Robin, not only accompanies him to the races, her expertise as company CFO is also a great benefit. Oh, Robin's not only attractive, this moonshiner's daughter is a dyed-in-the-wool car gal, who went to LeMans one year just to see what the legendary 24-hour road race was all about. As always, we had a great time with Barry, Robin, and the crew.