With victory, Gordon is one in a million to state fan

Hagerstown's Grimm, 46, becomes instant millionaire

February 15, 1999|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Ray Grimm stood behind victory lane yesterday afternoon with four other contestants who had been paired with Daytona 500 drivers in the Winston No Bull Five bonus program. Grimm was the one cheering wildly for Jeff Gordon as he watched the giant video screen that was showing the down-to-the wire drama.

The Hagerstown resident could have been forgiven if his heart raced and his eyes watered. When Gordon beat Grimm's favorite driver Dale Earnhardt to the finish, Ray Grimm won $1 million.

"I'm a Dale Earnhardt fan and until today, I've never rooted against him," said Grimm, whose entry blank was chosen in a nationwide contest. "After today, I'll only be rooting for Jeff. It feels so great. I'm for Jeff Gordon all the way.

"I can't describe how I felt when he won. I was so tense throughout the race. I couldn't see the whole race where we were and then, at the end, I just couldn't take it."

Grimm's voice cracked as he said that, the joy and thrill intermingling.

Gordon was also overwhelmed, as he too collected a $1 million bonus that made his total earnings for winning the Daytona 500 a whopping $2,172,246, the biggest payday in motorsports history.

The No Bull Five will continue with new contestants at Darlington, Talladega, Charlotte and Las Vegas. Gordon, who with Daytona's other top-five finishers will continue the contest at Las Vegas on March 7, was happy, but no more happy than the man he won for.

Grimm, 46, is a drug detection officer at the Maryland Correctional Training Center. He and his wife Sharon, who was here with him, have two daughters, Lynda and Melissa, and two grandchildren, Brendan and Keirstyn.

He said he has no plans to quit his job, but does have several promises to keep.

He promised his children and grandchildren a trip to Disney World in the near future. And, he said, he and his four fellow contestants made a "small deal" before the race to ensure no one would go home empty-handed.

Gordon, standing beside Grimm when he revealed that agreement, spoke up in shock.

"What the heck did you do that for?" Gordon blurted, adding, "he had a lot of faith in me, didn't he?"

In fact, said Sharon Grimm, her husband did believe Gordon would win. "He was sure of it."

And Grimm, looking anything but grim, nodded.

"Jeff kept his promise," he said. "He told me he was going to win it for me and he did."

Pub Date: 2/15/99

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