QUINTESSENTIAL CREWMAN D. GANTT PASSES
Iconic Blue max crewman "Waterbed" Fred Miller didn't have to ponder his words to describe D. Gantt, his longtime co-worker on one of the most storied teams in drag racing.
Miller described Gantt for what he was - the quintessential crewman. In other words, there was little Gantt wasn't capable of doing or a problem too challenging to figure out.
Gantt, 72, passed away on Friday afternoon in Cincinnati after a lengthy battle with cancer.
"You talk about a one of a kind guy," Miller said. "The first thing he showed me how to do was open a can of oil with a screwdriver. I’m serious. He set out 14 quarts of oil, and he goes, ‘Here, you stick it in here, you pop the lid off, and you pour it in."
Gantt had a storied history in drag racing working with past NHRA champion Larry Fullerton, Bob Riggle, "Wild" Willie Borsch, and "TV" Tommy Ivo just to name a few. However, it was his association with Dale Emery which led to his working relationship with Raymond Beadle and the Blue Max operation.
It wasn't long into their association when Miller realized Gantt marched to the beat of his own drum.
"He'd read a book a day," Miller recalled. "Yeah, and him and Lynn Prudhomme used to swap off books. He could do a little bit of everything. He was well read, he was … he played bass guitar in a band."
"He could party with the best of them, he could, but he did it in a really mild way."
Miller said while Gantt was a jack-of-all-trades, he was a master of them all.
In fact, Miller said, one needs to look no further than when Gantt was reassigned from the nitro team to the NASCAR Winston Cup program driven by Rusty Wallace, the result was the same as the three-time Funny Car championship team. Wallace also won a Winston cup crown.
"Here’s a guy that would do anything for you and he wasn’t flashy," Miller said. "He was solid gold.
"That’s why we hired him was he could do a little bit of everything, no doubt about it."