DRAG RACING LOSES A FRIEND WITH PASSING OF CHRIS VANDERGRIFF
Veteran motorsports writer and nitro crew guy Brad Littlefield said it best.
On his Twitter feed, the son of supercharger expert Mert Littlefield wrote, “Godspeed Chris Vandergriff. Thank you for always being a kind, fun, generous dude. The lights dimming at the PRI Show meant it was time to beeline to the Hedman Hedders booth and watch you hold court.”
In one post, Littlefield said what thousands of Chris Vandergriff’s friends were thinking following his unexpected death following complications from a major heart attack on September 21, 2021. He was 51 years old.
The youngest of four children of Bob and Martha Vandergriff, Chris listed his role at Hedman Husler Hedders as General Manager/President and Director of Racing. But he was so much more than a title. Chris was a long-lost friend to those who befriended him and someone who always sought to find the good in people.
Chris lived life to the fullest, and then some. And he was as proud a father as there was to daughter Chase, 15.
He loved high-performance vehicles and loved climbing behind the wheel even more. Chris even followed his older brother Bob into the Top Fuel ranks. Though his driving career lasted for two races culminating in a spectacular blowover at the 2003 NHRA U.S. Nationals, he didn’t let that keep him out of racing. A year later, he climbed behind the wheel of a Super Comp dragster.
Chris flirted with tractor pulling and some dirt track racing. He found his comfort zone out on his boat at Lake Lanier more times than not.
He was a throwback to the old days when a man’s word was his bond, and a handshake meant more than a signature on paper.
Chris was a champion for the underdog, regardless of if it was in business or on the track.
“This one really hurts,” wrote up-and-coming racing artist Greg Russell of Greg Russell Designs on his Facebook page. “My former boss, friend, and brother Chris Vandergriff .... over 30 years we have had nothing but the best of times from Georgia to the PRI show at Indianapolis. Your encouraging words and your business-like hustle, I was so thrilled when you asked me to be your designer for BTS back in the day .. you will be missed brother....damn..this one really hurts.”
Fellow Georgian Jon Hall considered Chris both a friend and mentor.
“Seeing all who have had experiences and lifelong friendships with Chris can probably all say the same thing,” Hall wrote in a Facebook post. “He was an incredible man. He was always there for his friends and family; he always had to do things big and make his stamp on every moment. His hustle was always present. His passion for racing was top-notch. He was more than just a friend. He was an older brother/ mentor to me. I’m forever grateful that I had him in my life and helped me be the man I am today. I will cherish all those wild times and wild rides, brother. This is a tough one. You will always be remembered.”
It’s hard to forget a person who meant so much to so many people. Chris truly did touch so many in so many ways.
Rest in peace, brother. You made a difference in this world.
In addition to daughter Chase, Chris is survived by his father Bob, sister Elfie, and brothers Bob Jr. and Kevin.
Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.