Bill Frye - A New Attitude (cover feature)
Dirt Late Model Magazine, March 2001
During the Dirt Late Model boom of the 1990s, new stars of the sport burst on
the scene with predictable regularity. Every driver who won a big race was
instantly touted as "the next big thing," and most of these darlings of the
dirt set managed to sell a gross or two of brightly colored t-shirts before
slinking back to their home turf.
But a handful of bona fide stars managed to stay in the spotlight, drawing
fans and media praise during the bad times as well as the good. Drivers such
as Steve Francis, Rick Eckert, Dan Schlieper, Terry Phillips and Ronnie
Johnson attracted loyal followings, who support their heroes regardless of
whether their last big win came last week or last decade.
Bill Frye is another of the Late Model competitors who showed up on the
national scene in the '90s and made his mark during that period of remarkable
growth for the sport. A product of his Ozark upbringing, the six-foot-plus
Frye's friendly farm boy demeanor and crooken grin belie one of the sharpest
mechanical minds in short track racing. During his tenure as GRT Race Cars
house car driver, Frye worked with company founder Joe Garrison to develop
numerous ideas that are now commonplace in the engineering of Late Model
His record proves that Frye is no slouch behind the wheel either. After
moving to Greenbrier, Arkansas, the Missouri native won the 1991 MLRA
championship before notching high exposure wins in the 1994 Hillbilly 100,
the '95 Hav-A-Tampa Shootout and the '96 Topless 100. Frye is tied for
second with Billy Moyer on MLRA's all-time winners list with 29 victories and
eighth on the UDTRA listing with 10 series wins.
The past couple of seasons have seen Frye's fortunes flag somewhat as rules
have begun to mandate "cookie cutter" cars, creating an atmosphere where most
teams have the same equipment and there is little room for innovation.
Despite a lower number of visits to victory lane, Frye has managed to garner
solid sponsorship from Unifirst Uniforms, CHC Wire, Petroff Towing and Tim
and Karen Ruen's Night Moves Racing, which is a testament to his personality
and professionalism. Combined with a strong roster of product sponsors
("Most of 'em figure if I run their parts and they don't break, they must be
doing pretty good, " he once joked), Frye's racing program has one of the
strongest infrastructures in the sport.
I was talking to [sponsor] Ed Petroff about the coming year, and he said,
"The best thing about your situation is that you know you're going to have a
better year than you had last. If you'd called a suicide hotline and told
'em that story, they'd have told you to go ahead."