As drivers, we get a lot of attention. We’re the ones with our pictures on those pieces of paper called “hero cards,” but the guys who are behind the scenes working their tails off don’t really get much recognition. They’re the guys who should be signing autographs because without them, we wouldn’t be going very far. These are the people who get us from point A to point B in more ways than one, and Jep Trammell is an important part of what goes on with our Service Central car at the racetrack. Even though he wasn’t real excited to talk about himself, I thought it was about time he got a little recognition. I work with some great guys, but this one is about Jep.
My dad, Jep Trammell Sr., raced Super Pro when I was a little kid, so I guess you could say that I’ve been in drag racing all my life. I always loved it, and when I got older, me and my cousin Arthur Allen would go wherever the local race was. I was 18 years old when Arthur came back from the military, and a couple of our friends had Top Sportsman cars so we started traveling around with them and going racing.
I did get out of racing for a little while. When I turned 21, I got my CDL and my dad gave me my first dump truck, then in 1996 I went down to Atlanta for the Olympics and moved there the next year. I was driving dump trucks and working for Gaddis Trucking, and that is where my next connection to drag racing came in. The trucking company belonged to the brother of Pro Stock racer Barry Grant’s wife, Robin. She knew I liked racing, and she approached me about working on the team. Barry Grant was the driver, and Buddy Ingersoll was the crew chief. In 2005, I started working with them, and Buddy Ingersoll taught me everything I know. He used to tell me to go out there and take the car apart and put it back together. I learned everything from him, and I thank him every day.
Two years later, I started working with Bob Gilbertson on his Funny Car. Tommy DeLago was the crew chief and showed me how to do the clutch on the Funny Car. I took a year off after that because some buddies of mine had some dump trucks, and I went to help them get the business running – me and my brother and my dad. We started with one truck, and when I left we had eight.
In November of 2009, the Pomona race, Craig Hankinson – he’s the car chief on Shane’s car – called me and asked if I would be interested in working with them on Johnny’s Pro Stock car in 2010. I knew Craig from when I worked with Gilbertson, there was a guy there named Dan Gieselman and he used to work with Craig at Mark Pawuk’s. We used to go watch Craig drive – he is a real good driver – and that’s how I got to meet him. I knew his face from when I used to work with Barry, but I had never really met him before.
When Craig called, it took a minute for me to realize that that’s what I really wanted to do. Well, I knew I did, but I didn’t know how to tell the guys that I had formed the company with. It was a tough decision, but I ended up leaving January 4th and moving to North Carolina. I stayed with Jason from the team and his wife Kim for 3 months before I got my own apartment, and I’ve been there ever since. When Johnny moved to Funny Car, they moved me and Jason over to Shane’s team. Shane and the boys, they opened their arms to me.
I do the clutch on the car, build transmissions, and I can do the back half – but that depends on what you call the back half. I can change the tires and put the rear ends in, but messing with the four-link, I don’t do that. I also drive the transporter, and I like driving to all the races because you see more than you do flying, and I see stuff that I’ll never forget. I don’t care how old I get, I will never forget where I’ve been.
This Service Central team is a great place to be, and as long as they keep me, I’m here. I love it, and I just love who I work for. I’m happy to stay right where I’m at.