Born in 1975 to Glyn and Pamela Grove and raised in Worcestershire, England | UK, 2 sibling brothers, Russell and Stephen complete the Grove family. From very early on there was a draw to speed and the need to scare himself senseless at least once a week. BMX, Skateboards, dirt bikes, you name it he was there and eventually the Grove family became as like many others ‘A Racing’ family.
Towards the end of high school he went to a local Scrambling race in Shobdon, Herefordshire with a schoolboy buddy. It was a freezing cold day in England and it hadn’t stopped raining for at least a couple of days. Most of the day was spent in a tent watching his friend slip and slide around a muddy course with 20 other mud covered riders. It was miserable, but it was enough to inspire a pursuit of motocross for the next 15 years both in Europe and the U.S.
The life expectancy for any rider in Motocross however is short and fraught with danger and injury – for Karl that meant a number of major concussions! So in 2004 he hung up his goggles and looked for his next kick. California was now home and in 2005 he was married to Melanie Roma, the california chick that he always secretly wanted to find in Cali… four years later their son Noah was born who has been a blessing to both.
Still Karl was anxious to find his new fix… a childhood interest of flying re-emerged and took hold. General aviation in the US as many of you know is alive and well as compared to Europe anyway. So after 6 short months and sixty or so hours of dual and solo flying instruction a Private Pilot’s Certificate was gained. Shortly thereafter – the Pitts Special was introduced to him through a tail-wheel and aerobatic instructor. One ride in a Pitts Special was enough – to spark a keen interest in flying. Those that have flown a Pitts or indeed flown with someone in a Pitts knows exactly what we’re talking about – and until you yourself fly in a Pitts you’ll just have to imagine the scariest roller coaster ride you’ve ever ridden.
So that sewed up the next 6 months of life, at least until he heard about National Championship Air Racing in Reno, NV. Racing is in the blood – and once you have the bug – you never lose it… it may get tempered by work, life, your spouse – but it’s there and don’t ever expect it to abandon you. Air Racing… the only form of its kind left in the world. Yes, there’s Red Bull but Reno is real side by side air racing at speeds of up to 480 mph and only 50 feet off the ground around oil drum pylons no less! So after less than 100 hours of total flying time, most of which was in a Cessna 150, Karl started searching for a biplane racer. Eventually he found one, the owner Dennis Vest had owned the Pitts named ‘DragRacer’ for the last few years and was campaigning the aircraft in the Sport Biplane Gold Cup event. It was/still is one of the fastest Pitts Biplanes in the world and has clocked 242 mph in a straight line. At first Dennis was a little reluctant to sell, but after a few months of negotiating an agreement was reached.
So after the scariest few months of his life [The Pitts solo is included in that statement] Karl began logging time in the Pitts. The next step was PRS (Pylon Racing School). From there a few months later it was to be his rookie year in 2010 at the Reno Air Races. It was an awesome experience, and with the help of wife Melanie, Dennis Vest, Dave McGaw & Red Hamilton, Karl finished 4th in the Gold Cup Race. An awesome achievement – in fact to our knowledge no rookie in biplane air racing history has qualified at over 200 mph let alone finished 4th.
Over the next few years Karl met a number of awesome individuals in Air Racing, a few in particular, Bobby Graham [Bobby’s Aeroservices], Craig Catto [Catto Propellors] and Paulo Iscold [UFMG University, Brazil]. Collaborations and then friendships were formed and joining forces with these experienced and key figures as well as Dennis Vest and the DragRacer team has been instrumental to DragRacer’s development since ownership. So what else lies on the horizon… well a new project is underway ‘Boomerang Racer – A New Generation of Air Race Biplane’. Without all of these individuals we would not be traveling down the road that we are. Check out the latest images and concepts
“Racing is life, everything else in between is just waiting”. Steve McQueen