Billy Kimmel #47

In Memory of The Mechanicsburg Hot Shoe


Stories

This page is designed as a way to remember Billy, and to show those not fortunate enough to have met Billy to see what kind of a person he was. Any story you would like to share can be sent to me at ColdrenRacing@aol.com. Please include your name if you want it put up with the story.

From Rich Althouse

I'm sitting here and my table at home trying out my new lap top. So I clicked on my "favorites " then clicked on the Grove, and since I'm an old Rail Bird Mechanic from way back in the days with Maynard Yingst and Joe Gravino I came upon Billy's pictures and it made me reflect on some of the driver's that are not with us no more. I can't say I knew Billy but I remember him racing and I knew he wasn't one of the big buck guys out there but he sure was having fun and from what I know of him was a real nice guy. It made me reflect on the day Maynard died out in Texas working on funny cars of all things. Maynard and I went to high school together and when we got out of the service Him and Joe where racing motorcycles and wanted to start racing Sportsman's at Silver Springs ( now that is another story) we were also a low buck operation so I knew what Billy was going through. I guess what I'm trying to say we lost a good young driver way to soon and I'm sure a lot of us are going to miss him, because guys like Billy are what racing is all about. Trying your best with what you have and having fun doing it and the nice people you meet and the friendship's you form. So I'm sure when the first day light race comes around for the 2008 season a lot of us will have so fond memories of our past Driver's that are not with us no more and reflect on that. All I know is that up their some where the dirt is flying and they are still having a good time.  I'm now at the time of my life being a Grandpa I take my Grandkid's to the race track and build memories with them, heck who knows maybe there's another good Mechanic out there or a future driver.  God bless you Billy and thanks for the memories.

From John Wickard

Hello My name is John Wickard, and I have known Billy for about 5 years. I first met Billy through Mark Coldren, I wanted to work on a sprint car, I was coming from Super Sportsmen at Silver Spring. Mark needed help so I joined the team. And that is where a group of guys met and bonded. It was Billy, Dustin, Jordan, Mark, Brian and myself. We worked on the 07 getting as good as we could with Mark Driving lol! I remember Billy telling me I want to drive one of these things some day, after maybe a year I thought hmm I could probably be able to get a car and a few spares. So we did, and with the help of Mark we had a motor! We decided to run on Thurs nite at susky and continue to help Mark Fri. and Sat. nites. He was so excited when we bought a used car from George Kulp, he could't wait to bring it home to his shop! So we get his dads open trailer, Imagine that, a open trailer, and hauled it home! We worked on it all winter! We built 2 07 cars and 1 34 1/2 car. It was cool to have 3 complete race cars sitting in one shop! I remember the day we put all three in front of the big trailer and took a picture, what a cool picture and great accomplishment!  But also in the winter we had alot of fun away from racing, if you can belive we actually did something else other then racing! We went to our favorite place,  the Harrisburg Hardware Bar! Had some drinks and looked at all the hotties we could never have lol! And as Mark woudl say we would drink to much and do the Sprint car dance, where we acted like we were sterring a sprint car ! What great times, and the nite usually ended with us falling asleep on Marks floor with thunder in the Mountain playing on the TV. One thing I will never forget is the night Mark explaned to Billy that his seat belt in his Maxima was acting up, and that Mark had not been wearing his seat belt of late! Well of corse we were at the shop when Mark told Billy this, he went out to take a loo k at it. I am not sure what he did, but he fixed it up so that Mark would now wear it. And would't you know it, But that night Mark Left the shop to go home when a deer was standing in the middle of the raod around a bend, Mark went into a field, over a ditch and fliped many times! Mark had told everyone that if he wast wearin his seat belt he would not be here today, And he was only wearing it because Billy had just fixed it not 30 mins befor! Everything you read about Billy is true, He ws a great person, great friend and son! He worked hard for what he wanted, and never asked for anything. He could do alot of things, like weld, paint, built motors, build sprint cars, but most of all be a great person you wanted to be around. I will never forget him and its just not gonna be the same here without him, I hope I am lucky enough to see him again one day, RIP my friend your Buddy, John Wickard

From Amanda Judy

I met Bill about 8 or 9 years ago when he dated my cousin. I remember that day so well he came up to moms house to see my cousin cause she was up for the weekend and we all sat around telling weird ghost stories and laughing about anything and everything. Then about a year later I was at my aunts house and he came down and asked me and my brothers if we would like to go the Farm Show with him and my cousin and we all said yeah cause I believe at that time we had never been to there. That was that last time that I seen him and then the other day I got a phone call phone my cousin and she told me that he had died and I was in total shock. I didn't know that he raced down at Williams Grove and now that I look at his website I see that he was good at it and that it was one of the things he loved. I didn't know him that well but I can say from what I knew of his he was a great guy and he was a good listener. The day I met him I started crying cause we were talking about my dad and he hugged me and told me that everything would be alright and that from what my cousin had told him I had a great stepdad that would be there for me just like a real dad and he was right about that. He will be sadly missed by my whole family. RIP Billy Bob. Love ya.

From Pancho Lawler

To all of our disbelief, Billy passed away Sunday night September 2, 2007 due to
injuries sustained from a sprint car crash at Williams Grove.    Please keep
Billy & his family in your prayers.  During this time of need is when family
matters most.  
 
A person like Billy Kimmel is not one that can be replaced or forgotten, he was
a person who would stop what he was doing, jump in the truck and come down to
help someone else with there race car or whatever.  He was a rare breed, a
person who's word you could trust, a person with 'flare and charisma', a person
that you cannot replace, not now, not in time, not ever.   

About Billy Kimmel:  I first met Billy from when he ran 305 sprint cars, he
started coming to the store to help do things, our friendship grew and I began
see how much he loved to race.  The 305 motor Billy had built himself and ran up
front in that division, he moved to a 360 class using a motor that he had also
built, but after running it only a few times - he knew that the 410 sprint car
is what he wanted to do. After going racing with Billy over the years he had
become a best friend to me, almost like a brother, he taught me things about
engines, set up, and even personalities.  Billy took just a few weeks off to get
the 410 ready, building with FIT (George), Billy was ready to run with the big
dogs.  He ran Susky, Lincoln, and the Grove and he went out and just drove that
car for all he had everytime out.  His first heat race win in the 410 came at
Susky, I was not there but Brian was wrenching on the car that night, Fred
Rhamer was in that heat and some other notables - - when Billy came in after
winning his heat in a big fashion - Brian said it was like a feature win to
Billy.  Billy went on to race at the National open at the Grove and other big
events.  Billy would show up on an open trailer with the truck full of spares,
and a tool box.  He made a small budget race with people that do not have a
budget - Billy wanted to race bad enough to make it work.

Two "Billy stories"

Susky had a practice night on a Sunday, and Billy wanted to go.  Well I wanted
to go and run also, but I had parted ways with our driver a week or so back and
the motors went also.  Billy said come on down, bring your helmet and stuff and
drive my car.  So, I did just that, we took my trailer, his car, his mom came
with food (as usual), and we both drove the 410 car that night.  I smile about
that story now, because I think - how many people would do that for a friend? 
That is the kind of person Billy Kimmel was.

A guy needed a used sprint car frame for Friday night, Billy had one, so he said
"how much" - Billy said "awe give me $50 bucks for it".  If you know Billy, he
always had a sprint car frame around - heck usually had 5 or 6 used frames
there. Anyway, the body was not the buyers 'normal' color, so Billy sanded it
down and painted the body for the buyer at no charge, so when he came to pick it
up... it was all ready to bolt together.  Just another fine example of what type
of person Billy was.

Last words, I was at the track when Billy passed away, I had no words, only
tears - still no words.
But I am damn glad I went that night.  I got to see & talk to Billy just an hour
before he passed.  He came to the parts trailer to talk and get some bolts, I
asked him how it was going and he said it "felt good", we talked for a few
minutes, then he turned, I said "Good Luck", he said "Thanks" - and in a flash
he was gone.  I am glad I knew Billy Kimmel, glad he was a best friend of mine,
glad we went racing together, glad my sons & wife knew him, and glad to know
that Billy Kimmel will never be forgotten.

 

Poem from "A Fan"

With a smiling face you were so nice and kind,
Not hesitating to say what was on your mind,
As we watched you keep up the pace,
On lap 24 you raced your last race,
All we could do was sit and pray,
Please not tonight, Let Billy stay,
But that night God had other plans for you,
He needed you in heaven for more things to do,
Then it was confirmed, our worst fears,
In disbelief through all the tears,
Even though everyone wants you back,
We know your spirit is on the track,
Now you are watching over drivers and fans,
Maybe that's what God had in his plans,
No one will forget that faithful night,
When a young driver was taken from our sight,
Everyone will remember that smiling face,
And know you are now in a better place,
So now when we see that new bright star in the sky,
We know its see you later Billy, not goodbye.
 
Rest in Peace Billy.

From Pete Trimble

I can remember the first day I met Billy we were in the 6th grade and all we talked about was how he loved sprint car racing and he told me all about this guy Mark Coldren that he helped work on a micro sprint with, He went on to tell me that Mark promissed him that if his grades were good and when turned 16 that Mark would let him take the micro out form hot laps. Well that day happend and from that day on Billy always had a dream of some how some way he was going to have his own sprint car. Well a few years after we were out of high school Billy had given me a call like usual and he was so excited on the phone he could barely get out that he finally bought his first sprint car frame and he wanted to know what I was doing and if I could come out to the barn and show him how to use a spray gun to paint the frame. Well from there it was Billy's dream coming true and he followed that dream with alot of passion. Their are alot of memories I have of Billy for me to keep his memory alive. Billy and I became best friends from then on. God speed Billy I'll miss you very much

From Ashley Junkins

My name is Ashley Junkins, i was very close to billy i spent practically every night at his shop over the winter and have plenty of stories to share, but first off i want to say it was a pleasure to have had him in my life, any time i had anything on my mind that i needed someone to talk to  i would call him up and he would say come down to the shop and we can talk...so i would drive over and he would stop everything he was doing and sit down with me and talk to me and when i left there i felt so much better, i left with a smile on my face! he always had the right things to say to make someone smile. Im going to miss him dearly, Bill meant soo much to me and this is gonna be the hardest thing i think im gonna have to do...say goodbye to someone that meant soo much to me.
 
But i just want everyone to know what kind  of guy he was...
 
Over the winter last year Billy, Sam Juergens, Sam Elicker, Stanton and myself all  were out in the field behind the shop, Billy and myself were in the "Ole Dodge" and the others were in Stantons truck or on 4 Wheelers, but bill was spinning donuts and flinging mudd all over the guys on the 4 wheeler and all over the windshield of the other truck, they were covered but since we were soo high up they couldnt get us with mudd, ive never laughed soo hard in my life, and as bill was doing this he was talking in his Redneck voice and acting like he was chewing snuff and spitting out the window and screaming Yeeeee haw!!!!!!!!!!!!! So after all the fun was over Bill stated he was hungry and want to go to his favorite place to eat....Als Pizza, so i said i would drive, and he replys back "Ohh noo your not, were taking the Dodge!" now mind you this thing is covered in mudd!! so we all pile in and head to Als, but as we hit the road huge mudd chucks are flying off everywhere and then we pull into als and you should of saw the look on everyones faces when they saw us all roll out of this thing..it was priceless and we are all laughing historically!
 
We had soo many fun times at the shop, and bill always did something to make you laugh!! Im gonna miss him more than anything.....I love you R.I.P

 

From Nathan Gramm

Hi my name is Nathan Gramm....i was a friend of Billy Kimmel. i helped work on the race car, i first met Bill at my work one day when he came in to see my service manager ( he then worked on the car) he was a pretty straight shooter, straight forward kinda guy, always laughing and cracking jokes. at the race track he was that low buck ,low budget friendly racecar driver that had that "run what ya brung attitude", that brought his car on an open trailer EVERY week to williamsgrove when he could scrounge up enough money for fuel. He never had alot of money, but always wanted the car to look good for the fans. he worked at roadway in carlisle as a trailer mechanic, and partime at Pancho's race products in New Oxford.  in the middle of last year we put the name of my chili on the top wings of his 410 sprint car, "Trailer Trash Chili"...my duties as a sponser was to provide chili for the whole team...( was kinda a small joke and  something just to draw attention and make people look twice and ask questions)...well this year i decided chili just wasn't enough...i used my money to design and have t-shirts printed with his name and sprint car on the front and an open trailer on the back, Jim at Brooks Graphix in New Kingston helped me with this...after 3 months of e-mails and design work...the shirts were done. i had Bill pick them up after i cut 1200 dollar check out. He showed up at my work with a box full of shirts and said " nobody has ever done something like this for me"..."it was the least i could do for the sprint car" there were tears in his eyes. we sold all 72 shirts in no time. when i gather the profit from the shirts i went to bill in the pits and asked him what size tires he ran..."why?" he asked... "because i sold some shirts , i wanna get you new tires" to the tire truck we went. he picked out two rear tires , and with tears in his eyes he said "thank you", he ran to the pits to get them put on and took his provisional and took the pole position for the feature...he got his best finish at the grove that night of 11th place, which made him the happiest man alive...he NEVER had a set of new tires before..... it was a major hit on Beer Hill ( which is a group of fans dedicated to the sport)...his fan interest grew...people would say "who's the guy with the open trailer?" "i like that" they would say "that's a true racer". not much money not much equipment , but alot of heart. all he wanted to do was race, weather it ment pulling junk tires out of junk piles and running used tires or putting together bent wheels and running them. even when he ran a bent wheel, it was polished to perfection. anytime you would look out there on the track you would see thousands of dollars in those cars out there weather it be in the paint job, motor or decals...bill was back at the shop spray painting the tailtank or putting brake lines on with zip ties. Bill really tried to take me under his wing this year and teach me how to work on the sprint car and teach me tricks of the trade, just like he learned how to do it. his goofy smile will be missed.

when i did chili cookoffs this year all over central PA, Bill helped, just like i was there to help him with the sprint car, he knew how much the cookoffs ment to me jus like i knew how much the sprint car ment to him, i labled him the meat coordinator...he cooked all the meat, he would dance around and yell TATONKA ( which is indian for buffalo) which i just started adding to my recipe. just one memorie of Bill. another time when he wanted to take the sprint car to a cookoff and have it on display in york, he would help little kids in and out of it , talking to the people and explaining what he did and where he raced. little kids looked up to him for that. a kid i'd like to mention is Coulton Kramer, he looked up to bill and i know he's hurtin right now, he thought alot of you coulton, don't forget that.
these are just some of the things that i can say about bill.

From Todd Zinn

While I cannot say that Billy and I hung out much away from racing I do consider him a friend. I first met Billy several years ago when he worked on the I07. Even then he possessed an intense, never-say-die attitude toward this wonderful sport and his involvement in it.

This passion eventually got him to where he wanted to be. Those that have never strapped into one of these cars can never know what is like or the addiction that the experience creates. Billy exemplified this passion. It was never about the size of the trailer or the number of spares. It was simply about accepting the challenge of racing against the best drivers in the country and living a dream.

This intensity was accompanied by a willingness to help others as well as a wonderful sense of humor. It was obvious that he coveted relationships with those around him. Perhaps the quote that best sums up the person that is Billy Kimmel was something he told me prior to the start of racing on Sunday. We were pitted next to him and I jokingly asked him about having competing chili sponsors on his car. His reply was “It’s not a big deal. I’m friends with both of them and they both make good chili.”

Thanks Billy. You’re an inspiration.

From Eric Stambaugh

I’ve known Billy Kimmel for a while. When I started 358 racing, Billy was helping Mark Coldren on his 410. His shop was just down Mountain Road from where I kept my car. Mountain Road in Dillsburg was kind of like Gasoline Alley: Rich Eichelberger, Tim Hershey, Stan Fleming, Steve Poplaski and I all had shops down there. On race nights, it was like a parade of rigs heading to the track. Before Billy had a race car, we’d be down there working on our car and Billy would blast by in his Mustang, grabbing gears and making noise. Mike Myers and I would be in the shop and hear a 302 go by and, without looking up, we’d say: “Billy.”

You know, real racers are pretty hard-core. Sprint racing kind of gets in you, consumes you and you can barely think of anything else. You’ll do anything to make it happen, beg, borrow, whatever. You become quick to lend a hand and learn not to be afraid to ask for help. You research, study, learn math and accounting, commit gear charts and tire circumferences to memory, you volunteer, help out others and hope for it in return. On nights you can’t race for whatever reason, you go to the track without really knowing why.

Billy Kimmel was one of these real racers, making it happen. While I am so sad that he is gone, I am proud of him for finding a way to do what he loved and happy to have known him.

From "A Fan"

just a couple weeks ago I was @ the grove for the first time in a
long time and I took notice that there was a van with a open trailer in the
pits and I asked my friend if he knew who was driving the white # 47 and he
told me it was Billy Kimmel .I replied back to him that it probably wont
get out of it's own way .Man was I wrong when he was out in warmups he was
driving it for everything it was worth. I quickly became a fan of his as
and he taught me a quick lesson in life and that is you do not have to have
a big budjet as long as you put your heart is into it and you have the
passion for it you can make your dreams come true.Thank You Billy Kimmel
for teaching me a life long lesson that one friday night I decided to come
back to williams grove to see a sprint car race

From John Westbrook

Billy was that type of guy that you were lucky to have as a friend. just last week it was about 830 at night and i needed a combo arm for a front end i was building for the race at the grove Sunday. Bill was the first guy i called for that part.

He was always willing to help me. Before the 07 season started i was looking for a frame to put together with an experimental front clip. Again bull offered me an old maxim that he had for 50 bucks. i bought that car from bill. once the front clip was on the car he made me bring it back to his shop so he could paint the frame and body for it RED! he hated red. he said "Westbrook white is cheaper and and come on it looks much better white!" haha but bill would always paint my stuff red causethat's what i liked.

That off season Bill painted bother of my cars my wings and anything i needed for free. never wanted a dime. not even a pizza from his favorite shop ALS.

Turns out that very car that i bought from Bill in the off season was that car that i drove all year. It was that car that i won in on Sunday night after bill had his wreck. I didn't want to race that race at all. But i knew that if Bill were around he would kick my A$$ cause i was starting 4th. Now i know that during that race there were times i thought of him and wondering how he was doing. Turns out i won that race. now i know that bill was riding with me during that race. and I'm so proud that i was able to call him my friends..............I'm so much for all the Memories bill and thank you for riding with me on Sunday night and making me look so good! you were a true friend to me. i wish i could have done more for you.

thanks again bill your a true friend that many should look up to

From Heather Beck

Hi I am Heather (Kitner) Beck I am Julie's oldest sister.  Billy has been apart of our family for many years since the shop was next door.  Billy is the kind of person that would do anything for you.  Julie and Billy would come over almost every Sunday to cook on the grill or just to hang out with us and play with Maddie our daughter.  Billy offered to help Scott with his truck to get it to run better.  When Billy got his motorcycle Julie and he came right over to show us the new bike.  One day when we were over at my parents house swimming and stuff Billy was mowing his yard with a push mower and ran over the hose and water were shooting out all over it was a funny moment when it happened.  Billy was that kind of funny person making jokes over things like that.  Our family will miss he very much.  Billy had the two great loves racing and Julie.

From Jordan Givler

On September 2, 2007, driver Billy Kimmel was killed at Williams Grove. Billy was like a brother to me. From the first day I started helping Mark Coldren until the night of the accident, me and Billy were great friends. Whether it was hanging at the shop or doing his website, Billy was always a great guy. So I ask, as we all race, just remember the 47, and the reason why he raced. Remember what he was about, what he did with the little that he had, and more importantly, the way he treated everyone around him and the person he was. He may have never won a feature race, but it doesn't matter. Billy was one of the greatest drivers in the pit area, and we'll never forget him.

Over the past week, life has been crazy. From working on Billy's dream of the t-shirt collection to informing fans all over the world of Billy's death, I faced something I hoped that I never had to face. Our fellow competitor, driver, and friend was gone. Sure, we heard about drivers that were killed several times year, but yet we don't consider it happening infront of our very eyes. And when we did think about it, we never thought it would be someone that WE knew well. We always figured it would be somewhere else, or someone else. But this time, it was Billy.

Many times this week, people asked me, what was my favorite memory of Billy? Though I have many great ones, one stood out, which shows just the type of guy Billy was. In 2004, when I was 14, Billy drove a car 34 1/2 owned by one of my other VERY good friends, John Wickard. The 34 1/2 and Mark Coldren's 07 were kept in the same shop. Well, we were supposed to race that night with Mark Coldren in the 07 at Port Royal, but the Port got rained out.

It was just me and Billy at the shop and he had me call my parents and tell them that he'd run me home later on. Then, he pulled out the 34 car, and threw his driver's suit at me and told me to put it on. Now, Billy is 6'4-5". I was probably 5 foot at the time, so this uniform was huge. He gave me his helmet and his gloves and strapped me into the car.

Jen, who lived next door at the time and is the sister of Billy's girlfriend Julie, stopped in and Billy asked her to go get her video camera. They filmed me sitting in the car, and then Billy got on the 4-wheeler and began to push me slowly around the race shop. He did that a few times then stopped the 4-wheeler. He walked beside the car and said "you need to see what it's like to drive one of these things."

So with the grass being wet, he put a ton of air in the rear tires. He took me up to a hill at the shop, and pushed me as fast as he could on the 4-wheeler down the hill. When I got to the corner of the race shop, I cranked the wheel to the left as hard as I could, and got the car to slide. We did this for about an hour, and Jen recorded the car everytime I came around the corner of the shop, sideways, with me, 14 years old, in a sprint car.

Afterwards, Billy gave me the nickname "The Bullet" saying that someday, they'd be announcing "Here comes The Bullet, Jordan Givler." From that day, everyday he called me, he'd ask "What's up, Bullet?" This is how Billy was. From calling to ask me to go eat to our runs down to Pancho's for the fun of it, we had some great times.

When I first started helping Mark Coldren, I wanted to drive a sprint car. As I became Mark's crew chief and then Cale's, I began to think that I don't know if I really want to drive and just be a crew chief. Recently it got to "No, I don't want to drive." Well, when Billy crashed in turn 4 that night, I first wondered why do I do this? Should I do this? As the days went by, my opinion went from maybe I shouldn't race to, what am I thinking? Billy would kick my *** if I got away from this.

So this has led to my new ambition. As the recent events may have kept others from wanting to drive, it refueled my want to drive. It made me realize why I do this. It made me see that nights of racing that seemed awful because of a mechanical failure just really weren't that bad. But more importantly, it told me to chase my dreams, and never stop.

I've been told recently that I have several of the same things in me that Billy did, especially starting with Mark Coldren at the same age as Billy. Being told that is probably the best compliment I've ever gotten. So as I end this, I want to say that I now have a new dream. Someday, I want do what Billy did. I'm not sure why I want to. Whether to honor Billy, or just because deep down I always wanted to drive.

But once again, I want to get behind the wheel of a sprint car someday. When will that day be? Who knows. I couldn't be happier being Cale's crew chief. 10 years? 20 years? 30 years? I don't know. But all I do know is that someday, somewhere, I will drive a sprint car. And that sprint car is going to be number 47.

 

From John Maneval

I can't claim to be a big race fan, so I knew Bill outside racing.  However in knowing Bill, you heard about racing... A LOT.  He lived for it.  Years ago I remember he talked all the time about wanting to race sprint cars.  Bill's first experience driving a sprint car was either a racing school of some sort or maybe someone just let him take their car out for some hot laps, I don't recall exactly.  What I do recall is Bill's enthusiasm as he recounted every detail of those few laps, how the car handled, the power it had.  He was so excited he just seemed like a big kid, it was refreshing.
My favorite Bill story is probably his 21st birthday celebration.  I realized he was the first person I celebrated a 21st birthday with, probably because I was only 19.  Bill had the party at the Bowling Alley, I think so his under 21 friends could join in.  That was like Bill though, always making people feel welcome, and constantly inviting people to the races.  Anyways, Bill celebrated a bit too hard, as folks tend to do on their 21st birthdays, and was spending some time hugging the porcelain.  I went in to see if  he was OK, and gave him a few mints to aleviate any bad taste in his mouth.  Everytime I saw Bill after that he say "Here's the guy who gave me Lifesavers while I was in the bathroom puking on my birthday!"  I'd usually reply something along the lines of "but you ate them, they helped, right?", to which he'd smile and say "yeah, thanks."  Yes, that was a fun night, nights with Bill usually were.  He will be missed.