Makayla Grote

CORONA, California (April 24, 2018) – The dreamer is gone but not the dream, so in a little less than two weeks the Makayla Grote Racing team will make its debut in the Lucas Oil Modified Series at The Bull Ring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Makayla won’t be there when the team tries to qualify for the May 5 General Tire 75 presented by SuperClean, however. She was stabbed numerous times and died at Longmont (Colorado) United Hospital last November 18, three weeks after her 20th birthday.

Her assailant, Aiden von Grabow, was arrested and charged with 11 felony counts, among them first-degree murder, attempted murder, menacing and harassment. Von Grabow, who was 15 at the time, is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing June 7, at which time it is anticipated that a date will be set for his trial as an adult.

A week after Makayla’s death, during a celebration of her life, more than 70 race cars made five slow laps of the three-eighths-mile paved oval at Colorado National Speedway (CNS). She had twice been named the track’s Sportsman of the Year during the six years she had raced there, and last year drove her first race in a Grand American Modified to prepare for this year.

Her dream was to race full-time in the Lucas Oil Modified Series presented by MAVTV, then move to the NASCAR K&N series and, hopefully, to one of NASCAR’s major series.

“After all that happened I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Troy Grote, her father and crew chief. “I kind of shut down for a while. She wanted to do the Lucas series and go from there to K&N, so I told Adam (Pechman) what the idea was – to put a car together with her colors and number (97), run a few races and dedicate the whole year to her. I wanted to follow Makayla’s dream.”

Pechman, a 21-year-old who has raced Legends Cars and Pro Trucks at CNS and Las Vergas, said he needed some time to decide what he wanted to do too.

“About a week and a half after Makayla’s death Troy asked me if I’d like to race the Modified in her honor,” said Pechman, who had been friends with her since middle school. “I waited about a week and a half or two weeks before I sat down with him and made the decision to do it. I knew there were big shoes to fill and an overall great person I’d be filling in for.

“I’m definitely excited for the opportunity Troy gave me. I can’t wait to get out on the track and make Makayla and her whole family proud.”

The car is a new BMF Chevrolet in the final stages of preparation for the May 5 race and Pechman said he’s hoping to be able to test it for the first time this weekend at Tucson (Arizona) Speedway.

The team is based in Surprise, Arizona, a couple of hours away from Tucson on the northwest side of Phoenix. That’s where Grote, his family (wife Denette, daughter Nicole and son Justin) and Pechman live now. Grote said he and Justin moved there from Colorado about a year ago to accept a job offer, and Pechman followed for the same reason.

Grote said both Mikayla and Nicole were planning to attend Arizona State University, so the job offer seemingly couldn’t have come at a better time, even if it meant that Denette and the girls would have to remain in Colorado for a while.

Then Makayla was trapped in the stairwell of a Longmont apartment house and stabbed repeatedly by von Grabow, who law enforcement officials allege had written a “death list” that reportedly included the name of Nicole, who had been his teammate in cross-country at Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, Colorado.

In early March, during a hearing to determine whether von Grabow would be tried as an adult or juvenile, Grote testified tearfully about losing the young lady who “wasn’t just my daughter; she was my best friend.”

He said there’s an emotional price to be paid for the tribute season, too.

“It keeps it all alive too much,” he said. “It hurts me a lot when I go out in the garage to work on the car. Not having her out there has been hard on me. But I know she wouldn’t want me to quit, so we’ll fight through the pain and get it done.”

Next Event

Lucas Oil
Modified Banquet

December 1, 2018
Driver Meeting: 3pm AZ Time

BlueWater Resort Casino logo

Blue Water Resort & Casino
11300 Resort Drive
Parker, AZ 85344

Phone: 1-928-669-7000
Code: 5762 Lucas Oil Modified Banquet
Hotel Room Rate: $88.95 Plus Tax