Grady Wade grew up just down the street from future Wichita, Kansas, racing legend, LaVern Nance, so the chances of Grady becoming a racer was about 100%. Nance built a supermodified in the late-1950s which Wade drove, however the team did not win much. By 1963, armed with more experience, Wade had become a contender, narrowly losing the 81 Speedway title to Forest Coleman.
Late in the 1964 season, sprint car owner, Pius Selenke, tabbed Grady for the seat of his sprint car and together they won the 1965 Big Car Racing Association (BCRA) championship. Chet Wilson, owner of the famed “Offy Killer,” sprint car called Grady in 1966, and they won International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) features at Des Moines, Iowa, and Granite City, Illinois, with Grady also garnering IMCA “Rookie of the Year.”
Wade crashed the Wilson Chevy at the Winternational Sprints in Tampa, Florida early in the 1967 year, knocking the car out of competition for the balance of the schedule. Four the reason of the season, Wade joined the Speedway Motors team, and developed the first big-block Chevy to be used in sprint car competition. Wade and Wilson regrouped in 1968, winning features at Des Moines, Sedalia and twice at Topeka, Kansas.
For the 1969 season, Grade went back to supermodified racing, winning the Winter Nationals at Enid, Oklahoma. Driving mostly for John Schippert, Grady was a constant threat throughout the southwest.
He teamed with Chet Wilson’s son, Jerry in 1972 and once again narrowly lost the 81 Speedway title, this time to Dale Reed. In October he climbed aboard the Chet Wilson Chevy one more time, winning the IMCA event at Oklahoma City.
Wade went back to Schippert in 1974 and ’75 and won consistently at Enid, Dodge City, Kansas, Wichita (81) and on the National Championship Racing Association (NCRA) circuit. About halfway through the 1975 season, Grady saw a business opportunity open up in Little Rock, Arkansas that was too good to pass up. As a result, he hung up his helmet for good, retiring at the height of his career.