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Racing Pioneer Beadle Passes Away

| , RacinToday.com Monday, October 20 2014

Raymond Beadle, active in drag racing and NASCAR, has passed away.

Raymond Beadle, an icon of Texas motor racing, passed away Monday at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. The three-time NHRA Funny Car world champion was 70.

At the peak of his success, Beadle campaigned cars in NASCAR, NHRA, IHRA and the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and was owner of Chaparral Trailer Company.

Widely-credited with creating the motor racing collectibles business as owner of Blue Max Racing, Inc., the native Texan was inducted earlier this year into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Novi, Mich. In 1980 he was named to the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association All-America team. Beadle also is a member of the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in Ocala, Fla.

In addition to his NHRA championships, Beadle won three titles in the rival IHRA series and, in 1989, won NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series championship with driver Rusty Wallace. It was Wallace’s only championship in NASCAR’s premier series, now known as Sprint Cup.

Beadle got his start in NHRA in the early 1970s driving for team-owners Prentiss Cunningham, Mike Burkhart and Don Schumacher. Beadle launched his own team with Harry Schmidt in 1974 and the duo raced to 13 NHRA national event victories in 28 final-round appearances and won world championship titles in 1979, 1980 and 1981. He was a two-time winner of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, claiming victories at the world’s most prestigious drag race in 1975 and 1981.

A native of Spur, Texas, Beadle studied marketing while attending Texas Tech University in Lubbock and applied those lessons to building the Blue Max brand originated by former partner Schmidt. Beadle began selling T-shirts, hats, hat pins, halter tops, jackets, cup holders and all manner of souvenirs emblazoned with the Blue Max logo patterned after the German military medal from which the George Peppard movie, “The Blue Max,” derived its name.

As a competitor, Beadle was unflappable and was ranked No. 20 on the list of the top drivers through the NHRA’s first 50 years. In addition to his victories, Beadle was owner of the car John Lombardo Sr. drove to victory in the 1985 U.S. Nationals.

One of the first team owners to secure non-automotive sponsorship in drag racing, Beadle always insisted that his cars look as good as they performed. That philosophy extended into NASCAR, where he operated successfully from 1983 through 1989, first with the late Tim Richmond and later with Wallace.

Beadle also briefly fielded a Blue Max Top Fuel dragster driven by Dave Settles and a World of Outlaws Sprint Car driven by dirt-track icon Sammy Swindell.

Beadle is best known for ending Don “The Snake” Prudhomme’s four-year reign as NHRA Funny Car world champion. Beadle is one of only four Funny Car drivers in NHRA history to have won at least three consecutive championships. His Blue Max Funny Car was one of the most popular machines on the national drag racing match-race circuit.

Retired as a driver since 1987 and as an owner since 1990, Beadle had dabbled in cattle and quarter horses but recently had moved back to Dallas with his wife, Roz.

NASCAR issued the following statement:

“Raymond Beadle had a brief, but prolific, career in NASCAR. A true competitor whose love of auto racing led him to ownership in a variety of motorsport disciplines, his 1989 NASCAR premier series championship with Rusty Wallace remains one of the more popular titles in the sport’s history. NASCAR offers its deepest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

| , RacinToday.com Monday, October 20 2014
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