DALLAS – staff report — NHRA photo —
Championship drag racer and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship car owner Raymond Beadle died Monday morning Baylor University Medical Center in Texas.
He was 70 years old.
Beadle is best known for his days driving the Blue Max Funny Car. For many years Beadle was the chief on-track rival of Jim Liberman and Don Prudhomme. In 1975, Beadle teamed up with Harry Schmidt’s Blue Max Racing team.
Success followed in a stunning way. The team won the 1975 U.S. Nationals, upending Prudhomme in the finals in one of the most shocking upsets in NHRA history, setting an NHRA National E.T. record in the process.
By 1977 Beadle had bought out Schmidt and owned the Blue Max team outright. In 1979 Beadle drove to the first of three consecutive NHRA Funny Car championships, ending the four-year title reign of Prudhomme. Beadle won 13 NHRA national events during his career.
“I was very sad to hear that Raymond Beadle had passed. I really, really liked the guy and admired him,” said Prudhomme of his longtime friend’s passing. “We always remained close, even during the days when we were racing against each other. He did so much in drag racing and in NASCAR. He led a life that most people could only dream of, like a high-stakes gambler, and was a cool guy to be around. When our rat pack of a group got together, he was at the top of the heap. I was glad to be a buddy of his, and he is going to be missed.”
Beadle also formed a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team in 1983 with Tim Richmond as his driver. Richmond won twice in Beadle’s cars before departing for Hendrick Motorsports in 1986.
With Richmond gone, Beadle signed Rusty Wallace to drive his No. 27 Kodiak-sponsored machines. The duo found immediate success, with Wallace winning two races in 1986. After two wins in 1987 and six in 1988, Wallace and Beadle combined to win six races and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 1989.
Beadle shuttered his Sprint Cup operation following the 1990 season when Wallace left the team to drive for Roger Penske.
In addition to owning a team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Beadle also owned a World of Outlaws entry driven by Sammy Swindell during the same time period.
Beadle is survived by his wife, Roz, son Ryan, daughters Tara and Amber Campisi, brother Ralph Beadle and sister, Debbie Sartain.