by Jon Asher
courtesy of CompetitionPlus.com
Shortly after the New Year I was asked by the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America if I'd write a short biography for the induction of Raymond Beadle. The ceremony was slated for August, so I had plenty of time, and while I was honored to have been asked, there was a problem. The copy had to be no more than 500 words due to space limitations. How do you compress an individual's stellar career in racing into so few words, particularly when that person's fingerprints are all over the history of not only drag racing, but stock car racing as well? And how can you possibly capture the essence of a personality as gregarious and outrageous as was Beadle's in just a few paragraphs?
Raymond's career demanded more than 500 words if for no other reason than the man himself was bigger than that. He had a major impact on drag racing, one that went far beyond mere statistics. Yes, he was an NHRA champion (three times consecutively!) and a two-time winner of the U.S. Nationals (among many other victories), but those are just numbers, and Beadle was more than that, too. That he would also prove successful in NASCAR racing surprised many, but he knew talent when he spotted it, and together with driver Rusty Wallace (another 2014 Hall of Fame inductee) they won the '89 Cup championship. Less than a handful of owner/drivers can claim such lofty accomplishments on their resumes.
There's a somewhat regional aspect to the history of drag racing, and while these might be generalities, there's nevertheless some truth to the theory that California and the West Coast was where Top Fuel grew up. At the same time the East Coast was the breeding ground for Funny Cars and hot doorslammers, while the Midwest was Gasser country. And then there was that whole separate universe of Texas drag racing. Some of the cars were as crude as the oil bubbling up out of the ground, but you knew a Texas racer the moment you saw him. From the top of his Stetson to the tips of his razor-pointed Justins, you knew what you were looking at. But here's the thing. Beadle rarely fit within that comfortable frame. Sure, he wore his share of hats and boots, but when the moment demanded it he could be as urbane as the slickest New York bond trader or Washington Beltway insider. And where's the evidence for that? Just look at the sponsor names his cars carried over the years.
DETROIT (August 6, 2014) – An enthusiastic and at times humbled audience of family, friends, fans and motorsports insiders gathered Wednesday evening in downtown Detroit to usher in an equally impressive and accomplished group of 2014 inductees at the 26th Annual Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Ceremony at the historic Fillmore Theater.
The 2014 class included event attendees Rusty Wallace (Stock Cars) and Arie Luyendyk (Open Wheel) in addition to sports car racing visionaries Jim France and Dr. Don Panoz who jointly accepted the Hall's Bob Russo Heritage Award for outstanding contributions to the motorsports industry.
Wallace, inducted by his former NASCAR team owner Roger Penske, was ushered into the Hall in the final presentation of the night.
"I see some of the world's greatest drivers and champions here tonight and it has humbled me to be here," said Wallace, who won the 1989 NASCAR Cup Championship. "It's an incredible honor. Thank you very much for inducting me into the Motorsport Hall of Fame."
Luyendyk shared with the crowd how he feels his induction is the crowning moment of an outstanding career that saw him win two Indianapolis 500s in 1990 and 1997.
"It is a great honor to be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame," Luyendyk said. "It is something that almost closes a chapter in my life. I am obviously retired from racing. This is probably one of the last victories I will have in racing. Thank you very much."
DETROIT (August 5, 2014) - On the eve of the 26th Induction Ceremony, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America announced Tuesday an ambitious $7.5M campaign to build a new, permanent home at Daytona International Speedway. The move coincides with the scheduled January 2016 completion of DAYTONA Rising, the Speedway's $400 million renovation project currently underway. Once it's completed, the Hall of Fame will be one of the main stops on every track tour – welcoming and enthralling hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.
"Daytona is the perfect home for the Hall of Fame," said MSHF President Ron Watson, "because it is home or near home to all the forms of motorsports the Hall of Fame honors. The biggest stock car race, the biggest sports car race, the biggest motorcycle race, as well as an area known for great achievements in drag racing, powerboating and aviation."