One of the greatest drag racers of all-time, Raymond Beadle, passed away. There are very few drag racers – other than my dad – that I looked up to, however Blue Max Funny Car driver Raymond Beadle was one. The sport lost a legend, but he will live in the hearts of racers forever.
Most famously known as the driver of the Blue Max, Beadle was the man who got me interested in drag racing when I was a teenager. Yes, my father was quite successful, yet I was only five when he retired the first time. Still, the both of us would go to Irwindale, Ontario and of course OCIR (Orange County International Raceway) to watch drag racing in the ‘70s. What caught my attention were the giant fields of Funny Cars, especially at OCIR. And it was there that I first noticed the Blue Max.
Bigger than life?
I can’t tell you what grabbed my interest in Beadle or the Blue Max. As a Texan, he wasn’t even a local, but that didn’t deter my interest. To me – and probably a lot of others – he was the star of the show.
Sure, there were big names like the Jungle Jim, the Snake and Mongoose, who had certainly my attention since I grew up with Hot Wheels. Nevertheless, as far as I was concerned, there was only one driver and car: Raymond Beadle and the Blue Max overshadowed all others.
I was such a huge fan of Beadles, I even followed his NASCAR team and became a Rusty Wallace fan, going to Riverside every year to root him on – eventually winning a championship in Winston Cup.
I’ve followed Beadle fairly closely even lately, becoming a friend of his on Facebook some years back. I known that he almost died this past summer when he had a heart attack. He was lucky enough to survive that difficulty but obviously the issue must have persisted because he recently was hospitalized with heart and kidney problems.
For all his success in racing, Beadle was rewarded by being inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame a little more than two months ago – ironically, Wallace was also inducted this year.
Beadle was 70 years old when he died Monday morning (October 20), but the memory of his exploits including three straight NHRA championships from ’79 to ’81 will live infamy … and unquestionably this fan will always remember Raymond Beadle and the Blue Max.
Daryle W. Hier