Funny Car champ, NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle dies

Beadle's team gave Rusty Wallace his only championship.

Raymond Beadle, an icon of Texas motor racing, passed away today at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.  The three-time NHRA World Funny Car Champion (1979-81) would have turned 71 this December. In the photo above, Beadle, left, accepts a Legends Award from track owner Bruton Smith.

Widely-credited with creating the motor racing collectibles business as owner of Blue Max Racing, Inc., the Texan was inducted earlier this year into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Detroit.

At the peak of his success, Beadle successfully campaigned cars in NASCAR, NHRA, IHRA and the World of Outlaws sprint car series and was owner of Chaparral Trailer Company.

In addition to his NHRA championships, he won three series titles in the rival IHRA series and, in 1989, won NASCAR’s Winston Cup championship with driver Rusty Wallace.  It was Wallace’s only championship in NASCAR’s top level series.

A native of Spur, Texas, Beadle studied marketing while attending Texas Tech and applied those lessons to building the Blue Max brand originated by former partner Harry Schmidt. 

'The Blue Max'

He began selling T-shirts, hats, hat pins, halter tops, jackets, cup holders and all other 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 driver, he was virtually unflappable and was No. 20 on the list of the top drivers through the NHRA’s first 50 years.  In addition to his own victories, he was owner of the car that John Lombardo Sr. drove to victory in the 1985 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Ind., a race he himself had won 10 years earlier.

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 in the harnesses and later with Wallace.

He also briefly fielded a Blue Max Top Fuel dragster driven by Dave Settles and a WoO sprint car driven by Sammy Swindell.

On the track, he is best known for ending Don Prudhomme’s four-year reign as NHRA Funny Car champion. 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. 

Dave Densmore

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Don Prudhomme , Sammy Swindell , Tim Richmond
Article type Obituary
Tags blue max, dave settles