Raymond Beadle Has Died – All Time Drag Racing Great Was Phenomenal Driver, Visionary Promoter, Loved The World Over

Raymond Beadle Has Died – All Time Drag Racing Great Was Phenomenal Driver, Visionary Promoter, Loved The World Over

We hate writing these. Funny car giant Raymond Beadle has died. We had been hearing that Beadle was having some medical issues and were hoping for the best but it seems as though that will not be the case. The man lived an incredible life and forged himself a career both in drag racing and business that the rest of us stand in awe of. He was a man who saw the sport of drag racing differently than most did in his era. He took a foundering Blue Max operation and in the span of less than a year he established the car as a stout runner and by the end of the decade he and Harry Schmidt had the most dominant and all conquering funny car in the world. They figured out that performance and marketing went hand in hand and the faster they went, the harder they promoted themselves. The plan worked and for a time, they were probably the most famous car/driver/tuner trio in the world.

Sometimes people find each other at the right moment, even when that moment doesn’t seem like it for either part involved. Such was the case with Raymond Beadle and Harry Schmidt. Beadle was coming to the end of a contract that had not been renewed with Don Schumacher, Schmidt had parked his funny car with the expectation of selling the operation and leaving the sport. The two barely knew one another when Beadle called and convinced Schmidt that they should give it one last go on the road for the 1975 season. Thankfully Schmidt agreed and with him turning the screws and Beadle driving the car as well as promoting and merchandising the thing, their success was a virtual guarantee, but they didn’t know that yet. The best thing that happened for them in 1975 and the worst thing that happened for everyone else was when it all came together for the pair at the 1975 US Nationals and they won the biggest drag race in the world. This launched the simmering team into a full boil and Beadle pounced on every opportunity. He cranked up the car’s appearance fee, added the military medal that the car was named for into the paint scheme, and had shirts printed up by the thousands. The money poured in and the money helped to feed the operation, which kept them on top.

Schmidt’s role with the car began to diminish as he grew weary of the road life and Beadle bought more and more of Schmidt’s share until he was the sole owner. Beadle’s rise came right about the same time as Don Prudhomme’s insane dominance of the funny car period and Beadle proved that he was one of the few that could actually trade blows with the all-conquering Prudhomme. By the late 1970s it was reported that Beadle’s funny car budget was in the range of a half million dollars per year. That was astronomical money at the time and it was proof positive at just how huge the Blue Max name had become.

Money does not equal success directly but when you combine it with talent, magical things happen. Raymond Beadle’s three straight NHRA funny car championships were proof of that magic. With Dale Emery, “Waterbed” Fred Miller, Rich Guasco, and Dale Gannt turning the screws, the guys were virtually unstoppable during the early 1980s. The video we have at the bottom of the page shows a famous wreck from 1982 at the Gatornationals where Beadle crashed, ended up on his wheels, and the got out of the car which sent the crowd into an incredible frenzy. You won’t believe it. Beadle’s title streak stopped at three when he was unable to close the deal in 1982, still an amazing feat.

Beadle was voted the 20th greatest driver in NHRA history, he is in the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame, he has been honored at drag races across the country and will forever be held among the true greats of the sport both in the driving and the promotional sense. They didn’t make many like Raymond Beadle and they never will. His presence at the track and in the sport will be missed.


Picture 13




  • Share This
  • Pinterest
  • 0

8 thoughts on “Raymond Beadle Has Died – All Time Drag Racing Great Was Phenomenal Driver, Visionary Promoter, Loved The World Over

  1. Al Meadows

    I never personally met Raymond beadle, but I knew Rich Guasco very well. Some of the stories….
    May Raymond rest in eternal peace.

  2. Hellzapop'n

    Bummer. The most iconic female pit wear in the late 70s and early 80s was a Blue Max halter top. Great racer and a great merchandiser.

  3. mike thermos (NOS)

    Remember Raymond well. Worked with Dale Emory on installing nitrous on the car. Just saw Dale and Waterbed, Sat, at the Hot Rod reunion. Raymond was a true “Racer” icon. Had the “Baddest” funny car at the time. You were always great to watch. We’re going to miss you. R.I.P. Ray, Mike Thermos

  4. Daniel Brabant

    From my childhood to early adolescence, you were my hero. The Blue Max cars from 1975 to 1989 were always my favorite. I finally saw you win in 1984 at the NHRA Summernationals.

    Thank for the incredible and unique memories.

    Without knowing, you brought a lot of good in many people heart. All I can had is to tell you “Mission Accomplish” Mr. Beadle.

    May your great soul R.I.P.

    Just a fan,

    Daniel Brabant
    Gatineau, Canada

  5. Chaun Benfield

    We will miss you Raymond Beadle, You have done so much inside and outside the motorsports world and for many others too, the stories that can be told, Thoughts and prayers for family and friends, God Speed.

  6. Bobby Rashid

    The world of Drag Racing has produced a handful of Titan competitors. Certainly Raymond Beadle and the Blue Max was in that elite group.Enjoyed your car and persona immensely.RIP my friend!


    My dad raced with and hung out with Ray back in the day at U.S. 30 dragway in Valparaiso In. and I got to meet him as a youngster and he was a great guy. He use to let me sit in the car when they were warming it up……and being 5 years old it changed my life. God speed Raymond. You will be missed. Steven and Rich Mikulski.

Comments are closed.