He was one of drag racing’s true gentlemen. Dick LaHaie was a racer that it was nearly impossible to root against. He and his daughter Kim were sentimental favorites during their rise to top fuel championship status in the 1980s and his career continued on for decades racking up wins and championships as a thoughtful and skilled crew chief. From his own 1987 NHRA top fuel championship as a driver and owner to the 1993 and 1994 Scott Kalitta championships as well as the 2001 and 2002 top fuel top fuel championships he crew chiefed Larry Dixon to, the guy was simply fantastic. Through the entirety of his career he maintained a level of respect, dignity, and quiet determination that made him one of the sport’s most widely respected men in the sport. He was 76 years old at the time of his passing.
Rather than rattle off a load of career stats, it seems way more appropriate to show you one of Dick’s race wins which we will do below. He and Kim were rising to the top of their game by the time 1985 rolled around and in this case they were competing at the 1985 ADRA SpringNationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The ADRA was a drag racing organization started from the shattered remains of the AHRA. Most of the old AHRA officials, including Jim Tice Jr. gathered to start the organization which did not have a very long history but this Tulsa race was a shining spot. The place is jammed.
Outside of the awesome LaHaie win, there are other neat parts of this video like the Chris Karamesines fire burnout! The practice was rare as hens teeth in 1984 and when you see Karamesines pull off the flaming fun, it’ll make you smile. There are other great names here like Frank Bradley and there’s a strapping Don Garlits as the reporter at the event, seemingly one of his first times carrying this role, at least by how he describes himself.
We’re sad that Dick LaHaie passed. The man was a craftsman, a tuner, a driver, and a full on word champion across multiple disciplines of the sport. He was a once in a generation man and he will be missed.