December 16, 1943|
|Died||October 20, 2014
|Retired||1987 (as racer), 1990 (as owner)|
|Teams||Don Schumacher Racing; Blue Max Racing|
|Best finish||1st (7 times) in 1975, 1976, 1979-1981, 1989|
|2014||Motorsports Hall of Fame of America|
Raymond Beadle was an American drag racer and auto racing team owner.
Beadle was perhaps best known as the driver and owner of the "Blue Max" Funny Car. Beadle won three consecutive NHRA Funny Car championships from 1979 to 1981 and three IHRA Funny Car championships, 1975-6 and 1981.
In NASCAR, Beadle owned a NASCAR Winston Cup Series team from 1983 to 1990, winning the 1989 Winston Cup Series Championship with driver Rusty Wallace. His team's car number was always #27 and his car was usually a Pontiac.
Drag racing career
Almost immediately after jump-starting Harry Schmidt's Blue Max team, Beadle rivaled "Jungle" Jim Liberman in popularity and Don Prudhomme in on-track success. By the end of his first year with the Max, Beadle was the U.S. Nationals champion, and by the end of the decade, he was the reigning world champ and a bona-fide superstar.
Beadle never claimed to be a tuner, and Schmidt wasn't interested in driving, promoting, or worrying about the day-to-day business of racing. Beadle was. He had the Blue Max name copyrighted, incorporated the medal from which the Blue Max movie got its name into the paint scheme, lined up sponsors and race dates, and immediately demanded four times what Schmidt had commanded in appearance fees and got it. In 1975, the car had been Harry Schmidt's Blue Max, and in 1976, it said Beadle & Schmidt. The '77 car, also a Mustang II, was Beadle's alone, sponsored by English Leather and Napa Regal Ride. Beadle won the NHRA championship in 1979 with two wins in five finals against Tom Hoover, Gary Burgin, Billy Meyer, a young John Force, and Jim Dunn. In 1980, he won in Columbus, Denver, and Seattle, was runner-up in Gainesville and Ontario, and defended the championship. In 1981, he won the title a third time, and again Prudhomme was second. The Blue Max, now a Plymouth Horizon, reached the final four times in 1981 and won the biggest, the U.S. Nationals. Driving a Ford EXP in 1982, Beadle went after a fourth straight championship, but slipped to fifth in the points standings by years’ end. In 1983, Beadle won just once, at the Springnationals, and in 1984, he scored back-to-back wins, in Englishtown and Denver, with another blue Mustang. Beadle put veteran "Lil' John" Lombardo in his red and blue Schlitz Blue Max in 1985, and Lombardo won the U.S. Nationals, defeating Dale Pulde's Miller High Life Buick Regal and giving Beadle his last great win. Beadle got back in the seat in 1987 and reached the final round of two races late that year. Richard Tharp, one of the car's original drivers when Schmidt owned the car, drove in 1988.
Beadle entered NASCAR Winston Cup as a team owner in 1983 by buying out the equipment of M.C. Anderson, continuing with Anderson's #27 number.
When Richmond moved to Hendrick Motorsports in 1986, Beadle picked up Rusty Wallace. In its penultimate year of operation, the team won the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup title, with Wallace driving the #27 Kodiak Pontiac. Jimmy Makar was the chassis specialist during that 1989 championship.
The 1989 championship year was reportedly marked with acrimony between Wallace and Beadle. However, Wallace remained under contract with the team for the 1990 season.
For 1990, the Kodiak sponsorship moved to Hendrick Motorsports to sponsor the #25, and Beadle's team was sponsored by Miller Genuine Draft beer. The four-year sponsorship deal was specifically tied to Rusty Wallace, meaning it went where the 1989 champ went as well.
Beadle's team suspended operations and left Winston Cup at the end of the 1990 season. Penske acquired their equipment and the car runs today as the #2 Miller Lite car driven by Brad Keselowski.
Post-racing, Beadle operated cattle ranches in West Texas and Arkansas, as well as a quarter horse farm near Valley View, Texas. He said he opened the ranch at least partially as a way to entertain sponsors while racing and bred grand champions at both.
- He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2014
- Finalist for 2014 International Motorsports Hall of Fame
- Ranked 20th on the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951-2000
- Member of the 11th class of inductees into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame
- 2006 recipient of the Bruton Smith Legends Award in the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame
- American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association's All-American team in 1980
- Raymond Beadle Winston Cup Owner Statistics - Racing-Reference.info
- Wallace a Million-Dollar Man - New York Times
- Wallace Revs Up in Bid for Title - New York Times
- Raymond Beadle #20 - NHRA profile