Raymond Beadle

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Raymond Beadle
Born(1943-12-16)December 16, 1943
Spur, Texas
DiedOctober 20, 2014(2014-10-20) (aged 70)
Dallas, Texas
Retired1987 (as racer), 1990 (as owner)
Years active1970s–1990
TeamsDon Schumacher Racing; Blue Max Racing
Best finish1st (7 times) in 1975, 1976, 1979–1981, 1989
2014Motorsports Hall of Fame of America

Raymond Beadle (December 16, 1943 – October 20, 2014) was an American drag racer and auto racing team owner.

Beadle was perhaps best known as the driver and owner of the Blue Max Top Fuel funny car. Beadle won three consecutive NHRA Funny Car championships from 1979 to 1981 and three IHRA Funny Car championships, 1975–76 and 1981.

In NASCAR, Beadle owned a Winston Cup team from 1983 to 1990, winning the 1989 Winston Championship with driver Rusty Wallace. Beadle's car number was 27 and his car was usually a Pontiac.[1]

He also owned a World of Outlaws sprint car, driven by Sammy Swindell.

Drag racing career[edit]

Almost immediately after joining Harry Schmidt's Blue Max team, Beadle rivaled "Jungle Jim" Liberman in popularity and Don Prudhomme in on-track success.[citation needed] By the end of his first year with the Max, Beadle won the NHRA U.S. Nationals Funny Car class, and by the end of the decade, he was the reigning world champion and a bona fide superstar.

Beadle's funny car (rear), driven by Tom McEwen in 1987, facing off against Kenny Bernstein

Beadle never claimed to be a tuner, and Schmidt was not interested in driving, promoting, or worrying about the day-to-day business of racing. Beadle was. He had the Blue Max name copyrighted, lined up sponsors and race dates, and immediately demanded four times what Schmidt had commanded in appearance fees, and got it.[citation needed]

In 1975, the car had been Harry Schmidt's Blue Max, and in 1976, it said Beadle and Schmidt. The 1977 car, also a Ford Mustang II,[citation needed] was Beadle's alone, sponsored by English Leather and Napa Regal Ride.[citation needed]

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.{{cn|date=September 2018} In 1980, he won in Columbus, Denver, and Seattle, was runner-up in Gainesville and Ontario, and defended the championship.[citation needed] In 1981, he won the title a third time, and again Prudhomme was second. The Blue Max, now a Plymouth Horizon, reached the final round four times in 1981 and again won NHRA's most prestigious event, 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 year's end.[citation needed] In this period, Beadle also "set a new standard for apparel marketing to fans".[2]

In 1983, Beadle won just once, at the Springnationals,[citation needed] 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[citation needed] in 1985, and Lombardo won the U.S. Nationals, defeating Dale Pulde's Miller High Life-sponsored Buick Regal and giving Beadle his last great win.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

NASCAR owner[edit]

Tim Richmond driving Beadle's No. 27 car in 1983.

Beadle entered NASCAR Winston Cup as a team owner in 1983 by buying out the equipment of M.C. Anderson, continuing with Anderson's No. 27 number.[3]

He started with sponsorship from Old Milwaukee beer and driver Tim Richmond. Mixed success followed for Beadle's Blue Max Racing team.

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 No. 27 Kodiak Pontiac. Jimmy Makar was the chassis specialist during that 1989 championship.[4]

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.[5]

For 1990, the Kodiak sponsorship moved to Hendrick Motorsports to sponsor the No. 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.[5]

Wallace left Beadle's team in 1990.[6]

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 No. 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.[7]

During the 1989 Championship, Beadle's car with Rusty Wallace as a driver, battled the Richard Childress Racing car driven by Dale Earnhardt, Sr., for the Cup title. Both Beadle and Earnhardt's sons are connected together. Ryan Beadle, an attorney, is General Counsel for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s motorsport operations, JR Motorsports. Tyler Reddick noted that during the Old Milwaukee throwback car announcement, crediting Ryan Beadle for negotiating the deal.[8]


In July 2014, Beadle suffered a heart attack and underwent surgery to relieve artery blockages. Beadle died on October 20 of the same year.[9]


  • He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2014[10]
  • Finalist for 2014 International Motorsports Hall of Fame[11]
  • Ranked 20th on the National Hot Rod Association Top 50 Drivers, 1951–2000[12]
  • Member of the 11th class of inductees into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame[13]
  • 2006 recipient of the Bruton Smith Legends Award in the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame[14]
  • American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association's All-American team in 1980


  1. ^ Raymond Beadle Winston Cup Owner Statistics - Racing-Reference.info
  2. ^ NHRA.com (retrieved 22 September 2018)
  3. ^ http://www.racingone.com/article.aspx?artnum=20359[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-12. Retrieved 2007-11-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Wallace a Million-Dollar Man - New York Times
  6. ^ Wallace Revs Up in Bid for Title - New York Times
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2014-01-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "BEADLE, TITLE-WINNING TEAM OWNER, DIES AT 70". NASCAR. October 20, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2014.
  10. ^ Raymond Beadle at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Raymond Beadle #20 - NHRA profile Archived 2005-08-31 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2014-01-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-16. Retrieved 2014-01-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)