J. D. McDuffie

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J. D. McDuffie
McDuffieTheGlen1991-07.jpg
Born (1938-12-05)December 5, 1938
Upper Little River Township, Harnett County, North Carolina
Died August 11, 1991(1991-08-11) (aged 52)
Watkins Glen, New York
Cause of death Racing accident at Watkins Glen International during the Bud at the Glen
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career
653 races run over 28 years
Best finish 9th (1971)
First race 1963 Speedorama 200 (Myrtle Beach)
Last race 1991 Budweiser at The Glen (Watkins Glen)
Wins Top tens Poles
0 106 1

John Delphus "J.D." McDuffie, Jr. (December 5, 1938 – August 11, 1991) was an American racing driver. He competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series from 1963 to 1991, collecting 106 Top 10 finishes during his career and holding the record for most starts in NASCAR's top level without a win. He died in a racing accident during the Budweiser at The Glen at Watkins Glen International in 1991.

Career[edit]

After attending his first race in Bowman Gray Stadium at the age of ten, McDuffie was inspired by racers Curtis Turner, Glenn Wood, Billy Myers, and others to become a race car driver.

McDuffie won several small races throughout the Carolinas including a track championship at a small dirt track near Rockingham, North Carolina. McDuffie made his NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) debut in 1963 at the Rambi Speedway near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina driving Curtis Turner’s old 1961 Ford. Though McDuffie was an expert dirt track racer, he never had similar success on asphalt tracks. His best NASCAR finish came at Albany-Saratoga Speedway, in 1971, where he managed to finish third. Meanwhile, his first last-place finish came at the 1963 Pickens 200. In 1978, McDuffie won the pole position for the Delaware 500. In the 1988 Daytona 500 qualifying race, McDuffie received second- and third-degree burns in an accident after he raced without fireproof gloves because they were stolen before the race.

One day before his fatal accident at Watkins Glen International Speedway, McDuffie won a celebrity race in Owego, New York, at the Shangri-La Speedway, not far from Watkins Glen.[1][2]

McDuffie is still the record holder for the most starts in NASCAR's top touring series without recording a win. His 653 starts rank him 21st in all-time starts (as of September 2014). McDuffie held the series record for the most last-place finishes with 32 until Joe Nemechek surpassed him in 2014.[3]

Death[edit]

McDuffie was involved in an accident on the fifth lap of the 1991 Budweiser at The Glen race at Watkins Glen International. On the straight between the esses and the loop-chute, at 170 mph, McDuffie collided with Jimmy Means after suffering a mechanical failure. McDuffie's left front wheel spindle broke off of the car, causing him to lose brakes and hit Means in the right front. This left him no way of stopping the car or steering it, and to further complicate matters, there was no gravel trap in the corner that McDuffie was headed toward. As a result, McDuffie skidded across the grass and hit the outside retaining wall and tire barrier with such force that the car shot into the air, rotated, and then came to rest upside-down. Means also crashed into the same corner but was able to slow his vehicle down before the impact; his car went under McDuffie's as it was in mid-air. Means, a fellow independent racer, suffered only minor cuts and bruises in the accident, and got out of his car to check on McDuffie. After peering into McDuffie's car, he began frantically signaling for assistance, and a host of medical personnel and track workers rushed to the scene. The race was delayed for two hours as McDuffie was removed from his car and his Pontiac was removed from the infield. Also, the wall that McDuffie and Means struck had to be repaired. As the cars got back on the track and cruised under yellow flag conditions, the media attention turned to Chip Williams, NASCAR's PR director, who disclosed that McDuffie had lost his life in the accident. He had died instantly from head and brain injuries. The direct cause of death was a basilar skull fracture caused by rapid head movement to the right. The 52-year-old was survived by wife Ima Jean, son, Jeff (who himself drove in five Winston Cup events), and daughter, Linda. Williams, in the live interview where McDuffie's death was confirmed, erroneously reported that McDuffie was 53; he would not have been 53 until December 5 of that year.

McDuffie's death led to changes at Watkins Glen and also influenced motorsport safety changes that would come to full fruition at the end of the decade. Six weeks earlier, Camel GT prototype driver Tommy Kendall had a hard crash in the same section during the Camel Continental VIII, when a wheel failed on his Pratt & Miller Intrepid RM-1-Chevrolet prototype, sliding into the barrier, breaking both legs and sidelining him for the rest of the 1991 season, including the Winston Cup race, where he was set to substitute for Kyle Petty, injured at Talladega in May (Kendall had substituted for Petty at Sears Point earlier in the year). The track was then given a bus stop chicane placed slightly before the entrance of turn five, the section of track in question, and a gravel trap (since paved over), for the 1992 season.

Also, at the time, basilar skull fractures were the subject of developing research by Jim Downing and Bob Hubbard into a head and neck restraint for motorsport. Downing, a champion sports car racer, and his brother-in-law Hubbard, were in the process of developing the HANS device, which had just begun production. McDuffie's death was among the catalysts that led to increased funding by the automakers to continue research into basilar skull fractures as part of motorsport safety improvements, as adoption by sports car drivers of HANS had increased. By the end of the decade, following two CART fatalities in one season and three NASCAR fatalities in a span of five months, and then the start of the next decade with two more fatalities (including that of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.), and research into the head and neck restraints that had quickly been adopted, most motorsport sanctioning bodies mandated head and neck restraints worldwide.

McDuffie's widow, Ima Jean, unsuccessfully sued Watkins Glen for $4.25 million, claiming the barrier McDuffie hit was unsafe. The judge in that case ruled that McDuffie was familiar enough with the track to be aware of the dangers and that mechanical failure caused the accident.[4] The cause of the mechanical failure was never explained as NASCAR did a very brief investigation and the wheel that broke off disappeared before it could be returned to the McDuffie family.

Motorsports career results[edit]

NASCAR[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

Grand National Series[edit]

Winston Cup Series[edit]

Daytona 500[edit]
Year Team Manufacturer Start Finish
1969 McDuffie Racing Buick 36 39
1970 DNQ
1971 Mercury DNQ
1972 Chevrolet 19 24
1973 22 26
1974 30 28
1975 14 33
1976 41 7
1977 24 13
1978 22 30
1979 Oldsmobile 29 25
1980 Buick DNQ
Gray Racing Buick 25 27
1981 McDuffie Racing Pontiac 41 24
1982 33 13
1983 37 29
1984 DNQ
1985 Chevrolet DNQ
1986 Pontiac DNQ
1987 Winkle Motorsports 38 25
1988 McDuffie Racing DNQ
1989 29 24
1990 DNQ
1991 DNQ

Busch Series[edit]

ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series[edit]

(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nascardriveroftheday.com/2010/01/jd-mcduffie.html JD McDuffie Bio
  2. ^ ESPN coverage of the 1991 Budweiser at the Glen
  3. ^ LASTCAR: CUP: Most Last-Place Finishes. Retrieved April 6, 2014.
  4. ^ SPORTS PEOPLE: AUTO RACING; Track Found Not Liable - New York Times
  5. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1963 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  6. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1966 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  7. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1967 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  8. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1968 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  9. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1969 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  10. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1970 NASCAR Grand National Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  11. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1971 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 28, 2015. 
  12. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1972 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  13. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1973 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  14. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1974 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  15. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1975 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  16. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1976 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  17. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1977 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  18. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1978 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  19. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1979 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  20. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1980 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  21. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1981 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  22. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1982 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  23. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1983 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  24. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1984 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  25. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1985 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  26. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1986 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  27. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1987 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  28. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1988 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  29. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  30. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1990 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  31. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1991 NASCAR Winston Cup Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  32. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1982 NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  33. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1983 NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  34. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1984 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  35. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1986 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  36. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1988 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  37. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1989 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  38. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1990 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 
  39. ^ "J.D. McDuffie – 1991 ARCA Permatex SuperCar Series Results". Racing-Reference. Retrieved January 29, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Grant Adcox
NASCAR Winston Cup Series fatal accidents
1991
Succeeded by
Neil Bonnett