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Beadle's Blue Max Funny Car Crashes During Lakeland Run
Bill Taylor picks up fiberglass from the Blue Max crash.

Raymond Beadle's 1977 version of his famed Blue Max AA funny car is said to be faster and more powerful than its predecessor. But Beadle's crew retained the 1976 car as a backup. It's time to pull out the spare car. Beadle one of the nation's best known funny car drivers, was at the wheel of his new Blue Max yesterday at Lakeland International Raceway when the $35,000 car flipped end-over-end twice and rolled on its side three other times before coming to a rest in a rain-soaked field.

Beadle, who was involved in a one-on-one duel with 'TV' Tommy Ivo in a feature race in the International Hot Rod Association's National title series at Lakeland, was taken to St. Joseph's East where he declined treatment. "He was discharged without really being seen," said a hospital spokesman. "He told us he felt all right." The Texas-born Beadle had just crossed the finish line at a speed of 230 mph. He had the victory in what was supposed to be the first of three duels. According to Ivo, Beadle's chute failed to open. "He was still going fast at the split," said Ivo, who said he had cut his speed down to "50 or 60" mph as he watched Beadle cross the finish line. "Then it looked like he (Beadle) veered to miss the (track) divider. "The car flipped pretty bad. I set off the (protective) fire bottles to get out the escape hatch (of my car) and get to him first. One thing that worked good is the field was soft from the rain."

Raymond Beadle
Raymond Beadle

Ivo's car is equipped with two safety chutes, while Beadle has one. The car landed upside down in the field well out of the view of the spectators who gathered for LIR's first race of the 1977 season. Beadle, who makes his home in Dallas, had said his new car is capable of 240 mph with an elapsed time over the quarter-mile at :05.90. The soft-spoken Beadle, appearing in only the third points race of the 1977 Winston national titles series, is one of the nation's most durable drivers. He was booked in 80 match races last year, 84 in 1974 and 85 in 1973. His 1977 entry has been fitted with a new body and paint design. The light-weight fiberglass body remains a replica of a Ford Mustang II, while the engine features an aluminum block with replaceable cylinder sleeves. It burns potent nitro methane fuel, which is run in amounts as high as 98 percent.

The mammoth 17- by 34-inch tires on Beadle's car left the ground twice during the spectacular crash. "It shook him up," said Bill Taylor, one of the track owners. "Most people didn't see it since it happened after he'd already crossed the finish line." For Beadle and the Blue Max' owner, Harry Schmidt, yesterday's race will be their only Mid-South appearance this year. Beadle, whose fee is said to be $2,500 a day, will remember his first and only Lakeland stop. Taylor said Beadle's speed eclipsed the track record, as did his :06.40 elapsed time. Yesterday's rain finally hit with 26 cars still in the running for national points. The drivers were forced to split the points and prize money since the race can not be made up. The two days of racing attracted 3,400 fans.


The preceding article is Copyright The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN.  
Thanks to David Rubenstein for supplying this article.


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