3-time NHRA champ, NASCAR team owner Raymond Beadle dead at 70

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Raymond Beadle, who won three consecutive NHRA Funny Car class championships from 1979 to 1981 and guided NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace to the 1989 Winston (now Sprint) Cup championship as a team owner, has passed away at the age of 70 in Dallas.

In addition to those accomplishments, Beadle won three IHRA championships and also owned a World of Outlaws team that featured Sammy Swindell as its driver.

He was also voted No. 20 on the NHRA’s 2001 list of its Top 50 racers of all time. More recently, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America this year.

Beadle also possessed a keen business acumen, helping his team’s Blue Max brand gain visibility through the sales of myriad souvenirs and the acquiring of big sponsors.

Thanks to both that and his own prowess behind the wheel, the Blue Max car (pictured, above) went on to become one of the iconic NHRA machines ever; in the end, Beadle picked up 13 NHRA national event victories and made 28 final-round appearances as a driver.

In 1983, Beadle made inroads into NASCAR as a team owner. After three years of fielding entries for the late Tim Richmond, he acquired the services of Wallace following Richmond’s departure to Hendrick Motorsports.

Steadily, the team improved as Wallace scored finishes of sixth, fifth, and second in the 1986, 1987, and 1988 Cup standings respectively.

Then, in 1989, Beadle and Wallace broke through by winning the championship on the strength of the latter’s six victories, 13 Top-5s, and 20 Top-10s. All told, it was enough to defeat the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. by a slim margin of 12 points.

However, Beadle wound down his NASCAR operation at the end of the 1990 campaign after Wallace moved to Team Penske and took his major sponsorship from Miller Brewing Co. with him.

With that, Beadle stepped away from the sport to focus on other matters such as operating a cattle ranch and a horse farm in Texas. The NHRA reports that he had recently moved back to Dallas with his wife.

Upon learning of Beadle’s death, Wallace tweeted the following:

Our thoughts and prayers are with Beadle’s family and friends at this time.