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Thursday, July 2, 2015

J.D. McDuffie #70 Son's Auto Supply/Classic Trophies/Rumple Pontiac

    J.D. McDuffie never won a Cup event, but he was a staple in the NASCAR garage~ Considered a "blue collared" racer, that fans could relate to~  His career, spanning 653 races in 28 seasons, resulted in 0 wins, 106 top 10's, and 1 pole (1978 Delaware 500)~ J.D. was tragically killed in the 1991 running of the Budweiser at The Glen, in Watkins Glen New York~ He held the record for last place finishes with 32, until 2014, with his first coming in the 1963 Pickens 200  @ Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina, during the first lap~

   Bad luck seemed to always follow McDuffie~ Before the 1988 Daytona 500 qualifying race,  a fan stole his fireproof gloves~ As a result, J.D. received second and third degree burns in an accident, when he chose to race without them~  But the worst of his luck would come in the 1991 Bud at the Glen~ On the way to the race track, his car hauler had brake failure~

    J.D. put a pop-rivet in the brake line, and arrived safely at the track on August 8th, 1991~ He managed to make the field, which to him, was already a victory.. considering he had failed to qualify for 10 races that season already~

                                                                RIP J.D. McDuffie~
J.D. McDuffie #70 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog tribute Watkins Glen 1991 die

    On the night of August 10th, J.D. competed in and won a "celebrity" race @ Shangri-La Speedway in nearby Owego, New York~ The race involved J.D. and the crew members for Dale Earnhardt~ A crew member for McDuffie, Marty Burke recalls "It was a lot of fun for J.D. He was given a car and there was no question he was the class of the field~ He pulled out into the lead and tried to keep the rest of the field close so they could put on a good show for the fans~ He knew that he was the class of the field, he was more happy for us than he was for himself.”~

    On the morning of August 11th 1991, J.D. and crew celebrated during breakfast, Burke recalls “Sunday morning we all went to breakfast and J.D. bought with the money he got night before~ When J.D. was with me, Mike Demers or Gerry Glenn, we took care of all the expenses. . .J.D. grabbed the breakfast check and said, ‘Winners Buy’ and that really stuck in my mind all these years~ As humble as J.D. was (and he truly was a humble man) that morning he was beaming with pride, not because he won the race, but because he wanted to buy us breakfast~”

    Marty Burke has continued to carry on the legacy of J.D. McDuffie~ In 1991, he licensed the likeness of J.D.’s #70 - complete with Burke’s Classic Trophies logos - to die cast manufacturer Racing Champions, arranging it so the profits would go toward helping J.D.’s widow Jean raise their grandson~

                           J.D. McDuffie #70 Son's Auto Supply/Classic Trophies/Rumple Pontiac~

J.D. McDuffie #70 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog die Rumple Classic Trophies Son's Watkins Glen
                                                          Click picks to enlarge~
J.D. McDuffie #70 Racing Champions 1/64 NASCAR diecast blog die Rumple Classic Trophies Son's Watkins Glen

    Racing Champions did a perfect job on this car~ I haven't seen a version of J.D.'s car that had any defects at all, really~ All the paint is smooth, smear free~ It's nice to have a die-cast of this car, to remember the legacy of a good, hard working, regular guy~ And I would also like to thank Marty Burke for making it possible~ As a kid, I always pulled for J.D. whenever I'd see him~ He was just a down to earth, hard working guy~ He may not have had the funds to run up front, but he enjoyed every minute of racing and being at the race track tinkering on his car~

    Racing has lost guys like that over the years.. and that's sad~ I guess what I miss most about NASCAR is the little guys~ I got to watch the end of an era, and I'll always remember the drivers that helped make NASCAR what it is today, I only wish NASCAR would remember them too~

     On the fifth lap of the Bud at the Glen, something broke on J.D.'s car, leaving him without brakes and a missing tire~ His car slammed into the #52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac, driven by Jimmy Means, and both cars went off the track~ Means was able to slow his car down, but McDuffie, with no brakes, slammed into a guardrail upside down, and landed atop of the Means car~ Jimmie got out and rushed over to assist, but quickly turned away and signaled frantically for paramedics~

    As the paramedics arrived, it was obvious that J.D. had been killed instantly, due to massive head injuries~ The race was red flagged for almost 2 hours to repair the guardrail and remove J.D.'s car~ The car was lifted to a flatbed, and covered with a tarp~

    That was the last time we'd ever see J.D.'s #70 on the track~ Ernie Irvan went on to win the race, and dedicated it to McDuffie, saying " After all I’ve been through, this is a great victory, but winning is tempered by J.D.’s death. I dedicate this victory to him~ Every time we went through the turn where he crashed, I thought about him. I’ve known what it is like to struggle in this sport without a sponsor just like he did, and I’ll always remember him"~

After his death, the fifth turn was modified to make it safer~ His wife, Ima Jean unsuccessfully sued Watkins Glen for $4.25 million, claiming the barrier McDuffie hit was unsafe~ The judge ruled that J.D. was familiar enough with the track to be aware of the dangers and that mechanical failure caused the accident~Below are a few videos on McDuffie~

                                          J.D. McDuffie Profile from 1985 Daytona 500~

                                                              1988 Twin 125 fiery crash~

                                                             125 Crash interview~

                                           1988 Pepsi 400 spin~ (J.D. driving a Marcis car)~

                                                        1991 Bud at the Glen (fatal)~

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