J. D. McDuffie
John Delphus McDuffie..."JD" as everyone knew
him,was probably one of the
last of the "Good Ol Boys" of NASCAR.
JD spent most of his life in his small race car shop in Sanford NC. He
couldn't afford to pay team professionals to help, so he was helped by
Community Volunteers, and some guys who loved racing just as much, and
wanted to be a part of it. JD won many races on the dirt tracks of
North Carolina in the early 1960's, and he won the Championship at the old
Rockingham dirt track in 1962. Once moving to Winston Cup, the wins did
not come as easily. His best finish in the Winston Cup Series was third at
Malta Speedway in upstate New York in 1971. He finished 9th in the
points championship that year- his highest championship finish.
Always quick with a smile, puffin on his trade-mark cigars ~ he was just
as quick with a helping hand and his toolbox full of wrenches. His passion
for racing was only equalled to his love of a good cigar. You could always
tell the length of a race, by the number of cigars JD taped to his dash.
JD had a big heart and a steely determination that made him popular with
both drivers and crew members. He was never what one would categorize
today as a "front-runner", but he was from the Old School of Racing. JD
did things on his own, and didn't buy anything unless he had to have it.
If he had a part that could be repaired, unlike today's multi-million
dollar teams that discard them, he would repair it, and use it again. He
was also known for buying used parts from the larger racing teams, to
avoid the high cost of new parts. He continued to show up at the tracks
with his old pickup truck and his race car on a trailer. Other teams often
went out of their way to give him a hand. When it appeared that JD would
not be able to make a qualifying attempt in Daytona one February,
Earnhardt quietly took up a collection in the garage area to rent an
engine for him. Junior Johnson always said "Give him anything he
wants"....everybody helped him, and JD borrowed only when he had to, and
paid them back as soon as he could. Twenty years ago, his blue Ford crew
cab was state of the art, but not one to waste money, his one car open
hauler could be seen next to the ultra modern 18 wheel transporters of the
other teams at every race.
JD McDuffie had started 653 Winston Cup Races-
though never winning. JD did win a pole position at Dover in 1978, that
qualified him for the 1979 Busch Clash which he was very proud of.
Although JD had not finished in the top 10 since 1982...he continued to do
what he truly loved. And that was Racin! Yep, fixer up and go racin again!
On the Saturday evening before the Watkins Glen Race, McDuffie, the last
of the independents on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, had driven a stock
car into Victory Lane! A wonderful and uplifting experience for the cigar
smoking 52 year old driver. It was only a 10 mile match race for late
model stock cars at Shangri-La Speedway, a short track in Owego NY, the
cars were donated for the drivers to use. McDuffie was competing against
Earnhardt's "Flying Aces" crew, and he won by about 5 car lengths. They
never thought they would get him to stop grinning. That win would be his
On Sunday August 11, 1991, JD was killed instantly
when his Pontiac slid off course in turn 5 of the 2.428 mile road course
at about 170 mph; slamming into a tire barrier, and flipping upside down.
The wreck occurred on turn 5, one of the toughest corners at the end of
the long highspeed backstretch. At least 5
cars crashed in that same location during the weekend practice sessions.
JD never finished the Watkins Glen race - but the last race he competed in
and finished (the night before)....HE WON!
Winston Cup Starts: 653
Top 5: 12
Top 10: 94
Poles: Dover 1978
Hometown: Sanford NC
Family: Irma Jean (wife) Jeff and Linda
*1962 Dirt Track Champion
*1971 Finished 9th in Championship points