Born: November 7, 1930 Died: June 9, 2009
Home: Watertown, NY
Dick May of Concord, NC died peacefully with his daughter Joni by his side on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 following a long illness. Born in upstate New York, he began racing on dirt tracks while in the U.S. Army while stationed at Pine Camp (now Fort Drum) in the 1950's. He became Watertown Speedway Track Champion in 1962 and was inducted into the DIRT MOTORSPORTS Hall of Fame in 2007. In 1967, he moved to Charlotte and competed in 185 races in the NASCAR Grand National / Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series ) until his retirement in 1986. Mr. May is credited for the amazing feat of driving five different cars for five different owners during the 1975 Mason Dixon 500 at Dover Downs International Speedway, a NASCAR record which still stands. Mr. May was a fan of Notre Dame and Chicago Bears football. He was also an avid lover of animals, especially dogs and cats. Mr. May was preceded in death by his wife, Joyce May, daughter, Patricia May Schweitzer and parents, Frederick and Margaret May. Mr. May is survived by his daughter and her husband, Joni May and Rick Hubbard (Terrell, NC), son, Rex May (Clayton, NY), grandchildren, Rachel May ( Tampa, FL), Penny Jo Schweitzer and husband, Matt Price (Dexter, NY), Lindsay May Babcock (Ithaca, NY), Ivy Leigh Babcock (West Lafayette, IN.), Elizabeth "Charlie " May (Watertown, NY ), Gabriel May (Brownville, NY ), Wayne R. Schweitzer (Dexter, NY) son in law, grand daughter Christina M. Schweitzer (Dexter NY), 2nd LT US Army David Hubbard (Terrell, NC), great grandchildren, Chloe May, Tricia May Price and Dylan Price, sister, Ruth May (Ithaca, NY) and her children, Allison and Margie.
Family will receive friends from 2-4 PM and 6-8 PM on Monday, June 15, 2009 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home 494 E. Plaza Drive Mooresville, NC. Funeral Service with Military Honors will be held on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 1 PM at the funeral home chapel.
Following the services a gathering of Mr. May's family and friends will be held from 2 to 5 PM at Performance Instruction & Training (PIT), 156 Byers Creek Road, Mooresville, NC 28117 (704)799-3869. In lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. May's memory can be made to the Humane Society of Iredell County P.O. Box 1617 Statesville, NC 28687 www.iredellhumane.org .
(From Mike Perry) It was with extreme sadness that I received the following message from Dick's daughter Joni just moments ago. Dick May was the driver of the B29 at Watertown Speedway for many years and a former track champion there before campaigning on the NASCAR circuit from 1971 to 1985. I had the extreme honor of introducing Dick at his induction into the DIRT Hall of Fame two years ago at Weedsport. His life was completely dedicated to this sport and his ability as a driver for those who knew him or were fans of Dick can never be denied. But most of all we will miss his incredible sense of humor and generous nature to the sport and all those in it. He will be very much missed and my thoughts are with the entire May family.
Joni's note: 6/9/09
Dick May Celebration of Life
It is with extreme sadness I must report that my father, Dick May, passed away this afternoon at 3:50PM. As many of you know, he has been quite sick for the past year and his body was just worn out when pneumonia set in. In his own words, “He hit the wall for the final time”. His humor was intact and he was strong until the end. Thank you to all who have given me kind words and strength during this difficult time.
Dick May, a frequent relief driver, dies at 78Friday, Jun. 12, firstname.lastname@example.org-
Dick May, who began his career in the Northeast and drove nearly two decades in what is now the Sprint Cup Series, died Tuesday June 9th, 2009, near his home in Harrisburg, N.C., following a long illness. He was 78.
May moved to North Carolina in 1967 and competed in 185 Cup race from 1967 to 1985. May never won a race and was known primarily as a relief driver. In the 1975 Mason Dixon 500 at Dover, Del., May drove five different cars, but did not finish the race.
"He was quite the character," said veteran Cup crew chief Dale Inman, who worked with seven-time champion Richard Petty. "He was good man."
"I do remember we were at Pocono in 1978, Richard hit the wall in the Tunnel Turn. Dick drove down pit road after a couple laps under caution and stopped and told me (on the pit box) I had to go out there because they hadn't gotten (Petty) out."
Inman and a fan got into a passenger car and drove to the accident site just as Petty was being loaded into an ambulance after suffering a neck fracture.
May retired from racing in 1986, but kept working in the sport, as an inspector for NASCAR at times until 2003. A former track champion at Watertown (N.Y.) Speedway, May was inducted into the DIRT Motorsports Hall of Fame as a Pioneer Committee selection in 2007.
Dick May is a former NASCAR driver who competed in 185 races in the NASCAR Grand National/Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup Series) between 1967 and 1985. In the 1975 Mason Dixon 500 May drove five different cars, but did not finish the race.
May began his racing career at the Watertown Speedway, where he was 1962 Track Champion. May was inducted into the Dirt Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2007.
On June 9 2009, May died following a long illness.
Steve Waid: Dick May's passing marks the loss of a true NASCAR character
Former NASCAR Winston Cup driver Dick May never took himself, or his racing career, very seriously. It just wasn't in him. It seemed that whatever happened, well, it happened. He never appeared to fret about anything. In fact, he joked about everything, including racing. "I'm just along for the ride, and I'm enjoying every bit of it," he once said.
May passed away at age 78 on June 9. It's very likely few of today's NASCAR fans have any idea who he was, and thus his death received little notice.
Rusty Wallace #98 and Dick May #19 in 1981
May had a portly build, a nearly cherubic face and was always smiling. His ability to treat life with a positive outlook and to make others laugh made him one of NASCAR's most delightful characters. If he ever spoke a harsh, hateful word about something or someone, I never heard it, and I daresay no one else did either.
May's NASCAR career was decidedly unspectacular. He made just 185 starts over 16 seasons. He finished among the top 10 only eight times. His best season came in 1978, when he entered 28 races, finished among the top 10 twice and stood 15th in points.
However, his record is a bit deceiving. Many times - too many to count - he served as a substitute driver, sometimes at the last minute, and consequently was never listed as a race entrant. That didn't seem to bother him. "If I hang around long enough, I usually end up driving for someone else," he said years ago. "Doesn't bother me. It's the other guy's car and money, not mine."
May was a member of the fraternity of what was then known as "independent" competitors, those who received no factory backing and whose budget constraints were so severe they stood little chance of success. Where some of them took NASCAR to task for their financial inferiority - among them Raymond Williams and James Hylton - May didn't really seem to care.
But no one should consider May's second-class standing in NASCAR indicative of his ability. He could drive a race car. Before he came to NASCAR in 1970, May, who hailed from Watertown, N.Y., competed successfully at Watertown Speedway for years and became the track champion in 1962. He was respected and very popular. He was inducted into the DIRT Hall of Fame two years ago.
For years, May owned Trickee Trucking. Its headquarters was located adjacent to what is now Lowe's Motor Speedway. The unpretentious and obviously old building still stands. But in racing circles May was more recognized as an employee of STP, then the sponsor of powerful Petty Enterprises. May worked for STP even while he pursued his haphazard racing career. I'm not exactly sure what May did for STP except to say it was a bit of everything. He'd show up at races in his familiar blue van in which he usually hauled the company's products.
Very often one or both of his dogs - Wolfie and Charlotte - traveled with him. Wolfie, a beautiful, larger dog with white fur, was almost a constant companion. Just about everyone in the garage area knew Wolfie. "Go to the van and say hello to Wolfie," May would say. When they arrived Woflie's wagging tail would thump the front seat.
May was loyal to STP. He always wore a cap with the company logo even when he didn't have to. Often he'd comb the pits and garage area handing out STP logo decals. The media were a favorite target.
"Now, see this blue STP decal?" May once said to a handful of media members, many of whom targeted him when they wanted to write a humorous, light-hearted column. "They are just regular decals. "But the silver ones, they are special. They're like 200 mph duct tape. Nearly indestructible. When you board a plane, slap one of them just outside the door and it will hold up during the entire flight." Of course, practically any decal would. Still, some daring media guys thought it might be fun to see if the special STP model would live up to May's billing. So as each one of them boarded for a long trip, he slapped the STP decal on the outside of the plane, hoping to go unnoticed.
Dick May in Don Robertson Chevy #25 at Talladega in 1977 &
Johnny Rutherford Gillmore Chevy #51
Try that today and you'll be considered a terrorist suspect and likely arrested. When the plane took off it was adorned with at least two dozen silver STP decals. The flight attendants weren't fooled. They knew what had happened and who had done it. But they weren't angry. Quite the opposite. As one approached a media guy, he braced himself for a dressing-down. "Hey," said the flight attendant, "if you give me a few of those decals, your drinks are free for the entire flight." Astonished, the media guy readily agreed - as did several of his colleagues who had also been approached by flight attendants.
Perhaps May is the only person to be roundly toasted aboard a flight he never took. It's always sad when NASCAR loses a member of its past. But it's even sadder with Dick May because of who he was - which was far greater than anything he did on the track.
Dick May also worked as a Winston Cup Official. Here was his official's jacket.
Dick May Winston Cup DRIVER Statistics
Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn 1970 39 16 of 48 0 0 0 0 1028 0 5,195 44 23.6 23.1 1971 40 22 of 48 0 0 1 0 2527 0 9,225 32 27.0 24.6 1972 41 6 of 31 0 0 1 0 955 0 5,645 44 31.0 22.5 1973 42 4 of 28 0 0 0 0 337 0 3,605 71 30.5 26.2 1974 43 2 of 30 0 0 0 0 350 0 3,310 75 31.0 16.0 1975 44 9 of 30 0 0 1 0 1688 0 11,525 41 29.2 21.9 1976 45 18 of 30 0 0 0 0 4595 0 29,425 25 32.3 21.3 1977 46 13 of 30 0 0 0 0 3977 0 21,690 27 27.1 20.4 1978 47 28 of 30 0 0 2 0 7221 0 65,291 15 26.8 19.4 1979 48 19 of 31 0 0 0 0 3387 0 26,345 30 28.0 26.9 1980 49 21 of 31 0 0 2 0 5767 0 42,945 32 28.5 20.4 1981 50 9 of 31 0 0 1 0 1843 0 26,280 37 32.0 22.2 1982 51 8 of 30 0 0 0 0 1930 0 16,810 55 32.1 22.1 1983 52 5 of 30 0 0 0 0 1100 0 7,390 64 35.6 26.4 1984 53 3 of 30 0 0 0 0 1274 0 5,325 48 35.3 21.0 1985 54 2 of 28 0 0 0 0 665 0 2,825 34.0 23.5
16 years 185 0 0 8 0 38644 0 282,831 28.7 22.3
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