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Reds Kagle
Richard "Reds" Henry Kagle
Born: April 20, 1932     Died: August 29, 2011 (Age 79)
Home: Lanham, Maryland

 

Reds Kagle is a former NASCAR driver from Greenbelt, MD. He competed in twenty-five Nascar Grand National Series events in his career, racing part-time between 1954 to 1961. Despite not racing enough to place well in points, Kagle did manage to earn nine top-tens in his career. His best finish was a pair of 5ths in 1958. He also raced well in the Nascar Convertible Division.

Reds was one of only two 5-time track champions of the famed Old Dominion Speedway 3/8 mile oval. He had hundreds of wins up and down the East Coast during his career. His first Nascar race in the Grand National Division was in 1954, competing in just one event that year. Sixty-four entries started that event and Kagle came home 17th driving a Studebaker, earning $175.00. His career continued part-time in Nascar until 1961 when he competed in 3 events. His Grand National career totals included 25 starts, 3 top 5's, and 9 top 10's. 1958 was hisbest season as a driver, finishing in the top 5 twice and scoring 7 top 10's in 14 events. He was one of the best on short tracks, battling legends like Roy Hendrick, Jack Bland and Bobby Ballentine on his was to several wins and track championships throughout his storied career.

A much loved and respected racer in the Mid-Atlantic region, Reds did it all. He was an outstanding driver, carowner, mentor and crew chief. He owned the famous #8 modifieds that Johnny Roberts drove to many feature wins in 1964 and 1965.Bobby Allison asked Reds to mentor Davey Allison at the beginning of Davey's career. Reds was also a crew chief for Clifford Allison. In addition, he founded Monster Racing at Dover.

Mr. Kagel suffered a stroke in the early morning of August 15th, 2011 and remained in critical condition until his passing two weeks later on August 29, 2011 at age 79 with his loving wife Diane by his side.


Reds Kagle Accomplishments

  • Lanham, MD Westport S Champ 1955
  • Beltsville LMS Champ 1971, '72, '73, '75
  • Old Dominion LMS Champ 1972, '73, ''74, '75

NASCAR Statistics Below

THE ACCIDENT...

Kagle is best known for a horrific accident he had at the 1961 World 600  that cost him his left leg when a guardrail impaled his racecar. After blowing a tire on lap 220, his 1961 #2 Ford tore up about 50 feet of guardrail. Somehow the guardrail ultimately went right through the car, through the engine compartment, the firewall and exited through the door jam, cutting Kagle’s left leg almost completely off.

 

 

The Wreck...

 

 

The Charlotte News noted that two of Kagle’s children, ages 5 and 4, were scooping up rocks with plastic spoons in the infield when the accident occurred and were not told about it for several hours. Kagle’s wife was also at the track and went to the hospital with her husband, whose leg couldn’t be saved and was amputated above the knee. The race was under caution for 25 laps because of Kagle’s accident, but it continued after the guard rail was hurriedly repaired. It was noted that the guardrail was supposedly and perhaps hastily installed backwards, allowing the rail to split at it's joint.

The accident did not make him leave racing permanently. Driving with an artificial left leg, he won several championships at a lower-level track in Maryland.

“It could have been a lot worse, though,” Kagle told a reporter in 1973 of the accident in the 1961 Charlotte race. “I could have lost the leg I pump the gas pedal with.”

 

Book Review - 7/22/2010

A Close Call in NASCAR - by Evan McCausland

Close, it seems, only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and NASCAR. Reds Kagle's wreck at the 1961 World 600 -- featured in Ben White's new book, NASCAR Then & Now -- could have been worse (and was certainly painful), but it was undoubtedly too close for comfort.

Kagle was piloting his #2 1961 Ford around the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the 1961 World 600 race. After completing nearly 220 laps, Kagle's car rose to the top of the banked oval, and slammed into the guardrail at full speed.

Twenty feet of steel girder punctured the Ford's front fascia, ultimately traveling through the engine compartment, firewall, and exiting through the driver's doorjamb. Sadly, the accident cost Kagle his left leg, but had the beam punctured at a slightly different angle, the accident could have become a tragic fatality.

The World 600 would be Kagle's last race until 1977, when he competed in two different NASCAR Late Model Sportsman (now known as the Nationwide Series) events. The second, held at Beltsville Speedway in Maryland, would ultimately net him his first career win.

If you dig seeing how NASCAR transformed from a grassroots dirt track series into a sponsored multimedia circus, White's book is a good place to start. Look for it on shelves at a bookstore near you.

Photos courtesy of Motorbooks Publishing

 


April 20, 1932 - August 29, 2011

Obituary for Mr. Richard "Reds" Henry Kagle

On Monday, August 29, 2011 of Lanham, MD passed away with his loving wife Diane by his side. Devoted father to Anita Segale, Barbara (John) Dodd, Richard Kagle, Jr., Kenny (Dawn) Kagle and devoted stepfather to Mark (Mindy) Potter, Lisa (Matt) Meadows, Richard Potter, Krystal (Billy) Axline, Jason (Amanda) Axline; grandfather of 19 grandchildren; 9 great grandchildren, and his little companion PEANUT. A viewing will be held at GASCH’S FUNERAL HOME, P.A., 4739 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville, MD on Monday, September 5, 2011 from 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 pm and Tuesday, September 6 from 10 to 12 noon with the service to begin at noon. Interment Fort Lincoln Cemetery, Brentwood, MD.

From book: The Crew Chief's Son: A Trackside Memoir of Early NASCAR

 By Michael L. Clements



 Reds Kagel Grand National Racing Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn RAF Miles
1954 22 1 of 37 0 0 0 0 220 0 175 86   17.0 1 220.0
1956 24 2 of 56 0 0 0 0 202 0 60 191 23.0 19.0 1 84.6
1957 25 1 of 53 0 0 0 0 23 0 25 172 14.0 32.0 0 11.5
1958 26 14 of 51 0 2 7 0 1642 0 1,750   17.5 18.6 6 896.1
1959 27 4 of 44 0 1 1 0 627 0 525 91 15.3 16.2 1 340.0
1961 29 3 of 52 0 0 1 0 720 0 1,495 54 19.0 21.0 1 963.0
6 years 25 0 3 9 0 3434 0 4,030   17.8 19.0 10 2515.2
 

Reds Kagel Convertible Racing Statistics
Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn RAF Miles
1959 27 1 of 15 0 0 1 0 231 0 150 71 3.0 8.0 1 76.9
1 year 1 0 0 1 0 231 0 150   3.0 8.0 1 76.9

 




 

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