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Section of The Glen should be named for McDuffie

By admin | August 10, 2008

By Richard Allen


J.D. McDuffie stood for everything a NASCAR racer is, or was, supposed to stand for. He worked hard, he never gave up and he struggled against the odds. These characteristics are exemplified by the fact that he still holds the record for the most starts, 653, by a Sprint Cup Series driver without a win.

Unfortunately, McDuffie lost his life at Watkins Glen International in 1991.

Entering what was then Turn 5 on the road course as it was set up back then, McDuffie’s car went out of control across a grassy section and slammed into a guard rail and tire barrier. Shortly afterwards, McDuffie was pronounced dead.

Since that time, track officials added a chicane at the end of what is often referred to as the back stretch to slow the speed of the cars before they enter the right hand turn that had previously been called Turn 5.

This chicane is called by several names including the “Bus Stop” and the “Inner Loop”.

On European tracks it is somewhat common for sections of race tracks to be named after drivers or other people who played significant roles in the history of racing. This is one case in which it would be a good idea to bring that custom to American road racing.

Instead of “Bus Stop” or “Inner Loop”, why not rename that section of the track the “J.D. McDuffie Chicane”.

I know this is probably not going to happen particularly because McDuffie’s widow, Ima Jean, sued the speedway for $4.25 million after her husband’s death. That case was eventually thrown out of court because the judge said McDuffie was aware of the risks involved before he started the race.

It may be time to allow any remaining hard feelings to pass and honor a man who stood for the best in NASCAR and who ultimately gave his life for the sport he loved.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

3 Responses to “Section of The Glen should be named for McDuffie”

  1. Jason Says:
    August 11th, 2008 at 9:15 am


    I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who had McDuffie on the brain yesterday. I doubt the track would ever name anything for him because of the lawsuit you suggested, but it is a novel idea. I have seen the crash on youtube a few times, and it’s just another one of those “quick stops” that seems to hurt drivers the most.

  2. joe Says:
    August 11th, 2008 at 11:05 am

    yes i was thinking of jd everytime they go to glenn. i knew jd when he raced at rockingham nc at old dirt track and at sanford nc dirt track and fevy nc dirt track was one hell of a driver it was such a loss he didnt get a top ride, saw jd and john sears put on good races there also sam ard and george fox in country hams cars good old days of racing back then sure miss old racing wasnt just money back then jimmy

  3. Lance Says:
    August 11th, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    i understand the sentiment of what rich would like to do, but it’s hard for me to grasp that because of it’s more like honoring his death more so than honoring his independent spirit and drive as a racer. many fans, young and old, today probably haven’t even heard of j.d. mcduffie. true, there are portions of racetracks in europe that were renamed because of their fallen champions not because they died there but because they were champions. the only fallen driver, that i know of f1 champion racer jimmy clark, who was killed in hockenheim, germany. there is memorial set aside near where he lost his life in a grand prix practice but that section of the track is no longer in competition as nature has claimed it again.

    like earnhardt’s death at daytona….(earnhardt’s curve?)
    fireball roberts fatal injuries at charlotte….(fireball’s straightaway?)
    davey allison’s helicopter crash at talladega….(davey allison’s garage?)

    though memorials/renames at a racetrack will educate some, but what about all the others that have passed away at watkins glen like francois cevert and helmuth konigg? should they too like many others be acknowledged in the areas in which they were killed?

    i feel blessed and fortunated to have seen j.d. race in the past and i understood what it meant to be an “independent”…the TRUE underdogs of the sport. but if you feel like i feel, anyone who drives that #70 car is in j.d.’s ride.