Dirt Racing Legend Bob McCreadie Dies Aged 73

Bob McCreadie, a legendary driver in dirt racing, passed away in Watertown, New York, at the age of 73. 

Throughout his career in the touring Super Dirtcar Series and at weekly events, he earned the nickname “the master of going faster” and won more than 500 races. 

(Another of McCreadie’s nicknames, “Barefoot Bob,” has caused some consternation among his admirers. Some say it’s because of his hardscrabble rural New York upbringing.)

At speedways and fairs all across the East Coast, McCreadie raced dirt-modified stock cars at speeds of 150 mph on short, tight-cornered circuits. More than 2,500 people usually attend dirt racing events, and although it’s not as popular or profitable as the NASCAR circuit, it’s still a great source of entertainment and small-town pride.

His racing career began in 1971, but he didn’t win his first race until 1974. In 1994, he had his greatest year, with 47 victories out of 93 races.

Because of his background as a mechanic, McCreadie developed an almost Zen-like relationship with his vehicles. To somewhat reduce his speed in corners, he hooked an engine spark plug to a dashboard toggle switch he installed during the 1994 season. During his peak performance, he garnered race rewards ranging from $300,000 to $400,000. But there was a cost to his aggressive racing style: dozens, if not hundreds, of wrecks.

McCreadie had repeated back injuries, the most recent of which occurred in a dramatic accident in 1988 in New York when his vehicle overturned and came to rest on its top.

He is survived by his wife. In 1974, McCreadie tied the knot with Sandra Ritton in Bronxville, NY. They had three children and a great-grandson.

On paved highways, McCreadie was never a friend or family member’s safest bet behind the wheel. They were afraid to drive with him.