NASCAR Community Unites To Grieve As Richard Petty’s Long-Term Ally Takes His Final Drive to Heaven

Published 11/02/2023, 1:21 AM EDT

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“NASCAR is more than a race every week. It caters to the fan. It’s a show. It’s motorsports entertainment. It’s always been that way”, believed someone who spent more than 3 decades engineering and guiding some of the most successful drivers in motorsport history. Undeniably, each race is the fruit of the collective efforts of as many as 100 people who are responsible for various tasks, starting from running tests to executing simulations. But what happens when the sport loses one of its greatest race car engineers of all time?

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Indeed, gloom and regret follow. Tex Powell, Richard Petty’s friend and a co-worker in the 1970s, passed away after a short battle with lung cancer. According to sources, the 85-year-old passed away peacefully at his home in New London, NC, on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.

Tex Powell, Richard Petty’s friend and the 1982 Camaro builder, takes his final drive to heaven

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Tex Powell passed away after living a legendary life. He was born on November 3, 1938, in Houston, TX to William Lane Powell and Pauline Allen Powell. He worked with some of the big names in motorsport history. His name is associated with the cars of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Powell worked with Richard Petty in the 1970s before he brought the competition to the vast hordes of Porsches and Ferraris in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was then that the Tex Powell had a pair of Chevrolet Camaro numbered 80 and 81 with Stratagraph, Inc.

Tex Powell’s Chevrolet Camaro No. 81 creation was run by Billy Hagan from 1982 to 1984. The car won the inaugural GP Miami IMSA GTO Grand Prix in February of 1983, as well as the GTO Class (6th overall) at the Daytona 24 Hours in February 1984, driven by Billy Hagan and Terry Labonte. Tex Powell will always be remembered by the community for his exceptional creation in the history of NASCAR. Nascarman took it to X (formerly Twitter) to pay tribute to the NASCAR legend.

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Car builders and engineers will always hold a special place in the sport. But the times when Tex Powell was building didn’t have so many people back in the garage. Adding his views to the same, Tex Powell’s former team owner, Richard Petty, as reported by The Charlotte Observer, said, “We had 8–10 people working for us who did everything. They painted the car. They changed gears. They built gears. Then they went to the race track and pitted the car. There wasn’t an engineer for this or an engineer for that.”

However, the biggest contribution was that of the engineer in the garage. And for Petty, it was his friend. However, Tex Powell had showered Petty multiple times in his stories with all the praise. The greatest race car builder once said, “We maybe built one or two cars each year. Your accountability was a much bigger percentage of our success. It made it so much more rewarding when you won. Of course, much of that was related to Richard’s driving ability.” 

Tex Powell formed his designing, manufacturing, and assembling company, Tex Racing Enterprises in 1978 which he later sold in 2000. He kept working for the cars and was driven by speed and motorsports. He was also quoted in Don Miller’s book, Millers’ Time Lifetime of Speed: “I’ve said for a long time that the three most important tools in racing are a hammer, a screwdriver, and flat black paint. What’s the most universal tool? The Hammer.”

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Powell built the Camaro that Terry Labonte drove to win the GTO class in the 1984 Rolex 24. Besides that, he was also AJ Foyt’s crew chief in the 80s and 90s. Alas, Petty’s friend is no more. And the entire NASCAR community grieved his death.

The NASCAR community joined in praying for Tex Powell’s soul

The 1982 Camaro still comes with a variety of interesting documents, including a February 1982 letter of acceptance to Le Mans from the Automobile Club de L’Ouest. There is also a congratulatory letter from Peter Schutz for the American team’s participation on the continent. And holds a transcript of the letter from Tex Powell regarding the creation of the car. Moments after the bitter news, veteran racer Bobby Labonte sent out his prayers for the legend. He said, “Rip Tex Powell. You will be missed🙏🏻”

A fan typed, “So sorry to hear this. I’m thinking of Tex’s family, friends, and everyone he touched in the racing community.”

Another wrote, “Rest in peace, Tex. Prayers for his family and friends.” There were plenty of tweets from all over the world, sending their final respects to the departed soul. One of Powell’s apprentices behind the garage tweeted,

“Privileged beyond measure to have worked with some of the smartest men on the planet. This guy is easily near the top of that list. Always provided a common-sense answer, regardless of how dumb my question may have been. Will truly miss Tex Powell and his wealth of knowledge.”

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Someone wrote, “So sorry to hear that.  Was lucky to have gotten to work with Tex and Mike in the past.”

“Great transmission   Tex built the best,” said another.

Another fan concurred saying, “No doubt! Thanks, Tex”

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Indeed, it was a dark day for NASCAR, especially for those who’ve worked closely with the great car builder, Tex Powell. Let’s bow down to the veteran and pray that he gets the fruits of his numerous contributions to the sport in the afterlife. EssentiallySports sends its deepest prayers to his friends, family, and fans.

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Written by:

Soumyadeep Saha

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