Remembering Some of the Major NASCAR Personalities Who Passed Away in 2020

Published 12/28/2020, 12:47 PM EST
AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 10: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, lead the field to turn one after taking the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


For obvious reason, nobody can live forever, unless they discover the secret to immortality. Needless to say, 2020 has been a tough year for the world, with millions of fatalities from the COVID-19 virus. However, there have been other fatalities that stemmed from other causes, which were either from natural causes or accidents. Even NASCAR has faced a few fatalities during the 2020 season.

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Back in late July, DGM Racing spotter Brad Campbell suffered from an accident and died at the age of 34. Apparently, he sustained severe damage to both legs, including many breaks, a fractured rib, and multiple bruises and scrapes. Sadly, Campbell succumbed to his injuries.

Meanwhile, Claude Queen, Larry Rathgeb, and Johnny Ray passed away from natural causes. In late January, John Andretti lost his battle to colon cancer at the age of 56. Another person to succumb to illness is Doug Taylor who was 72 at the time of his passing.

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Many more NASCAR personnel passed away this year

Back in April, Flossie Johnson the ‘First Lady of NASCAR’ passed away at the age of 90. Johnson was a well-loved figure in the NASCAR community, so her passing came as a shock to many. Later in the same month, Louisiana stock car driver Freddy Fryar died at the age of 86.

Another tragic loss for the sport came in the form of 101-year old pioneer, Vicki Wood. She was dubbed “the fastest woman in racing” and “the fastest woman on the sand”, and earned those monikers. Wood was a pioneer because she was one of the first female NASCAR drivers.

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Avondale, Arizona, USA; NASCAR drivers Denny Hamlin (11), Joey Logano (22) and Kyle Busch (18) battle for the lead during the NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It is also worth mentioning that Beard Motorsports mourned the loss of tire technician Steve Wheeler. Additionally, Maurice Petty is another big name who passed away this year in late July. If Richard Petty was known as ‘The King’, Maurice Petty‘s moniker was ‘The Chief’.

Other high-profile names include JJ Damato, Vice President of Marketing Services at Joe Gibbs Racing. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic also claimed the life of 59-year old Jim Pace. Apparently, Pace was a former Rolex 24 at Daytona and Twelve Hours of Sebring winner. Finally, William ‘Rowdy’ Harrell and his newly-wed wife were killed in a road accident.

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Obviously, NASCAR will honor all their memories and mourn their losses. However, the show must go on, but the sport has definitely paid tribute to the dearly departed.

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Dhruv George

11413 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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