Dick Burdick, five-time Grand Champion of the Great Race, passed away Sunday in his hometown in Texas. He was 88. Burdick participated in every Great Race for the first 25 years, winning three times in a 1924 Bentley Speedster (1989, 1990 and 1992), once in a 1916 Hudson racer (2000) and once in a 1934 Ford Indy race car (2003). All five times his navigator was Wayne Bell.
“Think about this – it took Beth Gentry more than decade to win her first Great Race, and it took Howard Sharp more than two decades to win his first but Dick won five times in his first 20 years,” Great Race director Jeff Stumb said.
“After my first Great Race as a participant in 1994, when everyone was packing up to go home after more than two weeks on the road, Dick Burdick was out in the parking lot with a razor blade trimming rubber off his tires on his 1916 Hudson to be more competitive the following year. Then he drove the Hudson home from Pennsylvania. That’s how focused he was on the Great Race and winning it.”
In 2003, Burdick joined a group of fellow racers, including Jack Roush, Corky Coker, Gab Joiner, G.R. Pike, Curtis Graf and Dave Reeder, to buy the Great Race from founder Tom McRae. Rally Partners ran the event from 2003-2005.
Burdick was also the founder of Dick’s Classic Car Garage in Wimberley, Texas, a great museum of the cars he collected through the years. In 1954, he founded the heat-tracing company Thermon with $40 he borrowed and grew it into a $200 million dollar company.
Funeral arrangements are pending.