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Tue, 22 Dec 2015, 12:37 PM

Dave Beebe
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2015 Steve Reyes

The drag racing community is mourning yet another loss, the passing of Dave Beebe. In the hot bed of Southern California drag racing during the 1960s, Beebe was nicknamed "King" for a great reason; Dave and brother Tim were fixtures in the Southern California altered classes and then in top fuel and funny car. Beebe was one of those drivers who you loved to watch pilot a nitro burning race car down the 1320. He did it so naturally. I was just a kid living in the San Francisco Bay area when I first followed the exploits of the J&S Speed Shop Bantam altered and then the Beebe Brothers and Sixt top fuel car in the pages of Drag News and Drag Racing Magazine. It was in the summer of 1966 that I first got to photograph Dave at the wheel of the Beebe Brothers and Sixt AA/FD. It was one of those tire boiling, never lift Banzai runs that was sheer magic down the quarter-mile.

Being a hard core family man, Dave was a "homer" and preferred to race only in Southern California. His brother, Tim, wanted to tour their top fuel car in 1968. Therefore, Dave stepped aside for a young and upcoming driver named John Mulligan. Tim Beebe and John Mulligan formed the top fuel team of the Beebe and Mulligan Fighting Irish. While Dave stayed home at his real job and family, Tim and John barnstormed the USA with the Fighting Irish top fuel car. At Indy, in 1969, the partnership ended with a fiery crash and the passing of John Mulligan.

While Tim and Mulligan had been on tour, Dave had been driving locally based Bill Crossley's top fuel car in Southern California Top Fuel wars. Then in late 1968, Dave found himself at the wheel of Nelson Carter's Super Chief funny car. Carter was based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma which posed a problem for Dave when Carter decided to leave Los Angeles for home and also touring the entire country. Dave again decided to stay in Southern California and took a ride with the Ferguson and Hofheins Dodge Fever and then he did a short stint with Big John Mazmanian's candy 'Cuda.

The funny car bug then bit Tim who together with Dave took over the Dodge Fever funny car and raced in Southern California for the 1970 season. When the 1971 season came around, Tim was ready to tour again but of course Dave was not. Tim hired Dick Rosburg and the duo headed East with the Fighting Irish funny car. Dave wasn't out of a ride for long before he received a call from Fresno, California, based Ed Wills and took over as the driver of the Mr. Ed funny car. Late in 1971 and early 1972, Dave was offered the ride in Rich Guasco's Pure Hell funny car, pairing two ex-fuel altered racers in Guasco's funny car venture.

In 1973, Beebe won his only NHRA National event at Columbus, Ohio, while he was driving Guasco's car with Larry Huff's Soapy Sales body. Dave defeated a tire smoking Pat Foster in the final to claim his "Wally." When old friend, Ed Wills called in 1974, Dave again was at the helm of the Fresno, California, based Mr. Ed funny car. This was Dave's last venture driving funny cars because he retired after the 1974 season to spend time with his family and run his business. The sport of drag racing has lost a great racer and family man, RIP Dave.

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After their stint in the J&S Bantam altered, Dave and his brother Tim went top fuel
racing with long-time friend Lee Sixt. This put the fear of God in top fuel racers in California.

The Beebe Brothers and Sixt racked up wins at all the major race tracks in
Southern California throughout 1966 and 1967. They won the UDRA Nationals
at Lions as well as big events at Carlsbad, Sacramento, and Irwindale's Grand Prix.
At the 1966 NHRA World Finals at Tulsa, Oklahoma, Beebe was runner-up to Pete Robinson
and his SOHC Ford powered top fuel car. Then in 1967 they were runner-up to Mike Snively,
driving Roland Leong's Hawaiian at the Bakersfield March Meet.

Dave put one on Pete Robinson at Lions in 1967. Beebe was getting pay back for
the loss the team suffered at the 1966 NHRA World Finals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Dave was runner-up to Robinson for the top fuel NHRA World Championship.

When brother Tim went touring with John Mulligan in 1968, Dave drove for
long time top fuel owner Bill Crossley. Dave did not want to tour and the Crossley
ride was a good fit for Dave in 1968.

In 1969 funny cars started to rule the world of drag racing and there was Dave
in the seat of Nelson Carter's Super Chief Charger. Dave, of course, drove the
car at Southern California events but when Carter decided to head home to
Oklahoma and tour the East, Dave stepped out of the driver's seat.

The 1970 season teamed the brothers Beebe with Ferguson and Hofheins.
The Southern California based funny car raced on the West Coast only in 1970
and cranked out the first sub-7 second pass at 6.99. This is Dave in the winners circle
at Lions with daughter Kathy. To say Dave loved his family would be an understatement.

Next up for Dave Beebe was a Central California funny car ride from Ed Wills.
The Fresno, California, based boat racer called on Beebe to pilot his first outing
in the funny car class in 1971.

Dave Beebe looked right at home in Ed Wills' Mr. Ed AA/FC in 1971.

In 1971, brother Tim (left) went on tour with his Fighting Irish funny car with
Dick Rosburg (Right) filling in for his brother Dave. That is top fuel owner
Mike Kuhl (Engle T-shirt) in the middle of Tim and Dick.

Staying at home Dave and the Mr. Ed funny car battled some of the best
funny cars in California every weekend. Here Dave takes on friend/foe
Jim Dunn at Irwindale in 1971.

Early in 1972, Beebe switched rides and started driving Rich Guasco's Pure Hell
funny car. Guasco and Beebe were no strangers, they both came out of the
fuel altered class but on opposite sides.

In 1973, Dave Beebe won his only NHRA National event at Columbus, Ohio.
He drove the Guasco/Huff bodied AA/FC to victory over a tire-smoking Pat Foster
in the final. From left to right is Larry Huff, Rich Guasco, Dave Beebe, Race Queen
and Wally Parks are all smiles in the winners circle.

Dave returned to the driver's seat of the Art Whipple and Ed Wills funny car in 1974.
This would be Dave's last ride because he believed it took time away from his family
and business, so he retired in late 1974.

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