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Fri, 02 Mar 2018, 14:27 PM

Farewell Raymond Godman
By Steve Reyes
Photo copyright 2018 Steve Reyes

January first of 2018 saw the passing of eighty-nine-year-old Raymond Godman, top fuel and funny car owner from Memphis, Tennessee. Long time drag fans can remember when Godman's Tennessee Bo Weevil AA/FD terrorized the Southwest and Southeast top fuel racing. With his long-time friend Preston Davis, the duo became a much-feared team in nitro racing.

Proudly flying the stars and bars Confederate flag from its roll cage, the Bo Weevil became a fan favorite at AHRA, NHRA, and IHRA races in the late 1960s. Godman switched to funny cars in the early 1970s, racing a Cuda, Mustang, and Satellite bodied AA/FC's. What made Godman stand out from other racers who raced in those classes in that long-ago era? Raymond did his tuning and engine building from his wheelchair! In 1952, he had taken a sniper's bullet in the spine during the Korean conflict. Returning back to the United States, a young Godman decided never to let his misfortune control his life. His love of drag racing and his "I can do anything" attitude showed in his early Bo Weevil race cars.

Ten years after being wounded in the Korean conflict, Godman's Tennessee Bo Weevil A/MR won class at the US NHRA Nationals. He made the jump to top fuel with fellow Memphis Rodders Car Club member Preston Davis in the late 1960s. It seemed that Godman was always around drag racing and its national events. Even after retiring, Raymond attended events and lent a helping hand. He also loved to bench race. The last time I saw him was in 2016 in Jack Beckman's pit area at the Gatornationals. Yep, there was Godman telling tales of top fuel racing and groupies to Beckman and yours truly. Godman was a one-of-a-kind guy and I am proud to have known him.

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That is Raymond doing his tuning thing with his Bo Weevil AA/FD
at Bristol, Tennessee, in 1969. The Tennessee Bo Weevil was one
of the nicer show and go AA/FD's of its time. A very popular race
car with the fans in the stands.

Godman's AA/FD always flew the stars & bars flag from its roll bar.
Godman was proud of his southern heritage and displayed the flag
proudly on all his top fuel and funny cars. That is lifelong friend
Preston Davis at the controls of Godman's AA/FD. The two were
friends for over fifty years after having met at the Memphis Rodders Car Club.

I guess this is the last time I saw the Bo Weevil AA/FD race.
It was at the World Finals, NHRA style in 1971 at Amarillo, Texas.
The AA/FD was parked and a brand new 'Cuda bodied funny car
was introduced as the next Tennessee Bo Weevil in 1972.

Something new from the Tennessee Bo Weevil stables, a 'Cuda-bodied
funny car for the 1972 racing season. With Preston Davis filling the
driver's seat. The Bo Weevil raced anyone and everyone in 1972.
Here, Preston lines up against Tom McEwen in the semi-final of
the PRA $25,000 to win race in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Come the start of the 1973 season and a brand-new Mustang-bodied Tennessee
Bo Weevil AA/FC made its debut at the IHRA Winternationals in Lakeland, Florida.

Not a great way to début a new race car - Lou Azar was driving the
Phillips and Shores Fireball Vega AA/FC lost control on the burnout
and took out the all-new Tennessee Bo Weevil Mustang.
Both cars received damage but were repairable.

Well, the Bo Weevil Mustang finished 1973 as it started the year - wrecked.
After a big wheel stand, the car broke its steering and driver Preston Davis
went along for the ride into the Ontario, California, guardrail.
The Mustang received a great amount of damage to the body and chassis.

The Tennessee Bo Weevil Satellite AA/FC was the last AA/FC of Godman's that I saw run.
Here at Indy, driver Larry Ladue had his hands full with a burning AA/FC. Ladue got the car
Stopped and bailed out and the fire crew put out a rather crispy Tennessee Bo Weevil AA/FC.

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