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Fri, Dec 18, 01:24 AM

Buddy Morrison Succumbs to Cancer
Courtesy of Rick Voegelin

Pro Stock Mourns Loss of 'Gentle Giant'

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Charles D. "Buddy" Morrison, co-founder of Reher-Morrison Racing Engines and partner in the Reher-Morrison racing team that won seven NHRA and IHRA Pro Stock championships, lost his two-year battle with cancer shortly before midnight on Tuesday, December 15. He was 54.

Morrison is survived by his wife, Susan, and sister, Carolyn. Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.

Buddy Morrison was born June 27, 1944, in Huntsville, Texas. His mother was an English teacher and his father a professor of agriculture at Sam Houston State University. Morrison studied at the college where his father taught until he transferred to the University of Texas at Arlington to pursue a degree in architecture. There he met David Reher, the son of an economics professor from Iowa, with whom he shared an interest in drag racing.

Reher and Morrison were the perfect partners: One had an engine, the other had a car. This casual "marriage of convenience" became the foundation for a lifelong friendship and an enduring business partnership. Their personalities seemed to complement each other, with Morrison's effusive exuberance counterbalanced by Reher's quiet reserve.

Morrison's interest in architecture was soon overshadowed by his passion for internal combustion. After five years of study, he dropped out of college to devote more time to racing.

Reher-Morrison Racing Engines opened for business in 1971 in the back of an auto parts store in the dusty suburb of Mansfield, Texas. The founders' only assets were a tool box and a conviction they could build winning motors. They were right; success and customers quickly followed. The enterprise soon expanded to an industrial stall on Arkansas Lane in Arlington, Texas. In the early days, Morrison literally lived at the business, his bed and dresser sharing a small room in the corner of the head porting shop.

At 6-feet, 5-inches tall, the bearded Morrison was an imposing figure. The term "gentle giant" was an apt description; Buddy's intelligence, charm, and playful humor won many friends. He was widely respected for both his accomplishments and his integrity. Morrison was a founder of the Pro Stock Owners Association and an outspoken champion of the Pro Stock category. His influence reached far beyond the quarter-mile as Reher-Morrison developed working relationships with factory engineers and top NASCAR teams. Parts and technology developed in the Reher-Morrison shop eventually found their way to the high-banks at Daytona and the starting grid in the Indianapolis 500.

Morrison had an avid interest in all things mechanical. As a youth, he was a ham radio enthusiast. He became an accomplished machinist and later developed a fascination with computers. He designed and built the team's first flow bench, engine dynamometer, and spin fixture - innovations that gave the team from Texas a competitive advantage at a time when such equipment was not generally available. His abiding love of architecture found expression when he designed a 20,000 square foot building for Reher-Morrison Racing Engines and a spectacular home overlooking a tranquil pond in rural Lillian, Texas.

Morrison had a passion for new projects, and was constantly taking on new challenges. He oversaw construction of the team's transporter, reveling in the design of the intricate hydraulic systems that operated the race car elevator and engine hoist. He became an aviation expert, earning a pilot's license with a multi-engine rating. He taught himself to program the computer-controlled machining centers that ported cylinder heads and profiled piston domes for countless racing engines. At the time of his death, he was actively involved in a new NASCAR Craftsman Truck program with driver David Starr.

Morrison left his mark in motorsports as a member of the dominant Pro Stock team of the Eighties. Reher, Morrison, and driver Lee Shepherd teamed up to win 26 NHRA national event titles. The three Texans won four consecutive NHRA Pro Stock championships in 1981-84 and back-to-back IHRA championships in 1983-84.

Following Shepherd's death in a testing accident in March 1985, Bruce Allen joined the team and claimed Reher-Morrison's third straight IHRA championship. Allen subsequently added 12 more NHRA national event victories to the Reher-Morrison record. He finished third in the NHRA standings three consecutive seasons (1985-87), and was runner-up in the 1989 championship.

David Reher and Buddy Morrison were honored as the "Pro Stock Engine Builders of the Year" five consecutive times (1982-86) on the Car Craft All-Star Drag Racing Team. Reher, Morrison, and Shepherd were named "Persons of the Year" by Car Craft in 1980.

Morrison's universe extended beyond the race track; his interests ranged from avionics to civil engineering. Buddy and his wife Susan shared their home with their prized Shelties. Their expansive living room was often the scene of impromptu soccer matches with their dogs.

Buddy Morrison was a big man in all respects. He will be missed throughout the world of motorsports.

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