Mike and Lesley Demers
As shown in the sample posted on August 11, “J.D.: Last of the Independents” will chronicle the life and career of J.D. McDuffie, his rise from a local dirt tracker into one of NASCAR’s most determined veterans. Included are stories from interviews with those who knew him best: the close-knit group of sponsors, fans, and family who kept McDuffie Racing going. Some of them will be attending Darlington this weekend.
In early August 1991, J.D. McDuffie loaded up his hauler “Old Blue” at his shop in Sanford, North Carolina and headed north. He planned to run the next two races at Watkins Glen and Michigan, then return home. He’d skip the following race at Bristol - his car wasn’t fast enough to make the show that spring - so his next attempt would be the Southern 500. It was a calculated decision. A fund raiser before the spring race at Darlington helped him secure his first start of the ‘91 season, and the 30th-place finish was his second-best of the year. Perhaps, with his best car now repaired, his 40th start at “The Lady In Black” would also prove successful. Tragically, he never got the chance.
That is, until now.
LASTCAR.info would again like to thank Bob Jenkins and Front Row Motorsports for their help coordinating a J.D. McDuffie tribute car in Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500. Like J.D. before him, driver Landon Cassill will pilot the gold-and-blue #38 Ford in a bid for his first Sprint Cup victory. The paint job resembles the Chevrolets that J.D. raced in the late 1970s to some of his greatest moments: his lone pole position at Dover in 1978, his start in the inaugural Busch Clash of ‘79 at Daytona, and a near-victory at the Nashville Fairgrounds later that year.
On one quarter-panel of Cassill’s #38 is Bailey Excavating, whose founder William "Bill" Bailey sponsored J.D. during that period. Company owner John Bailey and his son Jacob still work out of the same shop in Jackson, Michigan, where for years they have preserved “Old Blue.” The Baileys will drive the 1970 Chevrolet ramp truck to Darlington this weekend. It’s the first time Bailey Excavating has sponsored a NASCAR team since John Bailey himself fielded Camping World Truck Series rides for driver Andy Ponstein in 2003.
Also joining the Baileys this weekend is Don Rumple, whose father the late Tom Rumple joined McDuffie Racing in the mid-1980s. In J.D.’s final years, hardly any car he drove was without the bold yellow “Rumple” logo on the TV panel above the rear bumper. Like the Baileys, Rumple Furniture is still in business today, Don working out of their showroom in Elkin, North Carolina. Rumple’s logos last graced a NASCAR Sprint Cup ride in 1994, when James Hylton attempted to qualify for the inaugural Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. This weekend, they’re guaranteed to start the race with Cassill aboard.
In January, you will learn more about Bailey, Rumple, and others who helped keep #70 on the starting grid. Best of luck to Landon Cassill and Front Row Motorsports this weekend, and stay tuned to LASTCAR.info and my Twitter feed @LASTCARonBROCK for more news on “J.D.: Last of the Independents,” coming to Amazon on January 10, 2017.