Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame Officers and Board sends our heartfelt condolences to the family of our 2015 Inductee Dick Howard.
Dick Howard “Chase The Deuce”
by Ray Cunningham - 2015 CARB Hall Of Fame Inductee Dick Howard passed away Wednesday morning in Kansas City. Here’s a look back at this legendary open wheel driver, owner, and builder, who played a significant role in super modified, and sprint car racing, from the 1960’s to the 1990’s.
Dick Howard born in 1939 started his racing career at the drag strip in the early 1960’s but found racing in a straight line for a few seconds unfulfilling. He would also dabble in stock car racing locally after obtaining a car from Dee Corey, but once again it didn’t scratch Howard’s itch.
In 1965 Ronnie Craighead was racing a sportsman super modified at Riverside Stadium in North KC and asked Howard to come and check out the racing there. Howard did, and found this type of racing to his liking. That Winter, he would assist Craighead with his car, and a career in racing was off and running for the young Missourian.
Danny Krueger was a high school friend of Howard’s who raced a sportsman car in 1966 and really enjoyed it. Teaming up together, Danny and Dick decided to build their own super modified to race with fuel injection, instead of the sportsman class which raced with carburetors.
The team would build their super based on the Don Edmunds design which was very popular at the time. Howard, a graduate of the University of Missouri with an engineering degree would go “old school” to build their version of it. Plans were drawn out in chalk on the shop floor. They would compete at tracks that including Olympic Stadium and Riverside while also racing at Knoxville in 1967.
It was at the “Super Modified Capital Of the World” that season that the old high school chums would suffer a fatal and devastating blow. During the Nationals, 27 year-old Danny Krueger was killed and Howard shelved the damaged racer for many months.
In 1968, veteran KC racer Virgil Chapman was contemplating a return to racing after retiring a few years before, and asked Dick to fix his damaged machine for him to drive. This arrangement drew skepticism from Riverside Track owner John Luteran, who felt Chapman was over the hill in racing terms.
Luteran was proven wrong however as the Edmunds Copy was ready to roll after being fixed, and Chapman was equally ready to drive the Howard super. Over the next two years, they would dominate the sportsman class at Riverside, winning back to back track titles and several feature events.
In 1970, the two-time track champs would go their separate ways, and Dick Howard would drive for the first time in his career. Over the seasons, Howard would then advance from the sportsman class to sprint cars and winged sprint cars while collecting ROY and most improved awards.
During Dick Howard’s time behind the wheel, he would win a track championship in 1975 racing in the MMSA (Midwest Modified Sprint Association) at Riverside Stadium. His engineering background would also come in handy as he was one of the first in the area to use drag tires on a sprint car for greater stagger, developed a power steering unit, and developed power assist brakes for his cars. All of these advancements helped Howard compete at an advanced level.
After racing well into the late 1980’s, Howard would also be involved once again as owner with his son Rick behind the wheel in winged sprint car competition, racing a Trostle, and a Schnee Chassis. The father and son duo would take two track titles at Linn County in Kansas, and also win a track championship at Moberly, Missouri in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Later, nephew Chris Parkinson would become involved in racing sprint cars, and would win the WAR Non Winged Sprint Title in 2014, further adding to the Howard family racing legacy.
Over the years, the likable Howard, known for the phrase “Chase The Deuce”, paying homage to his beautiful red and white cars with the #2. was the recipient of several racing awards. Included among those the Ken Williams Memorial Award, the Bill Hobart award, and the Taylor “Pappy” Weld Memorial award, while also receiving his most prestigious accolade, Induction into the CARB HOF for 2015.