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Dick Durant - SCCA racer - CM, Corvette, Can Am, Sportscars - It's Time to Brake

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Old 03-17-2013, 06:36 PM   #1
Procrastination Racing
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Default Dick Durant - SCCA racer - CM, Corvette, Can Am, Sportscars - It's Time to Brake

Dick Durant 1932 - 2013
http://www.racingsportscars.com/driv...urant-USA.html

I have known Dick since 1978. He was truly a racer to the core and loved his Corvettes. He bought his red 1963 Corvette convertible in 1965, I think he said, and never sold it until December 2007, and only after he had his new 2008 Corvette convertible. I received this yesterday on racing list:

"On Friday, March 15, 2013, Dick Durant passed away from the pancreatic
cancer he had been fighting. It was important to him to get this message
out to you all. He was 80 years old and is survived by his wife, Judy,
his 3 children and 3 darling grandchildren."



Dick Durant was an engineer at McDonnell Aircraft in St. Louis starting back around 1959. He began racing about the same time. His engineering talents paid off as he designed and built several SCCA race cars over the years. He raced up into the mid 1980s when he moved with McDonnell to California. He continued working even after McDonnell became Boeing.

The way to tell his story is in his own words. Dick had a way about telling stories hat got your attention, and if you paid attention between the laughs, there were many valuable lessons to learn.







Durant Special
"Good pics of my old car. I sold it to a guy in St. Charles called Jerry Hodges who hacked around on it and turned it into a FA car. Years later another guy described some stuff he saw in a junkyard that sounded a lot like the decaying remains of this machine. The car is like the builder…one off and the mold was thrown away.

That damn cable was the Achilles heel of that Chevrolet injection. I do not think resonance was the issue because a twisted drive cable like that has huge damping in all modes nor do I think that RPM was a problem because we never turned those engines too fast ‘cause they would fly apart. What we did was to cut off the cable housing, just retaining the two ends which centered the cable in both the distributor and the pump. I would also do frequent inspections of the wires in the cable with a jeweler’s loupe. All this worked pretty decent but it did not save me from losing the National Championship in CM while leading in the second last lap of the race at Daytona in 1965.

Dick Durant"


1969 ARRC Daytona
"My number was 47. That’s me cruising around Daytona in 1969. Cruising is the operative word since the car was already sold to Ron Morse and I had the ex-Carl Hass Lola already in my garage with a Can-Am deal made for the next year. Check out the Barford Chevrolet logo on the back fender."


Durant Road America


Durant Racing 81




His 2008 and 1963 Corvette convertibles
"I did most of a frame up restoration of the old girl before I moved out here and finished it up here and have been driving the thing every day since then. In the spring of 2007, Judy got the itch for another new car (for her) and ended up with a Cadillac SRX cross-over and I was impressed big time with how well that thing drove. It handled and stopped way better than the Corvette and went just about as quick, besides that it had all these cool gadgets. I got to drive it a little bit and got to thinking that I ought to sell the Corvette and buy one of these too. Then I came to my senses, if I am going modern I might as well get something really cool…a brand new red Corvette convertible.
...
My new Corvette and I developed a love affair so intense that I never looked back, the only time I ever miss my old Corvette is when I think of the “thumbs up” I used to get going down the freeway. New ones are infinitely more cool but don’t rate a “thumbs up”. Let’s face it, 63 Corvettes belonged to the school of American cars that had 300 hp engines and 30 hp brakes, handled like dogshit and were basically not a very good car. The new Corvettes have 400 hp engines, 600 hp brakes and 1000 hp handling and tires and come in a package with auto locking doors, XM radio, HUD, navigation system, auto seat and mirror position, lateral “G” meter, and heated seats for LA winter cruising with the top down. The reason the tires are not all torn up on the edges is not because I drive it too slow, Goodyear Eagle F-1 tires are made for speeds that even I can’t make without being put in jail for the rest of my life. I have exceeded 0.96 G in freeway roundabouts without much argument from the car, all of this and I get almost 22 mpg commuting. This thing is a piece of work!"



It's time to brake. May you rest in peace.

Last edited by Procrastination Racing; 03-17-2013 at 06:38 PM.
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Old 03-23-2014, 11:45 PM   #2
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One fine racing and engineering background. He's in heaven with legends like Carroll Shelby.


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Old 10-28-2014, 10:59 AM   #3
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One fine racing and engineering background. He's in heaven with legends like Carroll Shelby.


Really sorry to hear about Dick's passing. I saw him race numerous times at Road America & Lynndale Farms from '63-'65. As a kid back then (and still), my favorite cars were the home-built C Modifieds; I really liked Dick's first Pontiac-powered car, and then the second one (pictured), which was much faster. I was able to finally get his email address maybe 10 yrs ago, because I wanted to find out about this car, and he was kind enough to tell me about building & racing it. He said the early can-am cars 'were squirrely as hell', and he did well with his front-engined beast because he had the same power, but could get it to the ground better coming out of corners. He designed the frame for it by making models out of sticks till he got what he wanted. Thanks so much for posting the great pix of the car!
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Old 04-23-2016, 11:05 AM   #4
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I just bought a 2016 Z06 and was trying to look up Dick's contact info to share the news. You see, He and I used to work together at McDonnell Douglas in Huntington Beach, California. We haven't been in touch since I moved to Colorado. Very sad to learn that he passed away. He was quite the character and a fantastic engineer! We lived only about a mile or so from each other as well and we used to car pool to work. So I used to ride in that 63 Corvette when the occasional "thumbs up" would be signaled by another driver. Also, much to Judy's chagrin, I was also responsible for rekindling Dick's interest in skiing.

I'm headed to Bowling Green tomorrow for the Museum Delivery of my Z06 on Monday. I'm sure that on the drive back home to Colorado I'll be thinking of my friend Dick Durant and our conversations, engineering projects, night skiing at Mountain High and trips in the car pool in that 63 convertible.
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:44 AM   #5
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I remember his history . Dick had some great races. We have lost many great Racers in the last 18 months. RIP Dick.
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Old 07-14-2016, 10:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Rick_Q View Post
I just bought a 2016 Z06 and was trying to look up Dick's contact info to share the news. You see, He and I used to work together at McDonnell Douglas in Huntington Beach, California. We haven't been in touch since I moved to Colorado. Very sad to learn that he passed away. He was quite the character and a fantastic engineer! We lived only about a mile or so from each other as well and we used to car pool to work. So I used to ride in that 63 Corvette when the occasional "thumbs up" would be signaled by another driver. Also, much to Judy's chagrin, I was also responsible for rekindling Dick's interest in skiing.

I'm headed to Bowling Green tomorrow for the Museum Delivery of my Z06 on Monday. I'm sure that on the drive back home to Colorado I'll be thinking of my friend Dick Durant and our conversations, engineering projects, night skiing at Mountain High and trips in the car pool in that 63 convertible.
I first met Dick at a McDonnell Sports Car Club meeting in the '70s. He was one of the "old" guys in the club who was good for a bunch of tall tale stories. Of course, the more I got to know him, the more truth I suspect there was in each of them.

MSCC used to do a lot of rallies. On about the third rally a buddy and I went on, my buddy suddenly became all tense. "Do you know who that is in that car?"

"Sure, that is Dick and Judy Durant. What's the big deal? We beat them last time out." What else could you expect from a 24 year old Corvette driver with a couple of years of racing under his belt when talking about some old guy (probably about 45 then)?

I can't remember the outcome of that rally, but then I learned they ran them all seat of the pants, no calculating average speeds or odometer error or anything while we worked our butts off with calculators and dual stop watches and such.

I got to know most of the MSCC people and we would hang around a lot of them and my buddy's EP TR-3 and another guy's FF out at Mid America Raceway. I got to fully appreciate Dick and his knowledge and his plain sense approach to racing. A lot sounded like down-home ramblings, but if you listened carefully, there was a lot of very complex and sound engineering in what he said.

Judy hated motorcycles. Jill and Amy were always begging for rides if I had the bike at MAR while crewing, and Dick would have me sneak off with them to give them rides when Judy would wander off with someone to other areas of the track. One time, she came back early and I got caught. I don't know who she was madder at, me or Dick.

Fast forward to '91 and I was on my Great Western Motorcycle Trip, stopping in California since Dick invited me to stay for a few days. Judy didn't know that but she had mellowed and even allowed me to park the bike in their garage, probably since there was no place to park it outside. She didn't go for a ride, though.

Dick helped me install a luggage rack I had picked up on the trip, and in return, I crawled under the dash of his '63 to fix the clutch pedal that he couldn't reach under there.

I think you were off the hook on the skiing. Judy told me Dick's habit of roller blading down to the car pool was what was bothering her then.
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Old 07-15-2016, 07:36 PM   #7
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