As a fabricator, engine builder, crew chief, racer, father, and grandfather, Dave Ray has earned his place in the New England Hot Rod Hall of Fame.
Rumors are that Dave first staged his Mach 1 Mustang in 1973 at New England Dragway. Dave was competitive right out of the gate and won several local events with his Mustang. Dave was always looking for the next challenge and decided to try some circle track racing for a year or two but, his wife and partner in crime, Irene was not happy about all those folks trying to smash Dave into the wall. In the late 70s, Dave jumped into the emerging Mud racing circuit.
Dave’s friend Ted Mazzotta recalls that Dave was always working on something and it was always really fast. Dave dominated the off-road racing with his D&G-fabricated chassis and hand-built engines. Whether Dave ran obstacle courses, hill climbs, or the Mud Racing stadium series, he was a winner and innovator. Dave’s famous Midnight Flyer even drove through the streets of New York City on its way to Madison Square Garden for a professional show.
In 1994 Dave once again returned his drag racing roots with his daughter Angie in the Junior Dragster ranks. Dave successfully assembled and tuned cars for Angie and she soon became a winner in her own right, starting with Junior Dragsters, then in Super Street, Super Gas, and Modified Eliminator.
Dave was always looking for the next challenge and led him to purchase the Bell Boys funny car to which he mounted a John Force Mustang body. Dave, his wife Irene, and a group of friends campaigned the Funny Car in the IHRA circuit with limited success in the 1990s. However, Dave’s ability to handle these unpredictable cars was quickly respected and admired by the competition, and he was never counted out.
Dave was also known to have some fun, so much so that the Big Foot Monster truck team was forbidden from visiting Dave at one point when they came to New England. And there was that incident in the staging lanes when Dave tugged on his buddy Butch’s pants only to find out Butch didn’t wear underwear.
One day Tom Howell of the Follow A Dream Funny Car Team asked Dave if he could help him with the exhaust on his old Cadillac in exchange for a chance to drive the Follow A Dream NHRA Funny Car. Dave laughed and told Tom not to worry he would help with the exhaust, and Tom said “No, I’m serious. I would like you to drive and help us sort out some issues we are having.” Dave agreed, and he successfully helped the teamwork out their issues and drove the funny car in NHRA competition. With Dave behind the wheel, the team won the NHRA World finals in California one year and then was runner-up at that race the next year.
Dave also won the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, the O‘Reilly Texas Nationals, and the NHRA Divisional at Atco, New Jersey. Dave made regular appearances in the late rounds of competition including numerous final rounds. Dave drove flawlessly and with extreme consistency allowing the team to be successful and leave an indelible mark in the NHRA TAFC record books.
Dave then decided to build a Pro Mod Mustang that his daughter Angie would drive and he would tune. They still run that Pro Mod today and have won races in NHRA Top Sportsman and at outlaw Pro Mod events.
Dave ray continues to build and tune cars to record-setting performances with his quiet and steady demeanor. Dave is the epitome of a racer. He is always looking to improve, and for that, he is respected and held in the highest esteem in multiple racing venues.
The Orientals Hot Rod Club congratulates Dave Ray on his induction into the 2018 class of the New England Hot Rod Hall of Fame.