Thursday, May 01, 2008

God's Speed Chuck Daigh

This evening it was hard to for me to break the sad news to Frank Ruppert about Chuck Daigh's passing since they had been best of friends for a lifetime. I listened as Frank reminisced about countless adventures Chuck and he shared. Frank recalled times when Chuck had worked for Clay Smith and when Chuck had driven Frank's service truck when Frank took part in sponsoring Clay Smith in a 1948 Mercury in the 1952 La Carrera Panamericana. (photo below) Frank described what was truly a gentleman and quietly said the world has lost a fine man.

Chuck Daigh was born in Long Beach, California. He built hot rods prior to WW II and ran at the Dry Lakes.

He served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne during WWII and saw action in France, Belgium and Germany, including fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. On his return he went to work for Bill Stroppe and Clay Smith preparing the Bob Estes entered Lincoln Capris for the Carrera Panamericana Mexican road race. He was the co-driver on three occasions, in 1952 and 1953 with Walt Faulkner, finishing 8th in 1953 and with Chuck Stevenson in 1954 when they failed to finish.

Chuck Daigh also drove Stock Cars in NASCAR as well as many other venues of racing. On the 29th of May 1960 he debuted in F1 and participated in another five Grands Prix at the wheel of a Scarab and a Cooper. What you will not see is the little known fact that he was the chief engineer that designed and built the Scarabs that became so famous. It was Daigh that drove the Scarab to victory in the 1958 Riverside International Grand Prix beating a field of international factory teams including famous race car driver Phil Hill and the Ferrari Team. Carroll Shelby drove the Scarab sports car built by Daigh to victory at the Continental Divide raceway in Castle Rock Colorado setting a new course record. He was also a successful sportscar driver in America, winning the 1959 Sebring endurance classic and also tried to qualify twice for the Indianapolis 500.

Like my good friend Carson Scheller said, "There goes another one .. crossin the final finish line of life... checkers wavin... crowd cheerin... hot tires, engine steamin and a satisfaction of a life well lived... RIP Chuck Gaigh."

Chuck Daigh died in the hospital in Newport Beach, California after a brief battle with heart and respiratory problems at 86 years of age.

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