Drag racing star Don Schumacher dies at 79

By Jen Krausz on
 December 23, 2023

Drag racing star Don Schumacher, who later became a team owner, died of complications from lung cancer at age 79 on Wednesday, according to the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).

His cancer was treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center, a place to which his family has requested donations in lieu of flowers.

Schumacher had five wins on the Funny Car between the 1960s and 1974 when he retired. He helped to start that designation in the NHRA.

He returned in the 1990s to start the Schumacher racing team, which became the winningest Funny car racing team in history.

“We are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Don Schumacher, a truly legendary name in NHRA Drag Racing and motorsports," NHRA president Glen Cromwell said in a statement. "As both a driver and celebrated championship-winning team owner, Don was passionate about racing and driven to succeed, committed to safety on the track, and a remarkable person whose influence on the sport will be felt forever. He leaves behind an incredible legacy, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his friends, family, and everyone at Don Schumacher Racing.”

“If I had to describe Don in one word, it would be 'driven.' Anything he was passionate about, family, business, racing, even fishing, he went at it hard," NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart said. "As much as he wanted to win, he also wanted the sport to thrive. He was a fierce competitor who supplied the sport and his competitors with parts, safety, and technology, and he raised the standard of excellence. When it came to business, he was all business. But when someone was in need, he would be the first to step up and offer help. His influence will be felt in the sport forever.”