Yesterday morning I received a phone call with some of the worst news I’ve had in a while: our own Buddy Matthews had died in a tragic car accident. In the phone calls that followed it was mentioned that the regular West Chapter meeting was to be held yesterday night; as a former Chapter Coordinator, I put the word out that the meeting would continue as scheduled as a remembrance of Buddy.
About 20 people showed up, some to just stop by to give condolences. Heather Powers, NCR Treasurer, showed up later, and provided a few business items such as worker credits, the annual banquet to be held in Wilmington in January and our annual upcoming election. And that we need a new Chapter Coordinator for 2019. The rest of the meeting was devoted to reminiscing about Buddy:
- Dwight Cook said he met Buddy in 1967. There was a Triumph TR4 involved which Dwight continues to race. They shared many racing adventures together: in the early 1970’s Buddy started a mini-stock race series with foreign cars such as Morris Minors (probably as rare then as they are today) which they raced at some of the smaller NASCAR tracks; this lasted for a few years.
- Buddy probably attended every SCCA Runoff at Road Atlanta, held there for over 20 years.
- Jeff Yeattes mentioned that if you had a race car in the SCCA garage in Greensboro, there was no chance of cheating because Buddy would be looking over your shoulder. And also doing that to be sure that you weren’t doing something unsafe.
- Jerry Pell was introduced to Buddy when he decided to get in to sports car racing, Buddy took him to the Greensboro abandoned auto auction where he bought a first generation Mazda RX7 for $99.00; the car ended up costing him thousands more.
- Keith Church talked about how Buddy was a tough but fair tech inspector; and how Buddy mentored many of us, as well as many others. He probably forgot more about racing than most of us will never know. We will be feeling the loss for years to come. And how Buddy didn’t care for beer but liked Scotch Whiskey.
- Pete Papas said when he was working on a former race car in the shared race shop in Greensboro, Buddy would leave sticky notes on the car about whether something was legal or not. One time a sticky note simply said NO.
- When Joedy Pennington and I were racing our Mazda RX2, Buddy was an invaluable source of advice. At my first race at Roebling Raceway, I was experiencing corner exit oversteer at most corners and went to Buddy for advice. He asked about tire pressures, and suggested we drop 3 psi out of the rear tires. That did the trick, the car handled much better after that!
Buddy held various offices in the NCR: RE, Assistant RE, Chief of Tech, DA of Tech, and most recently Chapter Coordinator for the West Chapter. He was a founding member of the SARRC and ECR series and has been an SCCA cheerleader for many years: when at a bar near a race he would get people to come see our races. He understood that our club needs new, young members. While Buddy could meet the description of curmudgeon at times, he could also have a young outlook on things. He once said “if everybody thought like I did, it would get boring”.
While there have been those that tried to take from the North Carolina Region, Buddy was one who always gave. Sometimes he gave someone a hard time: some were deserved, others weren’t. In more recent years his health didn’t allow him to do all that he wanted to do but he was still at it when he could.
Personally I enjoyed being around Buddy and his wealth of knowledge. He had a quick wit and was a great ally. When I joined the SCCA in late 1990’s, I worked with him in tech at Roebling Road at a few races. For our first race event at VIR in 2000, initially it was myself, Joedy Pennington and Buddy working tech on Friday night with a loooong line of cars waiting for their annual tech.
Heather mentioned that it had been suggested that the Tech Shed at VIR is named after Buddy, which I’m sure would be unanimous if put to a vote.
I mentioned something that I’m sure Buddy would find humorous: he’s in heaven now trying to fail Paul Newman’s race car in tech.
As we closed the meeting we all raised our glasses as a toast to Buddy. With laughter and tears we say goodbye.
Former (and staying that way) West Chapter Coordinator