KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Hall of Fame sprint car driver Ray Lee Goodwin has died. He was 81 years old.
Goodwin gained national fame when he won the 1968 Knoxville Nationals at Iowa’s Knoxville Raceway, where he raced for much of his career.
Goodwin won 18 features at Knoxville Raceway and was the 1971 track champion at the legendary half-mile track located on the Marion County Fairgrounds.
Goodwin was inducted into the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame and 20 years later was part of the 10th election class to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in 1999.
Goodwin began his career as a 19-year-old supermodified owner at Kansas City’s Olympic Stadium. He owned the car because you had to be 20 years old to race. His older brother Jimmy and Jim Hurtubise both drove the car.
Goodwin eventually took to driving and started winning races in bunches. He was the Kansas City Auto Racing Club champion three consecutive years (1964-’66). In 1966 and ’67, he won the Kansas Jayhawk Ass’n of Topeka title.
He eventually branched out to IMCA racing and in 1968, drove the No. 24 fielded by Charlie Williams and Gary Swenson. They ran numerous events that season, but their biggest conquest came when Goodwin led all 30 laps of the Knoxville Nationals.
In 1969, Goodwin won 19 features, including a preliminary main event during the Knoxville Nationals wheeling the No. 24 machine.
Goodwin, Williams and Swenson won the Knoxville track title in 1971 and the following year chased IMCA points and earned the championship in convincing fashion.
Goodwin won another preliminary feature during the Nationals in 1973 and continued to rack up victories across the Midwest.
However a pair of vicious accidents at Knoxville in 1974 and ’75 led to his retirement.