Road Racing Legend Chuck Daigh Passes

April 30, 2008 – Arcadia, CA ? Chuck Daigh passed away this morning at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California after 10 weeks of heart and respiratory illness, he was 84. Chuck built hot rods prior to WW II and ran at the Dry Lakes. After his duty as a paratrooper he worked for Bill Stroppe preparing the famous Mexican road race Lincolns and riding as co-pilot in three of those races with Walt Faulkner and later with Chuck Stevenson after the death of popular mechanic, Clay Smith. He joined Pete DePaolo Engineering where he managed the west coast semi-factory Ford stock car team. While at DePaolo’s, he prepared cars to compete at Daytona Beach where he set records on the sand and Ralph Moody first won the Daytona race in one of the cars that Chuck brought from the west coast.

He fielded a team that set many records for Ford while completing 50,000 miles on the Bonneville Salt Flats and helped build the Battlebirds as well. He worked for the Rathmann Chevrolet NASCAR stock car team. After Rathmann’s Chevrolet stock operations shut down as a result of the AMA ban on factory racing involvement in 57 he left to work building the Reventlow Scarab Sports Car and Formula One cars.

In recent years he rebuilt two of the Reventlow F1 desmodromic valve motors for collectors and was most recently building a Blown Flathead Lakester that he drove several times last year at El Mirage Dry Lake in tests sessions.

As a driver, Chuck won the Willow Springs and Santa Barbara Sports Car Main events driving a Kurtis 500S – Lincoln that belonged to Frank Kurtis. He later won the Main Events at Paramount Ranch and Santa Barbara driving the Troutman-Barnes Ford powered sports car special. Chuck won several more big sports car races with the front engined Scarabs, including the Los Angeles Times Riverside Grand Prix in 1958. He also won the big Nassau main event with a Scarab. Daigh drove for Ferrari at Le Mans. He set fastest lap at Le Mans in a streamlined Birdcage Maserati that he shared with Masten Gregory in 1960 and co-drove the winning Ferrari at Sebring one year with Dan Gurney and added partners Phil Hill and Oliver Gendebien in 1959. In 1960 he drove the Reventlow Formula One car in international races at Spa, Rheims and placed 10th at the final race at Riverside in ?60. Racing historian Michael Lynch adds, ?Neither Scarab qualified for Monte Carlo in 1960. Only 16 starters were allowed in those days because of an FIA formula that specified how many starters there could be according to the length of the course. There were 8 cars that DNQ that year in Monaco. The only GPs the Scarabs started in were Spa, where the fastest one (Reventlow) was 19.7 seconds off the pole and both DNF. Daigh started at Riverside (USGP) 8.2 seconds off pole and finished 10th, 5 laps behind. The Scarab’s other attempts at GP racing were at Holland where both DNQ and France where both Ginther and Daigh blew their engines in practice. When they packed up after that, it was to ship the cars home. Daigh did get a ride in a Cooper that year at the British GP, qualifying 7.8 off pole and DNF.?

Chuck tried to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 three times through the years but the cars weren?t able to get up to speed. Daigh also drove for Briggs Cunningham, with the Lister-Jaguars, several times. Later, Chuck worked for Frank Arciero in 1963-64 where he rebuilt the Coventry Climax four cylinder motor in an old Lotus 19 and won a professional race in the mid engined car. Soon after, he finished second to Skip Hudson’s V8 powered car at the Riverside USRRC professional race.


Daigh also set the USAC Stock Car track record in qualifications on September 15th, 1957 at the Milwaukee Mile using the name, ?Charles George.? Daigh finished second to Ralph Moody the previous race. ?ed.

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