J.D. raced NASCAR and was seldom seen without a cigar, even in his racecar. Over his 28 year career he raced as a privateer, starting 653 races. And, though he never won he was one of the most appreciated drivers by fellow competitors and fans.
John Delphus (J.D.) McDuffie was born in Sanford, North Carolina, where he and his wife Ima Jean made their home and raised their two children.
He first raced on the Grand National circuit at Myrtle Beach Speedway, then known as Rambi Raceway, on July 7, 1963 . Starting 14th, he finished 12th.
J. D. and he was seldom seen without a cigar, even in his racecar. He claimed that a good cigar would last him 100 miles and if he went through five cigars, he'd had a good day because it meant he'd finished the race.
J. D. was never a rich man and he ran his opperation on a shoestring. He did most of the preparation work himself, making do with used parts and part worn tires and the few employees he had only worked part-time. His pit crew was usually made up of volunteers recruited on the day of the race.
J. D. used to drive his racecar to meetings strapped to the back of his pickup truck, called Ol' Blue, which had a flatbed body.
J. D. did pick up a little money from sponsors, but they were usually local businesses and would never amount to more that buying a few new parts or another set of tyres.
Over 28 years, he started 653 races, he finished in the top-five only 12 times and in the top-ten 106 times. He never won a race, his best finish was third at Malta, NY in a 100-mile race in 1971. He did take one pole at Dover in 1978, running on McCreary tires, which may have been the reason. That pole enabled him to run the very first Busch Clash in 1979.
In his 653rd race at the fifth turn at Watkins Glen on the fifth lap of the race, something broke and a wheel came off leaving him without brakes. His car slid sideways into Jimmy Means and though Means was able to slow, McDuffie hit the tyre wall at full speed, took off and landed upside down against the guardrail. Jimmy Means tried to help but to no avail. J. D. had been killed instantly when the roof of the car struck the guardrail inflicting fatal head injuries.
McDuffie's fatal crash and a serious injury to Tom Kendall six weeks earlier in the Camel Continental VIII, led to a new bus stop chicane being installed just before Turn 5.
J.D. McDuffie is still the record holder for most starts in NASCAR's top touring series without recording a win.