The racing industry lost one of its nicest guys the other night in Dick Dixon. He was an ever-smiling bastion of positive energy and enthusiasm. We had many conversations at many industry events over the years, and we’ll sure miss him at the next big event: the PRI Trade Show.
Southern California media relations expert Doug Stokes, of Stokes Communication, penned a moving tribute to Dick, and we would like to share it here:
My dear friend Dick Dixon left us in his sleep last night, he was a friend to many in this business, this is what I've come up with about him so far...
Here was a guy who just plain never tired of being a totally dedicated/all-in car person. As long as I'd known him I've always thought to myself that the word 'indefatigable' must have been coined for him. It was always quite clear that Dick's whole life was built around that love of machines and the thing that he loved (and did) best: sharing that love, that excitement, in so many ways with so many people.
His last foray into his automotive world was a major trip to the tap root, the mother lode, the center of his universe: The annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas. I met him there early on Tuesday morning; he was holding court in the restaurant area just off the main concourse.
Not bragging, but simply for my information, Dick reeled off an all-star list of the industry people who he had already seen and conversed with and then talked about how crowded his dance card already was for the rest of show week. That was his element, the more friends, colleagues, cronies, contemporaries, students that he met there, the stronger he got.
He told me that he would be starting a new therapy when he got back home the next week and was anticipating feeling a whole bunch better very soon.
We made plans to meet at his favorite Starbucks on Foothill near his La Verne home "next week" and then (as usual) we talked about my plans, and what was going on in my life, neatly skipping over his. That was just Dick, he was, as all of us are, vitally interested in his own life, but his friends and colleagues always came first.
I know now that he really had to pull himself up just to have the strength to make it to Las Vegas ... He just about didn't come, but his wife Judi and a good friend, and fellow professor, Pat McInturff, got him there. There, he felt little pain, he was the regular Dick Dixon who knew everyone on the floor, and who just plain, flat-out, loved being there.
No one who greeted or met with him during that week knew that it was destined to be his last great adventure among his friends and colleagues. He was getting better, feeling fine ... That's what everyone heard from him.
Yeah, he looked a little tired, a little gaunt honestly, but he was Dick Dixon for heaven's sake. He burned brightly, bravely and quickly blew off any sort of concerns put forth about his own health. "Hey ... a bump in the road ... Now let's talk about you..." (or a specific project, or school, or the next race he was going to, or Hawaii, or the Indy 500 at the end of May where he'll be sorely missed next May).
His work was always about other people, educating them, mentoring them, seeing them do well and get ahead. Dick Dixon thrived on the successes of others. His pride was all about others that he was able to help succeed. Fairly late in his life he came upon his true calling, education. As above, he had always been open and quick with counsel if anyone asked. But becoming a professor, recognized in the education system, able to crystallize his talent and offer his knowledge and expertise to willing, interested students ... that was special, that was something he never took for granted, but something that this guy felt so very comfortable doing.
Of course Dick had a teen-ager's crush on his wife Judi, you could see it in the way he lit up whenever she came into the picture ... I saw just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas; I know that Judi sees it every time she closes her eyes.
They say that close friends often feel something that almost feels like anger when one of them dies; there's none of that here. I already miss the hell out of this guy, but he paid his dues, he made far more friends than enemies, and he checked out under his own rules. I sure can't get mad at him for that
Doug Stokes -
November 16, 2012