NHRA world championship crew chief Lee Beard told Competition Plus Sunday he has retired from the sport.
“I have officially retired from NHRA drag racing,” Beard said in a text. “There will be a press release coming shortly of my future.”
Beard joined Steve Torrence’s Top Fuel team May 10, and he had some highlights with the team, but Torrence failed to qualify for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania, this weekend.
In Beard’s fourth race racing tuning Torrence’s dragster, he helped the team reach the winners circle. Torrence beat Spencer Massey in the finals at the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee.
Beard has amassed 55 national event wins with 12 different drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car.
Beard tuned the late Gary Ormsby to a Top Fuel title in 1989. In 1992 he won a world championship as team manager when Cruz Pedregon captured the nitro Funny Car title. He also was the team manager at Don Schumacher Racing when Tony Schumacher was the Top Fuel champ in 2009.
Back in January, Beard signed on to serve as the director of operations for Rapisarda Autosport International led by Australian crane mogul Santo Rapisarda and his sons, Santo Jr. and Santino. The Rapisarda team with driver Larry Dixon was competing on a limited NHRA schedule and Beard departed the team May 8.
Beard, who grew up in Pueblo, Colorado, has been involved in NHRA drag racing since the early 1970s. He is 1971 graduate of Pueblo Central High School and got his start in the sport from former Pueblo school teacher and drag racer Ed Renck.