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Remembering Bob McCreadie

Bob McCreadie
Rick Young

Bob McCreadie, an icon of Big Block Modified racing in the Northeast, passed away on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. He was 74 years old.

The Watertown, NY driver, known as “Barefoot,” began his career in 1971 racing at tracks in Northern New York before competing against the top drivers on the DIRT circuit.

McCreadie won three Super DIRTcar Series championships, his first coming in 1985. Then, he scored his last two titles back-to-back in 1994 and 1995.

Bob McCreadie
Bob McCreadie races at Rolling Wheels Raceway in 2006/Rick Young

In 1986, McCreadie scored his most significant win, claiming his only Super DIRT Week checkered flag at the New York State Fairgrounds. He earned 507 Feature wins in his career at 56 different tracks and was inducted into the Northeast Dirt Modified Hall of Fame in 2006.

McCreadie’s on-track performance left many in awe at times, according to former Super DIRTcar Series champion Gary Tomkins. He recalled one night at Land of Legends Raceway in the mid-90s where McCreadie dominated the event.

“There were a lot of weeks where there was a really good cushion [at Land of Legends],” Tomkins said. “The kind of cushion you could run on and not beat the car up and stuff. One night, I’m running pretty good and running the cushion. And I could hear him; next thing you know, he drives by me. He’s got the whole field by a tenth or two. He’s just going to drive away and win the thing. 

“But in Turn 4, where you come in and out of the pits, it always knocked down the cushion. So, you sort of had to glide through, let off the gas a bit, and just let it slide. Right before the corner ended, the cushion was built back up and you’d hit the cushion and drive off. What he’d do, is he straightened the car up, so it’d be basically pointing at the wall at a 45-degree angle, drive straight across that area, turn the car, and hit the cushion, and drive off. 

“It was faster doing that, but man, if you messed up one time, you were going to hit the wall. It was right there. I tried it a few times after he passed me, and I said at that point in my career I’m not brave enough to do that yet. But he was doing it. He didn’t need to do it; he was just so locked in as a driver, his car was so good, and his crew was so good that he could do that and get away with it. He did it lap after lap, and he obliterated us that week. It’s just one of those deals where you were just in awe of what another driver was doing.”

While McCreadie was known for what he could do inside the car, he was also celebrated for how he acted outside of it.

“He was a humble guy,” Tomkins said. “They had an open trailer. Nothing classy. Just very humble. But once he got in a race car, he was a whole different person. It was tough to race against him because he was so good. People complain about Matt Sheppard dominating now, but they don’t remember the early 90s when Bob did the same thing. There just weren’t as many races. So, he was even more dominating. Just everywhere he went, he was the guy to beat.

“But he’d get out of the car. Be generous about his time. Be humble. Gracious. And it was really cool to see that.”

Tomkins, who drove for McCreadie in 2006, said that while he learned a lot from racing against him weekly, he learned even more from their conversations. 

“There were a couple of times I sat down and talked to him, and there was stuff he said that really resonated with me about how he approached racing and the way you should approach racing,” Tomkins said. “It really helped me become a better driver besides trying to keep up with him at the racetrack. I knew how good I had to be to be the best because I raced against the guy all the time. It was tough because he was just so good.”

Kenny Tremont, who raced against McCreadie weekly at Weedsport Speedway – then known as Cayuga County Fair Speedway – echoed Tomkins’ sentiments about McCreadie’s generosity off track.

“He was easy to talk to,” Tremont said. “You could learn a lot from Bob. He was always very helpful to me. I ran every Sunday night at Weedsport with him. I can’t say any one race sticks out more than the other, but he really had some good advice for a young kid trying to learn the sport. Just a good guy to bounce stuff off of.”

Whether on the track, in the pits, or in the race shop, McCreadie left a lasting impact on his fans, competitors and the entire Northeast community. 

Bob McCreadie at Cayuga County Fair Speedway
Bob McCreadie’s car in the pit area at Cayuga County Fair Speedway/Rick Young photo

That extends to his Victory Lane celebrations, where he was gracious and respectful – all 500-plus times.

“When I interviewed him, he was always very courteous and very descriptive of what happened that night,” former Super DIRT Week announcer Joe Marotta said. “He did not like to talk a lot, but he did talk quite fluently and always gave a pretty good description of what happened. And he’d always apologize. I hit so and so going into Turn 1 and didn’t mean to do it. I backed out of it. Things like that. Always just very courteous.

“Just a real, true gentleman.”

McCreadie’s racing legacy lives on with his two sons, Jordan and Tim McCreadie. Both have followed in their father’s footsteps, becoming prominent figures in the Northeast Modified community. Tim has also gone on to win three national dirt Late Model championship, including the 2006 World of Outlaws Late Model title.