Lee Raymond’s racing career will long be remembered for two Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) titles and a start in the Daytona 500.
It was Raymond’s unique driving style that car owner and friend Jim Coyle, for one, will never forget.
“On short tracks he would drive one-handed. He’d put his left hand on the window sill and drove with just his right hand,” Coyle said of Raymond, 59, who died Thursday evening after a battle with lung cancer. “That kind of always amazed me but it was his way of doing. He did well with it. He was just strong enough to do it and liked to drive that way. I never complained about it.”
Raymond won Coyle two ARCA championships with that driving style in 1985 and 1986. He was also named ARCA Rookie of the Year in 1982.
He made perhaps his biggest start on Feb. 19, 1989, competing in his only NASCAR Winston Cup (now Sprint Cup) race. He started 21st in the Daytona 500 and finished 26th, ahead of legendary names like Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Bill Elliott and A.J. Foyt.
Raymond was a regular on the area short tracks including Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia and Shady Bowl Speedway near DeGraff as well as the high-banked Dayton Speedway. He’s a member of both the Dayton Speedway and Kil-Kare Speedway halls of fame. Following his racing career he served as race director at Kil-Kare.
On the ARCA circuit, Springfield’s Bobby Bowsher enjoyed trading paint with Raymond just as much as trading stories.
“Lee was like another guy I really enjoyed racing with and that was Bob Keselowski,” Bowsher said. “If you raced him clean he was going to race you clean. He’d give you room if you needed it. He wouldn’t try to put you in a bad spot.”
Along with his father, Joe, the Raymonds are among a handful of father-son winners on the ARCA circuit. Joe won at Dayton Speedway in 1979. They also worked together at the family business, Joe’s Radiator Shop in Dayton.
Raymond is survived by his son Joseph and sister Joy.
Funeral arrangements are pending.