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The Finish Line
In Memorium
Remembering Mr. Competition:
Dave Schultz

Words and photos by Tom McCarthy

In the early morning hours of 11 February, 2001, Dave Schultz, the winningest driver in NHRA Pro Stock Bike history passed away at age 52 with his family by his side. Schultz was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2000. At the time of the discovery, the disease had already spread to several major internal organs. When he died, it was a great loss for Pro Stock Bike racing, and a loving family.

The loss of David Schultz from the NHRA Pro Stock Bike ranks is a monumental one because of the level of leadership and dedication Schultz brought to the class. He was an innovator, a vision of "The New Breed" and unafraid to push the envelope. In short, Schultz was a pace-setter always raising the bar, particularly in standards of professionalism, and a fierce competitor. He was in fact, Mr. Competition.

So fierce were the fires of competition in the soul of Dave Schultz that despite his failing health, he could not and would not stop competing. After announcing his plight with cancer in August of 2000, between treatments of chemotherapy, Schultz continued to push ahead with his racing operation for long-time sponsor Sunoco. In October he qualified sixth at the Matco Tools Nationals in Houston, Texas on his controversial Hyabusa bodied Suzuki of his own creation and advanced to the finals against Matt Hines. Schultz defeated Matt on a hole-shot, taking the win that eliminated Hines' championship hopes for the year and sealed the 2000 championship for Angelle Seeling.

While Schultz relished the thought of playing the spoiler, his will was not so much to rain on someone's parade as it was to establish his presence as a force to be reckoned with on race day, always playing to win. Dave knew how to win better than anyone else in P/S B and the record reflects that very clearly.

Since 1987 Schultz logged 45 NHRA national event wins while amassing six Winston Championships in Pro Stock Bike competition. In 1991 Schultz with crew chief Greg Cope produced a motorcycle drag racing triple crown with championships won in IDBA, NHRA and AMA/PROSTAR sanctions. And this was but an omen of things to come.

In NHRA competition the pair shattered the NHRA's winning records in 1994 and dominated like no other team in single season history to this very day. Schultz won nine of the eleven events for the year and only lost a round when he red lighted (2x) that season. His competition record during eliminations was a frightful 40-2 for his competitors. His eight consecutive back to back wins is an NHRA single season record, still standing. They also produced a second triple crown championship in pro stock, amassing a three sanction slaughter of opponents 100 rounds won to four lost.

So dominant was the stranglehold on the class that fellow racers put a bounty on his head. At one race during the 1994 NHRA season, a cash fund was established by fellow pro stock racer Ron Ayers who initiated putting $20 per racer each round into a milk carton for any driver who could beat him during the next three races. If no one could, the money would be turned over to Mr. Schultz. His white leathers at the time earned him the nickname "Milk Man," hence the cash in the cow juice container.

As Mr. Ayers recalls, "At first I think Dave was a bit insulted but after he thought about it for a while he realized it was the highest compliment he'd ever achieved; that we wanted him so bad we put our money where our mouth is. It was really meant in a good hearted manner and it was all in good fun." Mr. Competition just used it as fuel for the fire.

David's outlook on it was a measure of true Dave Schultz. "I was intrigued at first when I realized how my competitors were responding to the win streak. Then when I realized I was also in the race for this cash by not losing a round for the next three events it just drove me harder. It became an incentive for me."

Twelve rounds of racing later the milk carton brimming with $20 bills was presented to Dave who responded while grinning, "Thanks, now I can use this for more research to find more horsepower." His sponsor, Sunoco, also liked the idea and matched the pot, bringing the total prize up to over $3,000.

Dave Schultz will long be remembered for his competition prowess but there was another side to Dave few saw except his family and inner-most circle. In a 1997 interview Dave stated, "My wife has been such a big part of everything I do. We do this together because we love it. If we didn't, I would stop tomorrow and go do something else." He spoke of his loving wife Meredith who remained at his side since 1968 and in 33 years of marriage always stood by him. In fact, the only round of Dave's racing she ever missed was when she flew to the funeral of Elmer Trett in September of 1996 out of love and respect for the Trett Family.

Dave Schultz was born May 15, 1948 in Chattanooga Tennessee. He grew up competing with his cousins at everything from tricycles to baseball. He just always possessed a drive to do his best. In high school he was president of his junior and senior class, graduating in 1966 as a member of the national honor society. He was all-conference in basketball, baseball, and track.

"I just love to compete. I like to see what I can do when I put my mind to it."

Forever Dave Schultz will remain Mr. Competition.



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