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Big Joe Reath passes

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by snaptwo, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. snaptwo
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 696


    I just got a call from a tearful Richard Heath that Joe Reath passed away this AM with his wife Del at his side , he had not been doing well and was in the hospital. I'll post more later. Damn ! Another father of our sport has left the building.
  2. Joe was the go to guy for so many years here in So Cal. And who can forget the historic Dunn & Reath rear engined Barracuda Funny car that they ran - Big Jim Dunn behind the wheel and a 392 Hemi from Joe going against all the 426's

    Godspeed Joe
  3. 60srailjob
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,219

    from nowhere

  4. Bucksnort
    Joined: Dec 24, 2007
    Posts: 3,302


    Another good one gone
    Fond memories of Dunn&Reath and Reath cranks

  5. Sorry to hear this..REATHS place was "home away from home for all old TEXAS racers while visiting Southern Calif back in the "good old days"
  6. 60srailjob
    Joined: Nov 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,219

    from nowhere

    the Dunn and Reath cuda was bad ass....the movie Funny Car Summer, My son watches it all the time.....
  7. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 25,969

    Jalopy Joker

    Sincere Sympathy goes out to his immediate Family, and his big Family of Friends. had been sick for quite some time. made over 50 years of history with drag racing, land speed racing and more.
  8. snaptwo
    Joined: Apr 25, 2011
    Posts: 696


    Yes Joe and Del helped many folks , even guys like Roger Penske when he was nobody. He and Jim Dunn were pretty close friends . I still haven't heard back about arrangements but will keep you HAMBers advised.
  9. alloriginal
    Joined: Feb 8, 2006
    Posts: 7

    from ENGLAND

    I first met Joe and Del in 1983 when I went in his shop on Cherry Avenue, Long Beach looking for parts to take back to the UK. I got the guided tour of the shop and warehouse and what a place it was and what a guy Joe was. Every trip out there I would go round to the shop and sit for hours listening to the stories of the Old Days at the Drags, Building Engines etc. I learnt so much by just listening and taking it all in. If you think of a name that goes along with Hot Rodding and Racing they will have all been in the shop at sometime or another. I think one of the best days Julie and I had in the shop was when we went to pick up the crank and the rest of the parts to finish building my hemi, to find it was his 78th birthday and was invited to the party. That first meeting 30 years ago seems like yesterday.

    You will be missed by many Joe - R.I.P.

    From John Kellett and all the members of the Originals Hot Rod Club UK.
  10. lawman
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,665


    Boy, Now that is a name from way back in the day !!!!! R.I.P Joe.
  11. dragsled
    Joined: May 12, 2011
    Posts: 1,976

    from Panama IA

    Very sorry to hear this Tim Jones
  12. R.I.P. Joe, always liked the picture of the Dunn Reath car with driver in full foil fire suit next to it.
  13. lawman
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,665


    Boy, Now that is a name from back in the day !!!! RIP Joe.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  14. I first met Joe in 1974, was 15 years old. I wanted to build a stroker flathead and he took me under his wing. No kids were building these at the time - I think my Mom and I coming to see him must have amused him a bit. He just decided to invest time and energy with a true newbie. Was my first big HotRod Engine Mentor - helped me with all my early projects, came to see me race at the Antique Nats and was a great friend. What a wonderful man - we've all lost one of the greats!

    RIP my old friend Joe :cool:
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2013
  15. Royalshifter
    Joined: May 29, 2005
    Posts: 15,641

    from California

    Bummer......we are only the followers of greatness. RIP
  16. GaryB
    Joined: Dec 19, 2008
    Posts: 3,529

    from Reno,nv

    sorry to hear,helped with machine work,advice on a BBC I was building.good people
  17. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    Member Emeritus

    Time just keeps gulping up our heritage. God speed Joe. You were one of the great ones.

  18. Godspeed, Joe Reath. In addition to all his racing history, he was a fine human being. Prayers sent for Del...
  19. Full of stories and jokes..... He was a great guy, always a good time with him and the Mrs. I remember the phone was always ringing and being waited on was a wait but worth it.
  20. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,124


    It is a sad day indeed. When I worked at Douglas Aircraft, we spent lots of time at Joe's shop. When he found out I was from Tehahcapi, he couldn't wait to talk to me. His dad was one of the original engineers at the cement plant east of town in Monolith. Joe spent his early childhood here and knew lots of the founding families In Tehachapi. Any time I would call there he would stop what he was doing and talk to me on the phone and ask about the old timers in town. The heads and pan on my roadster came from Joe just before he gave up the new shop. The oil pan has dents just below the pan rail and was off an old fueler the let go. I told Joe that I would leave it as is since it didn't leak and proudly show it as a REAL veteran. God speed Joe you were a real one of a kind and I am honored to have known you.
    alanp561 likes this.
  21. McDeuce
    Joined: Sep 16, 2008
    Posts: 258


    RIP Joe ... Godspeed
  22. kennkat
    Joined: Aug 25, 2011
    Posts: 1,383


    So very sad to hear. I grew up in So Cal, Joe was always "the best" in my opinion.... A real wealth of stories laced with info.... Long live the memory of "Reath Automotive"!!!
  23. A true legend. Godspeed.
  24. hotrod40coupe
    Joined: Apr 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,559


    Rest in peace my friend. I knew Joe for more than 50 years. He was always a true friend and introduced me to many of the greats over the years. You will be missed greatly, Joe.
  25. Jim Stabe
    Joined: Oct 31, 2008
    Posts: 179

    Jim Stabe

    I worked at Bill Hays' shop in Midway City when he was doing the electronic ignition conversions in the early 70's. One day Joe came in with a '57 T Bird that he had installed a monster big block Chevy in that was producing something close to 600 hp. Joe and Bill went off to lunch somewhere and he had me but an ignition kit on the car while they were gone. Even his street cars were insane. That was the fastest thing I had ever driven. Joe was a legend around Long beach and all the SoCal drag strips. He will be missed.
  26. Project Paladin
    Joined: Nov 10, 2012
    Posts: 229

    Project Paladin

    A true pioneer. How many race cars had Reath on them.
  27. That was a silver T-bird with a 440 BBC in it (was a bored out 427 if I remember), had a Art Carr turbo 400, etc.. He and I used to go to lunch in it and he'd burn the hell out of the rear tires for fun and games. Had a chance to buy that car for $10,000 or so (early 80's) - wanted the car, but didn't have that kind of money. (Sure wish I did, or I'd still have that car!).

    Hell of a man!
  28. RIP Brother....
  29. bathcollector
    Joined: Jul 8, 2006
    Posts: 263


    I went to Reath Automotive on a U.S. trip in 93. Joe was an absolutely great guy to talk with, spent maybe 4 hours there. He took us in to his office to find something special in the way of a T shirt for my girlfriend at the time. The stories were great. Del had made Joe,s lunch and he said just take a look around yourselves, i'm sure there will be something you want. Hell ! what a place. I would ring Joe and buy parts off him occasionally and would always be at least 20 minutes on the phone, more great stories and he would always take a genuine interest in what i was doing. A really great man that will be missed by many i'm sure. R.I.P Joe.

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