Former NHRA Southeast Division Director Lex Dudas passed away Tuesday, May 8, after a long battle with cancer.
Dudas, who spent the last years of a 55-year career in the sport where he started, at Maple Grove Raceway, retired at the end of 2017.
Dudas first arrived at Maple Grove Raceway as a fan in 1962, then a racer in 1963, competing with a 1963 B/S Plymouth. Dudas joined the Maple Grove team part-time in 1969, working in timing tower organizing handicaps for eliminators and doing other jobs, before joining the staff fulltime in 1971. He stayed at the track for eight years, working his way to be part of the management team, before being recruited by NHRA as its Southeast Division Director in 1978.
Dudas held that important position with NHRA until 1991, during which time he successfully helped lobby NHRA to host a national event at Maple grove raceway. That quest came to fruition in 1985 and the popular event continues to this day.
Dudas left his division director post to become General Manager of NHRA-owned Indianapolis Raceway Park. In the four years he served there, he also was the group general manager of NHRA-owned facilities.
Dudas left NHRA in 1996 to serve as Director of Operations for Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1996-’97) and then General Manager at Pikes Peak International Raceway (1997-’98). In 2000, he was named general manager of the American Speed Association’s ACDelco Series.
Dudas eventually returned to Maple Grove Raceway in 2004 as Director of Sales and Marketing and was promoted to Vice President & General Manager in 2007, a position in which he served until his retirement last year.
“All of us at NHRA were deeply saddened to learn that Lex Dudas passed away,” said NHRA CEO Peter Clifford. “His many contributions to NHRA drag racing will not be forgotten and we are grateful that he was a part of our sport. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dudas family during this most difficult time.”
In a statement released by the staff at Maple Grove, Dudas was remembered as a man who “touched the lives of thousands, with each one having a memory or story to share. One of Lex’s best attributes was the ability to see the potential in people. He was able to see something, many could not even see in themselves. He was a tough businessman with a gentle heart and his wisdom and life experience were unprecedented.”