By: Tim Glover
|Longtime bracket racer Dave "Fly" Edwards was taken away from us December 29, 2001, due to a motorcycle accident. He leaves behind wife Alexis, sons Kevin and David, and daughters Billie Jo and Goldie (named after Fly's mom). He also has six grandchildren from David and Billie Jo.|
His wife of eight years, Alexis, said the name "Fly" originally came from a Camaro he owned in the late 60s named "Fly High". "Also, he was always going so fast," she added. The name stuck.
She met Dave at Desoto where she raced in Sportsman. "We would all go to the fence to see the Jeep leave," she remembered. One of her memories was the first pass he made after they married featured a .500 tree and dead-on.
Racing friend Jim Carlton, who won Super Gas at the Gatornationals in 1982, remembers traveling together to a lot of races with Dave. "For a long time, we were the only two Florida racers with a win at the Gators," he said. "I know we're all going to miss him."
Edwards has won more events than most racers ever will. He won the 1984 Sunshine Dragstrip Super Pro points series, and also won his first "big money" race at Atlanta Dragway, pocketing $5000 for his efforts. In 1986, he won the Gatornationals Super Gas class in a borrowed car, the Arrowdynamic '80 Arrow belonging to Andrew Johnson. In fact, Dale Wilson wrote, "many announcers will say that he's won more races in borrowed cars than in his own," in a Bracket Racing USA article. He then mentioned Edwards was one of the first to start deep-staging, to cut better reaction times. Other racers noticed, and the practice became so popular that NHRA outlawed it in the "Super" classes. Another Edwards innovation Wilson wrote about was Edwards became one of the first racers to use a "two-step". Wilson then quoted Edwards, "(The late) Don Young, I think, was the original one to come up with the idea, but he helped me with it, and I think I had the second honest-to-goodness one that ever was," Edwards said.
He did so well with it there is now a line in the NHRA rulebook specifically banning down track stuttering. Edwards would stutter down the track for a little while in his dragster, turning in 12 second, 160mph passes.
|Edwards quit driving trucks in 1986 and decided to go full time racing. The Gene White Racing Tires sponsored dragster and an ex Pro Stock '73 Cuda named "Bad Gas" were a couple of the cars he raced. During 1988, he was the Super Comp champ at Puerto Rico Int'l Speedway, won the IHRA Spring Nationals in 8.90 class, became the first person in IHRA history to "double up", winning the 8.90 class against James Nash and the 10.90 class against David Simmons at Brainerd Optimist Drag Strip in Chattanooga, TN. He also runner upped in IHRA 8.90 class points in 1988. He finished the year on a high note with his first NHRA Bracket Finals Division Two Pro ET championship.|
In 1989, he won the IHRA Sports Nationals 10.90 class, and backed up his NHRA Pro ET crown with yet another Division Two Pro ET championship against David Simmons. In 1992, he won the NHRA Division Two Super Street championship, and added one more NHRA Division Two Pro ET championship to his collection in 1994. He was the Super Comp runner up (against David Rampy) at the Gatornationals in 1997.
The "Jeep from Hell" is another race car Edwards made famous. He spotted the partially built machine, which belonged at the time to friend George Brown, Jr., for sale in 1990, liked it because it was different, and bought it. He finished it with a big block chevy / powerglide combo, and set it up in Super Gas trim. It was featured on the December 1990 cover of Super Stock magazine.
The Jeep has since changed hands a couple of times. "Smoky Joe" Smith campaigned it in Super Gas for a few years, with the prominent "Bob Frey" on the front fender. Chris Phillips currently owns it, and the Jeep still makes a couple of final round appearances each year.
Edwards was also well known for his irreverent sense of humor. His wife of eight years, Alexis, told me someone once exclaimed to Dave, "You're so lucky you must have a horseshoe tattooed on your behind." Everyone who knew Dave could easily guess what happened next.
Eventually, the high cost of racing got to Dave, and he began scaling back his racing efforts. His wife Alexis noted that after racers started showing up with rigs that cost more than a lifetime of winnings, unafraid to blow up engines, transmissions, and assorted parts, he eventually decided that was too much. Edwards was a professional bracket racer, but to do so, he kept costs to a minimum, eschewing such luxuries as motel rooms. Kenny Underwood, another top notch Florida bracket racer from Florida, said Edwards would tell anyone that it could be done, but you had to watch expenses. Alexis said, "Many times we've slept in that trailer. We had to watch every part - everything."
|Edwards also loved motorcycles. For the past few years, he has been a photographer for Dixie Biker magazine, based in Florida. His wife, Alexis, a.k.a. Lexy, is a writer for the magazine (also available on www.dixiebiker.com).|
He will be missed by his many friends.