Billy Meyer

July 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured Hall of Famer

The Waco native was one of the sport’s most successful Funny Car racers prior to his retirement from driving at only 33 years of age. Meyer began his career at the age of 16. At the time, he was the youngest person ever licensed to drive a funny car.

In 112 NHRA races Meyer went to the finals 22 times, for a final round appearance percentage of 20 %. He earned 12 NHRA National Event victories, for a final round win percentage of 55%. Those percentages are higher than any current drivers except John Force. Meyer contested the NHRA Winston series championship every season he raced. He finished in the top 10 every season he competed, completed the Winston season in the top three six times, and was a three time Winston series runner-up. Meyer also competed in the IHRA Winston series, which at the time was a viable rival to the NHRA. He won one IHRA Winston Funny Car Championship, collected eight IHRA victories and was a four time winner of the Spring Nationals at Bristol, Tennessee.

Meyer’s career highlights include the following; he was his own crew chief for all but 6 months of his racing career, he won the last race he participated in prior to his retirement, the NHRA Winston Finals, and he recorded only one red light in his total career. Meyer also was the first Funny Car owner to win races with two different drivers, himself and the late Tripp Shumake, in a single season. Finally, Meyer was selected to be one of the top 50 drivers of all time in 1998.

Meyer’s successes were not limited to the race car. During his career in racing, Meyer was in partnership with Hal Needham in the Budweiser Rocket Car. This car achieved the land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats and was the first land vehicle to break the sound barrier. It is now housed in Smithsonian Institute. In 1986 Meyer constructed the first state-of-the-art super track, the Texas Motorplex, in Ennis TX. He won the Car Craft Magazine Person of the Year in 1987 and the Racers for Christ person of the year in 1988. Meyer had the opportunity to author the Boy Scouts of America Automotive Mechanics Merit badge in 1991. He created the successful Castrol GTX Hotline 900 line for instant NHRA results. Finally, Meyer owned and published Drag Racing Today the only industry bi-weekly magazine.

Meyer retired from the driver’s seat in 1987 but has never left the sport of drag racing. He continues to own and manage the Texas Motorplex and be involved with the lives of the past and present racers. Meyer has started and/or owns and runs a wide variety of successful businesses in Central Texas. He and his wife of 30 years, Deborah have two grown children and reside in Waco, TX.

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