OBITUARY

Richard E. LaHaie

January 8, 1942December 5, 2018
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Dick LaHaie, a championship National Hot Rod Association driver and crew chief from Lansing, Michigan, passed away on December 5. He was 76.

He is survived by his son, Jeffrey (Jori); daughter, Kim Richards (Tim); step-son, Darin Stankiewicz; grandchildren, Tanna and Race LaHaie; five great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Albert Joseph and Pauline LaHaie; brothers, Karl Weinner, Albert "Skip" LaHaie.

Dick-O, as he was known by friends and family, had a career that spanned some 40 years in drag racing. Combining his talents in the cockpit and later as a crew chief, he won five NHRA championships. To this day he is the only competitor to win Top Fuel championships as both driver and crew chief in NHRA history.

LaHaie began his career at age 17, competing in his first drag race at Central Michigan Dragway, not far from his Lansing, Michigan, home. He won the E/Gas class in his inaugural outing. That victory launched his career in drag racing and he moved up to the Top Fuel category in 1964, winning championships on the United Drag Racers Association circuit in 1970, 1973 and 1976.

His first NHRA career victory came at the 1980 Summernationals.

In 1987, he captured the NHRA Top Fuel championship.

When he stepped out of the cockpit after winning 15 national event titles, he earned a reputation as one of the sport’s most coveted crew chiefs and went to work for some of the legends of the sport.

In 1993 Connie Kalitta called him to wrench for his son Scott. LaHaie helped Scott become a dominant force during the 1990s, earning NHRA Top Fuel championships in 1994 and 1995. The duo won 13 races.

He joined the Don Prudhomme-owned team in 2000 with driver Larry Dixon. They finished third that year, second in 2001, and claimed back-to-back championship titles in 2002 and 2003. Dixon, LaHaie and the legendary Snake, celebrated in victory circle nine times in 2002 and eight times in 2003 during their championship seasons.

The soft-spoken man with boundless tuning talent, was also responsible for numerous national event wins and scores of elapsed time and speed records for a variety of drivers.

Through the years, he shared his tuning knowledge with many who worked alongside him, and some who went on to become successful championship crew chiefs themselves.

LaHaie retired from his role as crew chief in 2005. He enjoyed restoring classic cars and attending car shows, and devoted his time to this hobby.

He was No. 31 on NHRA’s list of the 50 greatest drivers of all time and has been inducted into five Halls of Fame, including the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame and the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame in recognition of his drag racing achievements.

LaHaie, a spiritual man who was well-known for displaying the verse John 3:16 on all the race cars he drove and worked on as a crew chief, has gone to be with the Lord and is at peace now. One of Dick’s traits was great competitiveness. Another was his commitment to his faith. Here is the verse that he cherished:

John 3:16

For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

A funeral service will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, December 15 at South Church, 5250 Cornerstone Dr., Lansing. Interment will follow at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. Visitation will be from 2-4 and 6-8pm on Friday, December 14 at the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Homes Lansing Chapel and one hour prior to the funeral at church.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions are suggested to the Cleveland Clinic. Checks payable to Cleveland Clinic Foundation can be mailed to Cleveland Clinic Philanthropy Institute, PO Box 931517, Cleveland, OH 44193-1655. Please include a note indicating designation to the lung transplant unit in the name of Richard LaHaie.

  • PALLBEARERS

  • Race Lahaie
  • Larry Dixon
  • Jimmy Prock
  • Jim Oberhofer
  • Jon Oberhofer
  • Nick Boninfante
  • Tanna LaHaie, Honorary
  • Donnie Bender, Honorary
  • All the crew that raced with him , Honorary

Services

15 December

Funeral Service

2:00 pm

South Church

5250 Cornerstone Dr.
Lansing, MI 48917

PREVIOUS SERVICES:

  • Visitation Friday, December 14, 2018
  • Visitation Friday, December 14, 2018
REMEMBERING

Richard E. LaHaie

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David Pelley

December 15, 2018

My prayers go out to Jeff,Kim,Tim and the rest of the family.I'll always remember Dick and may he rest in peace racing away with all the other greats.I remember buying my first front motor car from him and all the help he provided.I remember being in the emergency room at Indy after his accident and the courage he had.He will be greatly missed. Due to an eye surgery Friday, i truly regret not being at his service and i apoligize from the bottom of my heart. God bless to you all and love sent. Dave and Evon Pelley,Tim and Janet Doolittle,and your friends at D.P.R.C. BLESS ALL!

Roger Hammon

December 15, 2018

I am thankful to have so many great memories of Dick. He was quite a guy. My condolences to his family.

Sheila Reid

December 15, 2018

One of the most sincere persons I ever met, I met Dick as a waitress, at Athens restaurant back in 1983. And later he would come in to the Sunrise grill every Tuesday to eat the chicken soup. There came a time I was purchasing a restaurant and the closing date didn’t coordinate with my finances. I didn’t ask, but He offered to loan me the money for the 2 weeks, so could get it done. I did not get the restaurant for other reasons. I thanked Dick and asked him why he would make such an offer to someone he only knew through years of waiting on him. This is what he told me, “ Sheila when I wanted to get into racing, I went to my boss at the time (Lansing drop forge?) and asked for a loan to build my first car, he said good luck but no. So when things got good for me, I told myself I would try help hard working others like you. The last time I saw Dick was soon after that, but every year we have talked on his birthday. Going to miss that call every year. So very thankful I got to know such a good, kind and inspirational person.

Thomas Woodman

December 15, 2018

I met Dick early on, at Capitol City Speed Shop, where my Mom kept the books. One day I was working on a coaster go kart, I got the idea for metal rod for axles. Dick was working in the machine shop downstairs. Later on, Mom brought home 2 axles, drilled for cotter puns, the pins, washers, and u-bolts to attach the axles, way more than I had asked for. I was stunned, and when I got the chance to thank him for all the extra effort, his response was, “That’s okay. Always remember, racers help each other.” He was the best then, and all through his career. Rest In Peace.

Clara (Taylor) Keeler

December 13, 2018

I was so saddened to hear of Dick's passing. He has been a true friend through the years from the time I first met him at Onondaga Dragway in the '70's. My first husband, Max Taylor, (deceased) knew him then and we enjoyed following his racing career on TV and having some great talks with him whenever he would stop by. He truly was a selfless, caring man who just happened to be a great Top Fuel Champion! One of my fondest memories of him was the year after he won the 1987 Top Fuel championship when he brought his vintage truck over to Max for him to restore. Needless to say, he was very pleased with the results. But it meant so much more when he and Claudia invited us to the US Nationals as their special guests! We got to sit in the pits and watch he and the crew work on his dragster and also got to meet many drivers (including Joe Amato) whose pit was right next to his. We also got to witness the first 4-second side by side Top Fuel race against Joe Amato. After Max's unexpected passing, Dick made sure to check in with me from time to time just to see how I was doing. He was a really good man and will be sorely missed by all of us that had the honor of having him as a dear friend. Also, I met my current husband, Kris Keeler, through our friends Jeff & Jorie LaHaie at (where else?) the US Nationals!

Our deepest sympathies go out to Jeff, Kim and the entire LaHaie family! Rest in Peace, Dick. God Bless You!

With Love,
Clara (Taylor) Keeler and Kris Keeler

Carole (Dreps) Kovac-DeMarco

December 12, 2018

Kim, Jeff&family,
I’m sorry to hear of your dads passing. I only have great memories of when you all lived next door to us on Theresa Ave. playing in the big tires. Your dad running his dragster down Everett Dr. I feel lucky I got to see him when he was inducted to Lansing’s Sports Hall of Fame.
You all are in my thoughts and prayers
Sincerely
Carole

Barbara Siergiej

December 12, 2018

Kim,
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your Dad. I know you two had a very special/strong bond. I have been searching for you and Tim for years. I'm so heartbroken that I had to connect with you over your Dad's passing.
Love & miss you!
Barbara
(Time to Travel)

Steve Canfield

December 11, 2018

I felt I wanted to say thanks for the great memories. My father Noah Canfield has passed on as well and would want to commemorate Dick and pass condolences to his Wife, Jeff, Kim. As I grew up Dick was just part of the Canfield family, he was received by my father as a son. Dick started his dragster career with my fathers Dragster, "The Glass Chariot" in the early 60's after his Oldsmobile days in Lansing.
We as a family use to go to the winter races in Fla. as a young man Dick always made feel like I was part of the team and through the years even was able to help in the pits and wrench on the car between rounds. Times I will never forget.
He will be missed, a gentleman, a great racer and best mechanic in Top Fuel. He is in a great place anyone who knew Dick. is all you had to do is see John 3:16 on his windshields of his cars to know he knew our Lord. He is reaping many blessings I am sure.
All our best from the Canfield family,
Steve, Treva, (late) Noah

Jim Hill

December 11, 2018

I met Dick LaHaie, his son Jeff and daughter Kim in the early 1970's, when he was unsponsored and racing out-of-pocket, but winning regularly. I was the PR person who shot photos and wrote the stories of the UDRA Midwest Top Fuel Circuit, and Dick was one of the first people I met. He was immediately friendly, articulate and available. During those years he was TF Champion on the circuit, but always humble, personable and genuine. Years later, when he had retired from driving and focused on tuning he remained the same Dick LaHaie, and always a friend. Drag racing has lost a true giant and a grand example of all that is good about drag racing and its people. RIP, old friend.

Vern Thomason

December 10, 2018

Having lived in Michigan all of my life and being an avid drag race fan I always followed and became a big fan and admirer of Dick. I also enjoy street rodding events and would often see Dick and Claudia cruising and enjoying there own hot rods. He will be dearly missed by everyone.

My sincerest condolences to the LaHaie family.