Gary Beck, drag race driver (b at Seattle, Wash 21 Jan 1941). Beck raced stock cars for 12 years before becoming a drag racer, operating from his home in Edmonton, Alberta. He was an outstanding competitor in this sport during the 1970s.
He won the National Hot Rod Association championship at Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1972, and in 1974, his finest year, he won an unprecedented 3 NHRA and 2 American Hot Rod Association events, was world champion, and was named Car Craft top fuel driver of the year and Drag News driver of the year. Beck also won several 1975 events, including the Canadian Open.
In 1981, Beck was only a few points short of winning the NHRA championship. A few years later he won the Golden Gate nationals and was near the top in other major dragster meets. He finished second in 1984, but in 1985 he was successful with a win in the national event (World Finals) in California.
Beck retired from NHRA competition in 1986. Since then he has been active in assisting other NHRA teams with dragster mechanical preparation, and periodically working as a test driver for several teams. Effectively, in the 1980s Beck was a pioneer in chipping away at Top Fuel quarter-mile times. He was the first driver to achieve, in order, 5.5, 5.4, and 5.3 seconds in the top fuel category.
Beck was inducted into the Canadian Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 1999, along with his Canadian crew chief Bernie Fedderly. In 2001, he was rated as number 24 on NHRA's historic list of Top 50 Drivers, a list that was compiled to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NHRA.