By J.T. LeFever
Ned Lucas is one of my favorite all time drivers. It didn't matter what was going on Ned would take the time
to seek you out and talk. For my money nobody carried it in the corner the way Ned did. When it was time for
qualifying you always knew Ned would try running it wide open with no fear. From the way things has gone I
would say that's the way he lived life.
Around the grandstands he is often called Bro. Ned is no doubt like a bro to all. And anyone who came in
contact with him was sure to leave with a smile on their face. Ned is not only a favorite to many fans but a
favorite to many drivers as well. My Dad always got a kick out of hearing Ned shout Hey Verny bro.
Just like when I saw the 7L pull in after doing this interview you couldn't wipe the smile off my face. I'm proud
to call Ned a friend, a bro, and a legend of this sport.
The following is an interview I did with the legend and all who read it will see that Ned is still fearless in life
as he was racing.
JT LeFever: Bro can you tell us a little bit about how your doing and what you’ve gone through with your
Ned Lucas: Well I come down with the cancer bro.
JT: How did you find it?
Bro: Well I fell out of the back of a pick up truck. Fell out on my hip and my leg got to hurtin. I went to the
doctors to see what the problem was and they x rayed that baby and they said man ain’t no place around
here that can help me. They sent me to St. Louis and that was the closest place to me like that. The
Washington medical center. We went out there and they x rayed and everything and it was prostrate
cancer. There was a tumor that come over to my right leg and it eat a hole through the femor and the hip.
They had to go in there and take all that out and replace it.
JT: Sounds like falling off that truck could have saved your life.
Bro: Saved my life bro. Can you believe that? (laughs)
JT: Didn’t you end up going through 2 operations?
Bro: Yeah I had to go through 2 operations. First they put a rod down through the femor and the leg got to
hurtin later on. They went back in there and they thought the cancer had come back. But when they went in
there and took the hip out and replaced it. They went ahead and replaced the femor and took the bone and
x rayed it and it didn’t have no cancer in it.
JT: Are you able to walk?
Bro: Oh I’m walking great and I’m still here.
JT: How long did it take you to get back walking?
Bro: Took about a year. I had to lay in bed with a brace around me for 6 weeks. Couldn’t even roll over,
had to lay flat on my back. Then I got to where I would get up. Couldn’t stay up long but I would get up. It
was real hard. Once they took the brace off I got up and got going. It’s took me about a year. I get around
real good now.
JT: Where were you born?
Bro: I was born in Bornwell, West Virginia. Where that’s at I don’t even know bro.
JT: So you didn’t grow up there?
Bro: No I growed around Grayson, Kentucky. Around Jack Boggs and that bunch. We all growed up
around there. I knew Jack when he was probably up around his 20’s. Maybe 17 or 18. He had a drag car.
He dragged a little bit then there on the street. And he fooled with Stevie Wagner and I loafed down there
all the time. That’s how come I knew Jack and them.
JT: Did you start before Jack Boggs?
Ned: Yeah he started about 1970. He come to Morehead with an old Ford car.
JT: When did you first start going to the races?
Bro: I went to watch Wayne McGuire. They called them super modifieds back then. But the sprint cars
have took the place of them now. I went and watched Wayne a couple times and that was it.
JT: I heard he was really tough.
Bro: Oh man let me tell you bro. That was one of the toughest cats that ever walked. He would win 40 some
features a year. He won with the Spencer’s and them guys, they was pretty tough too. But boy they couldn’t
out run him. Of course he was a full time racer too and that made the difference.
JT: Junior and Paul Spencer?
Bro: Yeah, you remember that bro?
JT: I never saw them but I heard a lot about them.
Ned: I went, they run up there at Huntington, West Virginia. They had a dirt track on the back side of
Huntington and I went up there one time and watched them. Then I went to Portsmouth, Ohio down there on
JT: Where was that in Portsmouth.
Ned: It was on the backside of 52 there bro. Little ¼ mile asphalt.
JT: What got you started driving?
Ned: That made me want a race car bro. I didn’t have the money until I got about 24 years old and I finally
got up enough money to build me a race car. We went over there to Morehead Speedway that’s where we
JT: What was your first car?
Ned: 1957 Chevrolet.
JT: You built it yourself?
Ned: Yeah. I didn’t have much help back then bro. But Wayne McGuire he kinda guided me along a whole
lot and helped me bro. Cause I didn’t know nothing about a race car. I got a lot of ideas from him.
JT: What was the number of your first car?
JT: Was there any reason for #22?
Ned: I don’t know bro (laughs). I don’t remember why #22. I just picked it.
JT: How long did you run that number before you switched to #7?
Ned: I probably run that 3 or 4 years and then there was some more cars that come along that had #22. So
then I went to #7.
JT: I thought it was always 7L. I thought it was #7L when Dad drove it at Eldora one time but Dad said he
didn’t think it had the L on it. When did you add the L to it and become #7L?
Ned: There was 2 or 3 other cars that had #7 on them. I would go to the track and have to change my
number. So I just put the L on the end of it kinda like Jack Boggs did. He run B-4. So I just put an L on the
end of it and that way when I went to the track I didn’t have to change my numbers.
JT: What was your favorite car?
Ned: My favorite car I drove was that Rayburn car. We bought a Rayburn car in 19 and 84. Mono leaf car
and boy let me tell you. That was a fast car. That thing was fast right when we brought it home put it all
together and put a body and stuff on it. It was fast right from the start. It was consistent everywhere you
JT: What kind of engine?
Ned: It had a 430 Gaerte in it.
JT: That didn’t hurt it either did it?
Ned: (Laughs) That helped it bro.
JT: What about your first car, what did it have in it?
Ned: It had a 409 Chevrolet in it bro. I went and bought it in Ashland out of a 1964 Chevrolet in a junk yard
bro. 409 and it last us, but we didn’t think it had enough power and the next season I got a 427. I bought it
out of a wrecked car and put in it. Back then you know (laughs) wasn’t none of that hopping up and that
kind of stuff cause you didn’t have all that much money see. Just about everybody was running 427’s then
they went to 454’s cause you could buy them out of junk cars for $300-400 dollars and that wasn’t really all
JT: What year did you move out of Grayson?
Ned: 1980 I moved to Beaver Dam, Kentucky.
JT: You still got family in Grayson?
Ned: I got a sister down there.
JT: How many brothers and sisters you have?
Ned: I got a brother and 2 sisters. I got a twin brother. Me and him are identical. And my 2 sisters are
JT: Seems I remember him at times maybe I thought I was talking to you. What was his name?
Ned: Gaylord and a lot of people did that bro.
JT: He still around?
Ned: Oh yeah, he’s from up there around Florence. Around Cool Springs out there.
JT: What was your favorite era?
Ned: I liked the wedge, you know back there where they had the spoilers on the sides. I liked those cars.
JT: I did too, but a lot of people don’t like them.
Ned: Boy they was fast. I liked the top off of them bro. Just sit there and get with it. (laughs)
JT: I like them topless too. For the fans it’s great, you can sit there and watch them wheel it.
Ned: Yeah I do too. But you know when UMP came along it cut all that garbage out. (laughs) I never did
care much about the UMP.
JT: Me either. What was it you didn’t like?
Ned: The tire rule and all that. I never did like the tire rule bro. Cause you had to run them LM tires with
their stamp. Cost more money, you had to pay to join.
JT: And they hacked the cars all up.
Ned: Yeah. They created money through the UMP organization is the only thing I can see bro. That’s why I
didn’t like it cause to run the UMP you had to have those LM tires plus you had all them other tires you
run up around Ashland and up in there. That’s why I didn’t like it. Just cost more money.
JT: Did you have a favorite track?
Ned: I like that Southern Ohio track. Half mile banked bro.
JT: Any tracks you didn’t like?
Ned: Oh there was a lot. Just like over there at Windy Hollow, and there was a track down there I never
did like. I never did like that track down to Atomic, there at Chillicothe, Ohio. I never did like that track
bro. It was like running in a bowl. I didn’t like to run in a bowl. You was sideways all the time and I didn’t
like it. It’s just a tough track to pass on.
JT: You know that’s where the DTWC is this year.
JT: That’s where the DTWC is this year.
Ned: You got to be kidding?
JT: No, that’s where they moved it to.
Ned: So they are not going to have it at Bardstown?
Ned: Man o man. Bro that place up there won’t seat all them people. Why did they move it up there?
JT: I don’t know. I think they pretty much had to after they had the train races down at Bardstown that
everyone was complaining about. I enjoyed the race year before last. Even though it was slick I saw some
good racing. But everybody complained about it. Then after last years oil race I knew it would be moved.
Ned: And they took it to KC?
Ned: Man o man. Down there at Bardstown it had plenty of room and everything bro. Wonder why he didn’
t take it back to West Virginia bro?
JT: I don’t know. I figure Pennsboro would take a ton of work.
Ned: They probably wouldn’t let him come back there after what he did bro. KC I never dreamed of them
having it there bro.
JT: I heard they were bringing some seats in.
Ned: They don’t have room to park all them campers do they bro?
JT: From the last time I was there I don’t think they do. I guess time will tell. I don’t think I’m going to go.
Ned: I know I’m not going. I don’t like that place. Never did like it bro.
JT: Let’s move on. I can remember you running Eldora weekly in 1978. I remember my Dad leading the
points and breaking one day there. What possessed you to give up your ride to him that day?
Ned: Well he was leading the points bro and I always liked your Dad. We never had no problems. I don’t
know I just got out and let him have it. (laughs)
JT: That was a pretty good haul for you up there.
Ned: About 5 hours. I run up there about every Saturday night. I don’t know I just liked that place bro. I
just liked Eldora. It was fast you know, any track that was fast I always liked.
JT: Something I’ll never forget at Florence. I don’t remember if you didn’t have anybody there to help you.
But I remember you coming up to me. You were starting on the front row of the feature. You said, “Hey bro
stand down in turn one and let me know if I get a big lead.
JT: My arms kept getting wider and wider until I couldn’t open them up any wider. (laughs) You were gone.
Checked out. I remember they had a yellow flag. You remember?
Ned: Sure do.
JT: Tell me about that.
Ned: I don’t know bro. That old car just all of a sudden it took off. When they had that yellow flag and we
got going again. Randy Boggs run into the back end of me and broke the motor mounts loose. I didn’t know
it at the time, but it broke them and I could never get it to go no more after that. So I pulled in and that’s
when we discovered it broke the motor mounts.
JT: If I remember right there was only 2 or 3 laps left.
Ned: There wasn’t very many.
JT: I thought for sure you had them covered.
Ned: Well I did until that caution come out bro. I was done gone. That’s about the best I ever run there at
JT: I believe you had them by a half track and that’s tough to do there.
Ned: Yeah that’s tough bro. That old car I don’t know bro, that thing hooked up and took off and was gone
man. I mean you could drive it anywhere you wanted it and it would stick.
JT: Was that a Rayburn?
Ned: That was a Rayburn cantilever bro.
JT: What did you think of the cantilever?
Ned: I think the cantilever is better than a swing arm myself.
JT: I do to by far.
Ned: I really believe that. I believe that cantilever worked a whole lot better.
JT: Did you always run Rayburn after that first one?
Ned: Yeah I always run Rayburn. My first Raybrun was a mono leaf car like I said in 1984. Before that we
got one of Doug McCammon’s chassis that was before they started building the square tubing frames. It
was like the open wheels now. It had a snout off of a Camaro in the front and the rest was square tubing.
But the last car I drove in 1999 I built myself. I made a jig off a Rayburn car and still got it. I had the jig
made in two pieces. Cause if it was all one piece there was no way I could handle it.
JT: That’s the way to go right there.
Ned: Well it’s a lot of work.
JT: Yeah but if something happens you can fix it yourself.
Ned: Yeah, but see everybody went to 4 bar at that time and I didn’t. I didn’t want to change my ways. I
should have changed. (laughs) bro and I got behind.
JT: Do you have a most memorable moment in racing?
Ned: Ahh, they was all memorable to me bro. I liked them all. (laughs) I liked to race man. I guess it was
JT: It is additive.
Ned: Especially when your running good. When your running bad you know it’s not a very good feeling.
JT: What was your last race?
Ned: My last race was down to Paducah, Kentucky in 1999.
JT: Was that when you found out about the cancer?
Ned: Yeah got cancer.
JT: You had a battle with this for a little while now.
Ned: Yep, it was pretty tough. I use to run about 2 miles a day until I got cancer. I also used a stepper for
30 minutes a day. Cause you know I had to keep up with these young guys bro. If you didn’t you couldn’t
keep up with them or I couldn’t. I was in pretty good shape.
JT: I have to think going through what you did. You had to have a lot of people around you.
Ned: Yeah we really did. The church and all those people bro they helped out. Hadn’t been for them we
probably wouldn’t have made it.
JT: Tell me a little about your wife and kids.
Ned: I got 4 kids. I got 3 kids by my first wife and I got one by my second and I don’t have no more bro.
(laughs) They are all out. (laughs)
JT: What’s your kids names?
Ned: Kristi, Anita, Renee, and Tony.
Ned: Tony’s let see here. He’s about 42 years old.
JT: 42? How old are you?
Ned: I’ll be 63 in November bro.
JT: What’s your wife’s name?
JT: Tony never did have a desire to race?
Ned: Never did want to bro. I could never understand that. Bro you know I tried to get him interested in it
when I was probably up in my 40’s. If he would have got in there and got interested why I would have
helped him and then I would have stepped down you see. But he would never get interested in it. He went a
time or two and that was it.
JT: I didn’t know you had a son. Most the time I ever saw you Kristi was right there,
Ned: Yeah she went quite a bit. She was good help Kristi was.
JT: Have you got any advice for somebody starting out today?
Ned: Boy you got to have a lot of money. You got to know somebody that’s got some knowledge about
racing you know. Somebody that will kinda help you out bro. If you don’t you ain’t gonna make it.
JT: Definitely ain’t like starting out in 1969 is it?
Ned: No (laughs)
JT: Did you have any supporters at the time that should be mentioned?
Ned: I had Addington’s mining they give me money every year there bro. For what they give me a year I
could get a real good aluminum engine. That help me keep a real good motor in the car. I also had a guy by
the name of Tim Lewis that helped me all the time. When he quit I never run worth 2 cents after that.
(laughs). This guy he could watch the car go around the track. When I would come in he could tell me what
that car was doing and I would know what to do to it. That guy was a plus for me. We worked good together
and he knew what was going on. I never could pay nobody cause it took every dime I could find to keep the
JT: What do you see for the future of Dirt Late Models?
Ned: Bro it looks like the World of Outlaws to me. If you don’t run it you might not be running. For the
local tracks they all just about quit running late models around here.
JT: What’s their headliner?
Ned: Mods, open wheels. That’s what they all went to, it’s cheaper. They pay $500 to win and they can
charge less at the gate like $8 to get in.
JT: Thank God I live where I do. I wouldn’t pay to see mods and we still have late models strong around
here. I don’t think WoO will make it.
JT: What direction would you like to see the sport head?
Ned: Well you know it’s all become a big business and it’s all big money. That’s the way it’s going to go
just like Nascar and all that kind of stuff.
JT: What do you think about the crate engine series?
Ned: What are they running them in bro?
JT: Late Models.
Ned: Oh yeah I think they run them down here at Paducah. Well bro they don’t pay no money. I understand
them guys only run for like 4 or 500 dollars to win. That ain’t no money. By the time you buy tires and
everything you can’t travel no where for even $1000 bro.
JT: Since you have been involved with racing what do you think the biggest change has been?
Ned: Well it’s all computerized stuff now. Back years ago you didn’t have a lot of money and kindly run out
of a junkyard. It’s all about money today. Just like anything bro. If it last long enough it ends up all about
JT: Tell me about yourself outside of racing?
Ned: I still like to go watch them bro. I really enjoy that, sitting back up in the crowd and watch how the
guys go around the track. Watch how they drive and all that. I just piddle around the house here and take it
easy bro. I got a buddy that runs an open wheel and has a garage and I go down there and loaf a little bit.
JT: Is there anything you want to say to your fans reading this?
Ned: I just appreciate all the fans coming and supporting racing back when I was running. Cause that’s
what helped us going was the fans. It wasn’t us drivers it was the fans.
JT: I like to think it’s a little of both.
JT: Do you have any regrets?
Ned: Naw, I loved it. When I raced that’s all I thought about. Man racing that’s all that was on my mind.