Jim Deist in Memoriam

Auto Racing and safety icon, Jim Deist, passed away on March 9, 2009.

For over 50 years, Jim dedicated his life to improving the safety of all types of motorsports. He was an innovator, a dedicated racer, and a friend to all. Jim made everyone feel as if they were family, and he wanted everyone to be safe and survive in these deadly sports that we all love so much.





Auto racing in general and drag racing in particular lost one of its best on March 9,2009 when safety pioneer Jim Deist passed away at his home in Glendale, CA surrounded by family and friends. Deist is credited with designing and implementing the first "drag chute" for safely stopping cars at speed. He also developed the first generation of fire suits and masks that allowed countless drivers to survive fires that so often plague race cars. It is fair to say Jim saved more lives than any man in the history of motorsports and he continued his trade to his dying day. His familiar face, sage advise and unique demeanor will be surely missed by all. Rest in peace and godspeed our friend.

On March 14, 2009 many of his old friends gathered at the NHRA Wally Parks Motorsports Museum to celebrate the long and fruitful life of Jim. John Ewald was there to share, with a few photos, the memoriam with all who were unable to attend.








Louie Senter chats with Jim's daughter Dee.


As he so often does, Dave McClelland did a masterful job as MC.




Every form of racers were in attendence..drag, Salt Flats, off road, boat, motorcycle... joined by folks from NASA, Air Force and the movie industry. Jim Deist had an effect on everyone.

Louie Senter who was a very close friend of Jim's tells a few stories of their many years together. seated are Jim's wife Marion and daughter Dee.

Leroy "Doc" Hales told how Deist equipment saved him when he drove funny cars...."Without Jim's gear I would not be here today, he saved my life".

Jim would have loved this. His ashes in a rosewood box with one of his chutes attached.



A long time friend of the Deist family, Linda Vaughn visits with Marion Deist.


Marion and Louie...most of Jim's life was spend with these two fine people.


Three racers who used Jim's safety equipment from early on - Ronnie Rapp, Ronnie & Jeep Hampshire.




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