Tribute to a Legend

Marvin Rifchin

June 03 2009: Marvin "Marv" Rifchin - no one can adequately convey what this one man single handedly contributed to the sport drag racing. He was in a class by himself. At the tender age of 94 Marv left us to join his long time M&H Tire partners Harry Rifchin and Ernie Hashim. Marv had one hell of a run at this deal and has left a legacy second to none. Few people in any endeavor can truthfully lay claim to the fact that they initiated a paradigm change, not once but again and again! Such a man was Marvin Rifchin. He was a man of fierce independence, loyal to his friends and he never stopped working to make things, specifically racing tires, better. He had been in and out of the hospital the last few months with a long list of old age related medical problems, but his brain was still sharp to the end. He will surely be missed.

He is survived by a daughter Debbie, her husband Bill and two grandchildren.

Editors Note: Herein you will learn most everything there is to know about Marvin Rifchin - there are more than one account of how he got his start in our sport and although not all accounts may mirror each other, among them lies the entire story of a great man.



It was a year ago this week that my dad, Marvin Rifchin passed away. I wanted to say thank you for the beautiful tributes you all have paid to him. He would have waved his hand and dismissed you all but inside the tough exterior, the sweetest man on earth would have loved it! It has been a difficult year of missing the guy that was always there if you needed him and always ready to offer an opinion even if you didn't really want to hear it. I didn't see my father all that much as a young kid....he went to the shop early, came home for dinner and then back to work. Every day. If he wasn't at his place in Watertown or Gardner, he was at the track. Although I know he loved me with all his heart, it was at the racetrack that he was the happiest. You all were his family as much as I was and he cared deeply for all of you. As it got tougher for Dad to get around, it was the phone calls to and from all his racing family that kept him going.

As he lay dying, he did not talk about us. Dad knew we were okay. He was ordering us to write down tire numbers and to call about the Boise race results. To the end, he did what he loved and on his own terms. It has given me great comfort to come back to this page every now and then and see how much he was loved and appreciated by so many people. The midget guys are running a yearly race in his honor. All of these things don't make me miss him less, but they help me see a side of him I didn't get to see very often and love his memory more. Thank you for all your tributes. Knowing that he lives in others memories means so much.

Debbie Rifchin McDowell



The M&H Story

In the 1930s Harry, Marvin's father had a tire sales and recap business. They purchased standard retread rubber from Denman Rubber Mfg. Co. of Warren, OH.
Marvin, an avid midget racing enthusiast, got them involved in making recaps for midget and stock car racing and formed the M&H Tire Co.( for Marvin & Harry). Marvin convinced Harry Webster, the president of Denman, to supply them (M&H) with a special rubber compound designed to work much better for racing than the standard recap rubber. (that was designed for regular highway service). This started a long relationship with Denman as the supplier of more and more types of M&H racing recap compounds through the 1940s.

In the 1950s race cars became more powerful and faster and began to over stress the recapped tires, causing the treads to frequently come off during a race. Marvin approached Harry Webster with the idea of manufacturing new tires for M&H, engineered specially for racing. Mr. Webster agreed so they took an old passenger tire mold , machined most of the tread design out of it and used it to make the first new M&H race tires for modified stock cars. Yes, M&H was the top tire to have on your circle track car in the 50's.

All the while Marvin and his Dad ran their tire operation, based in Watertown, Mass, as a family business and although passenger car and truck tires paid the bills, it was circle track tires that took up most of Marvin's time. But in the mid 50s a new sport called drag racing got his attention and his new goal was to develop a tire - specifically a rear tire - especially for an acceleration contest. By late 1957 Marvin had developed tires made specially for drag racing and soon after, M&H entered the business of actually manufacturing tires in house. Needless to say, they were among the first and would prove to be the most enduring.

Yes, at the time, Rifchin was better known for producing circle-track tires, but then, in 1958, after legendary Top Fuel racer "Big Daddy" Don Garlits tried a set of Rifchin's drag slicks at a race in South Carolina and won Top Eliminator, the die was cast.

"I knew about this man [Rifchin] who was into stock car races," said Garlits before Rifchin's 2003 induction into the SEMA Hall of Fame in 2003. "He said that I needed a tire that’s not recapped. Marv had these tires that had the same mold but softer rubber. They were narrow, about 6 1/2 inches wide, but he said that wouldn’t matter. I didn’t know that much about tires back then and listened to what he had to say."

."We made tires for all types of race cars,” said Rifchin, “but my primary interest was in drag racing. That was the most fascinating part of my life. But it became my primary interest because we had a lot of fun doing it."

Rifchin himself often admitted , "In the early days, everybody was so broke, I’d have to give ‘em a tire every now and then to keep ‘em going. You know, I worked with a lot of fellows in racing, and I never found a bad one."

When Goodyear entered the drag racing tire market in 1964 Rifchin found the competition stimulating and a lot of fun, and the company continued to thrive.

"I think the greatest accomplishment that any of us could have were the tire wars that we went though with Goodyear,” said Rifchin "The competition lead to us being instrumental in securing some of the most fantastic advances that have taken place in mechanical and scientific business."

By the late 70s M&H had developed tires for almost every kind of racing over the years, which were produced exclusively for M&H at the Denman tire factory in Warren, OH. However, Marvin's insatiable desire to make M&H tires better and faster than the competition lead him to establish and operate his own tire factory in the early 1980s. He was about 65 years old when he started that project!

Then in the late 90s Marvin finally decided to sell the M&H Co. and at least retire from the everyday manufacturing operation. But as we all know, the word retire was not exactly in Marv's vocabulary.

In January of 2001 Marvin made a deal with Warren Guidry owner of Interco Tire, a family run company designing and marketing ultra special tires for high performance trucks, 4 WDs, and ATVs. Tom Lorden came on board at that time to run the new M&H Racemaster Inc. Co. and Marvin agreed to remained involved as their consultant and adviser. He remained active until a week or so before his death, even after he became ill and was hospitalized a couple months ago.

Special thanks to Tom Lorden who is Gen.Mgr. for M&H Racemaster Inc. for supplying the M&H time line and much more about the man he knew so well.




Marv, in the checked shirt, poses in the winners chicle (a place very familiar to him) with the Top Fuel team of King & Marshall. This would be circa 1969.


Hank Westmorland in the seat for M&H diehards Jim & Alison Lee at Island Dragway in 1967. That's Jim Lee in the hat with Alison in the smoke behind him. The late great Marv Rifchin is standing in the booth.


Don Roberts in the seat of the King & Marshall Top Fueler in 1971.



I have lived in the greater Boston area my entire life. Drag racing has been a big part of my life for almost 50 years. Through the years all of the great drag racing parts and services were made performed somewhere else. Not very much happened in Boston or the New England area that was significant when it came to drag racing.

When I was a kid I read all of the drag racing and car books I could get my hands on. In all of those publications I would always see the ads for M & Tire Company and the drag racing tires they made. One day I looked and saw the address for M & H was at Main Street Waltham, Massachusetts....WOW !!!!. There was someone in my backyard who made the best drag racing tires on the planet.

When I started going to the drag races in Sanford, Maine in 1963 all of the cars had M & H slicks. All of the hired cars I saw at Sanford had M & H Tires, Garlits, Ivo, Bob Sullivan, Pete Robinson, The Dead End Kids, Sy Sidebotham, A & B Speed Shop, Dick Roberts, everyone, they all ran Marvin Rifchin's tires and I was so proud that M & H was right here in greater Boston.

When I first started driving the fast cars in 1968 I went to M & H in the early spring and got our tires for our top gas car to start the season. I dealt with Marvin's lead guy Frank Zuppa who would go on to become a close friend of mine, and right from day one, for whatever reason, I got the " long deal " discount from Frank. As the 1968 season went along and we did well with the top gas car Marvin and Frank showed up at New England Dragway one Sunday with a brand new super secret set of tires and Marvin asked me if I would try his new tires. I told Marvin I didn't have the money to pay him for the tires that day, and Marvin said "Don't worry about it, just put the tires on". I can't remember just what we ran, but we went on to win that day and Marvin and Frank were happy with their new tire. I wanted to pay Marvin for the tires with the money from the top gas win, but Marvin wouldn't take the money. That was the start of a long and wonderful relationship with Marvin and Frank that I was so fortunate to have.

Rifchin and M & H Tire Company went head to head with Fortune 500 companies to produce the best drag racing tire he could. And Marvin beat Goodyear and Firestone more times than they beat him. I remember seeing a picture of Don Garlits at a late 1960's race at Bakersfield over at the M & H tent trying to get a set of Marvin's new tire that was working better than the Goodyear's that Garlits had on his car. Frank told me years later that Marvin told Garlits he would have to see if there were any extra tires for him and to come back later......!.

When I had a bad accident in top fuel in 1975 Marvin was one of the first people on the phone asking me what he could do to help. I was so touched and I am still to this day. Years later when I saw Marvin at the races I always got a hug and the typical Marvin Rifchin kind words, always asking me how I was doing.

Marvin Rifchin was good to everyone and I am so fortunate that I knew him well and I will always be thankful for everything he did for drag racing.

Marvin took on the giants and he beat them soundly, but what we should all remember Marvin Rifchin first and foremost for being a good and decent man.

We all are so lucky to have him in our lives once upon a time.

Don Roberts



It was said back in the day that if you appeared in a Pete Millar DragCARTOON you had made it. If you were featured in a Millar cartoon you were a god. Here is a piece Pete did on Marvin in the late 60s.




Marv & Suzi at the 2005 CHRR

Marvin was part of my life for over 40 years and I always thought of him as my dad, and he treated me like a second daughter. He is my sons godfather and I used to talk to him on the phone at least twice a month. When Debbie and Bill (Marvin's daughter and son-in-law) called to tell me he had passed away my heart almost stopped beating.

Marvin was very philanthropic and helped many people. When Pete Robinson died Marvin set up a scholarship fund for Pete's kids. Marvin's wife, Ann, was the one that let the cat out of the bag. Marvin was a humble man who poo-pawed his kindness away.

In the early 70's Marvin purchased new drapes for his wife's Synagogue. Tim and I were staying with them because we were tire testing for M & H. Ann, his wife of over 50 years, and I went to Yon Kippur services because I wanted to see what $10,000. drapes looked like and they were stunning! (Marvin said for that kind of money they should have put your eyes out) <grin> It was a lovely service and Ann explained everything as it went along. At one point children of dead parents walked out of the service. Ann said it was bad luck for them to stay while the Rabbi spoke of the deceased. That's when I cried my eyes out over losing Johnny (Mulligan). Although I'm not a religious person, I felt comforted.

Both Marvin and Ann were wonderful people and I thank the universe everyday that I knew and loved these dear people

Marvin and Ann will be in my heart always.

Take care, Suzy Beebe




What a sad day: I can't think of any one man that helped me more than Marv. I can't count the times i was running his tires and Goodyear or Firestone had a tire working better that weekend then look up and here came Marv rolling a set of competing tires. That's just the way he was. What a great man and will be truly missed. RIP my friend.

Jim Nicoll



Marvin Rifchin was, and always will be dear to me. I spent several years living with the legend-- Words cannot describe how grateful, and humbled I was to have this great privilage, he was my grandfather. Reading these passages, all the kind words, I cannot express enough gratitude towards those of you who will cherish his memories as I do. I may not know the racing side of the story, but I do know how much he cared about each and every one of us. His years with me were some of the best of my life.

I'm proud to say that I am a part of this man's legacy, and it was my days with him that make me cherish his memories even more. I am not a tire/racing guy, but a cook, and when his praises would reach me about my food I was the happiest young man on the planet. On these occasions I felt such pride, that I could feed his critical palete. "My compliments to the Chef," he would say, and I could never forget how his words meant so much. As his praises, at least towards myself and my brothers, were rare. He was a man of habit, spending his days chittering away on his type writer, working, ever vigilantly, on one aspect of his company or another. I may never know what he was typing, or what it meant, but I know it was his passion.

Rest in peace Grandpa.

Luke McDowell


June 3rd 2009 Nitrothunder Racing lost the greatest Friend, Pal, Fan, and Buddy for the love of speed we ever had. Marvin loved just being part of the drag racing world and being involved with all the racers and fans.

We have a lot of good memories of Marvin at the races from his BIG SMILE on his 89th birthday in May 2004 at Vegas to being flashed by a spectator while sitting in his golf cart. He also LOVED the rides back to the L.A. Airport from Bakersfield in the rental cars being driven by our crew members Steve Watson or Rayce Munchmore, he said it brought memories of his circle track racing (drive it like a rental).

Marvin was like a GODFATHER to us and a lot of racers, he was very concerned about the safety and welfare of all the drivers , and he was dedicated making the best tire possible for every racer.

Missed will be having Marvin come by after each run to see and inspect his tires and listen to his advice on what we can do to make the tire bite better or listen to his IDEAS on how he NEEDS to change the tire to improve it. His mind was always 100 percent to improving.

Missed will be the rides back to the motel listening to Marvin tell of his stories and memories of the racers that he enjoyed working with in perfecting the early drag slicks ,Roland Leong, 240 Gordie Bonin, Don Garlits and Mike Snively's first 5 sec. run at Ontario.

Missed will be the phone calls when he had a new IDEA on how he was going to improve his tires. It took 3 years for him to get the new 1300 tire made and approved and proven, which was his last goal and dream to build the Quickest and Fastest tire for its class.

I was blessed to have known and associated with such a Giant of a person as Marvin, as he will truly be missed by all of us in the drag racing world.

Thank you Marvin for letting me be a little part of your life. GODSPEED MY FRIEND.



Marv and Jack Harris spent many hours together over the last several years. Jack is still running M&H tires and can boast the quickest and fastest Nostalgia Top Fuel times in history on them.




Over the past couple of years Marvin came to a number of the nostalgia races and tire tests. I had met Marvin years ago when I did some PR work for him at the 1969 World Finals in Dallas, but now I had the good fortune to be able to spend some time with him and benefited from our conversations about tire technology. He was still passionate about the subject and willing to share his vast knowledge..

At one of the races he gave me his personal slide rule-type speed calculator (tire circumference versus RPM), the type M&H distributed back in the 60s and 70s. Marvin never thought of himself as an icon of the sport, so he was a bit surprised when I asked him to autograph it for me. That calculator just became an even more treasured keepsake.

For those of us in drag racing, especially those who were around during the 1960-1980s, the name Rifchin had the same ring as Firestone and Goodyear.

RIP Marvin, and thanks for the memories.

Henry Walther



I don't think any of us can adequately convey what this one man single-handedly contributed to drag racing. He was in a class by himself.

Marvin had a long life, but this one tough to accept.

Vaya con Dios mi amigo.

Steve Gibbs



I will miss that man dearly. He and Ernie were pioneers in tire development. I was very fortunate to be around both of them as they were good friends of my father. One of my favorite stories was told by Marvin. It was about a time in 1960/61 where he remembers taking this young 18 yr old kid & Jack Chrisman out on the town in Boston. One of the stops included a "gentlemans club" and how he had to sneak this young kid into the place. That 18 yr old kid was my father. I had the pleasure of working closely with Marvin the last couple of years with all of the tire issues we have had in N/TF. One of the toughest decisions I have had to make while tuning the HighSpeed car was changing tire manufacturers. Marvin completely understood and in fact gave me his blessing as he told me "I don't blame you, right now it is a better tire". That was Marvin. Straight-up honest. I can say I am a better person for knowing him. RIP my friend.

Brett Johansen

Marv with the High Speed Motorsports NTF car sporting his tires.



In the late 50's Marvin had never even been to a drag race but was building recaps for modifieds and midgets. He got a call to go down to Chester SC. He dragged a few sets of crash course slicks with him. Setto, Gar and Sullivan were there and Setto had blown a tire. Up comes Marvin with his tires and Setto was the lucky guy first on them. His pass resulted in a run 10 miles an hour faster then he had ever run before. Gar sidles over and begs a pair then out running both Sullivan and Setto. The originals were 7" but a soft compound unlike the Bruces of the day. He already had a reputation on the local circle tracks going back to the depression era with the likes of Ralph Moody etc, but now he was in drag racing for good. He knocked on every rubber and tire mfg's doors with little success not knowing how to build a tire from the beads out, he and is father Harry were recappers. They eventually got Denman Tire to build what he thought they needed and that lasted about 20 years.

His personal genius created an evolution in drag race tire technology. He was a friend to every racer no matter what their standing and gave away an uncountable number of tires, "only money" he said. Of course he being the tinkerer, every weekend a new tire came out but this was how he learned. He also was the supplier of hightech Bonneville tires to Mickey Thompson tire co. He was a tireless traveler to as many meets as possible, but not just the drags, he was attending local circle tracks the same weekends. However drag racing became his main focus. Production never exceeded more than 100 a day, his was a niche market never intending to compete volume wise with the major race tire suppliers.

His shop was quite unimpressive but the hallways were lined with pictures of every known racer, and dusty trophies, his office was a cluttered non descript place of business, it was a tire shop office! He once admitted to being a bit volatile, we never saw it, but his pet peeve was under inflated slicks. I once heard him tell a crewman to "put more air in the damn tire, I'll make it stick" He also claimed that he never made special tires for anyone, they all got the same tires. "The friendships have given me more satisfaction than anything else" A peach of a man who is already missed.

Jeff Howe



There are not to many people in my life that I have really been honored to know like Marv and his dad. There was no BS with either of them they told it like it was and they treated just about every body the same. My association with M&H started in 1965 with the first fuel funny car on the east coast and it had a TorqueMaster in it and Marv worked with me and Charlie Greer many times. Then with Bill Fluer and Sarge Arciero on our 426 Krazy Elephant top fueler. Then I had the luck to team up with Jim Fox when we owned the Frantic Ford funny car for years. We would race 4 nights a week drop the tires off at the Philly airport and send them back for Marv to look at and on Thurs night we would go back to the air freight and pick up 2 sets of new and balanced tires to try. There was always M&H on our car and Jim, Dodger and I could never have done it with out his help. He helped many of racers just for a smile and thank you. I have lost many but Marv's picture will always be in my thoughts and on my desk. We owe him so much. Thanks Marv.

Fred Frey - Frantic Ford Racing




The first time I met Marvin and Harry was with my Dad searching for cheap recap snow tires. Somehow my Dad and I ended up in Watertown, Mass one November as I recall following a lead from a neighbor. You could bring your worn tires to them and instead of getting someone elses junk carcass you could bring in your matching tires to what was on the rest of the car. They would recap them. They even had stock rims and even would store the snow tires when they put back your tires after the Winter. I remember looking at the pictures of the race cars on the walls and looking at the funny slick tread on the race tire, sharp at one corner and rounded on the other. My Father dealt with M&H until he died.

When I retuned to the East to run the fuel car I went to M&H to borrow some rims to get the right offset as the gas car was narrower and Marvin remembered me and rolled a couple of rims and tires. I remember his phone ringing and getting reports from all across the country from racers with race reports.

Naturally, I returned the rims and tires and preceded to buy some tires but Marvin told me to buy some 183 Goodyears as they were much better at the time. We were running at NED and Marvin rolled 2 of his new tires at us and his help with tires never quit even when he asked me to test his DOT street tires in the middle 80's and I even stocked them shipped from Ernie Hashim. As with all his tires the DOT tires were by far the best, I even ran them on my NHRA stocker as they were 11" wide..........
Years later, when we were running the Legends car, I didn't know what to do when going from a flat track to a banked one and called Marvin. His answer was "more stagga, Dickie". I still asked his advice with the midget, Marvin really liked the midgets, his knowledge was so extensive that even being away from it for years he was right on with his efforts to help us. Someone asked us where we heard that info and we replied Marvin from M&H an old timer standing there nodded his head and replied "he would know". I asked him to come to the "Night Before the 500" he said he would come but he didn't and I'm sure his health came into the picture but he got a race report. He was truly a gentleman of the first order and I will miss his tuneups..........Dick Gazan



I first got to know Marvin in the early 70’s when I was racing with Tim Beebe. Tim had been close to Marvin for many years before I came to know him. For me what stands out most is Marvin was a man of integrity and that is number one with me when I think about a mans legacy. Marvin was a good friend and we had many talks about much more than tires (of which he was a genius). I will miss him but I will not forget him. Rest in peace my friend.

Jim Murphy


Marv with Murphy crewman Michael Beebe. Even when Jim was testing the new Hoosier tires, Marv was there to offer help. That was just the kind of guy he was. And as a side note, after testing the Hoosiers, Murphy returned to the M&H brand and still runs them.



Marv has been at the races since I started going when I was little. I will never forget this great guy always putting so much effort into racing and giving people great tires! He always had a smile on his face and I could never be more honest to say he loved what he did, and he loved the people he did it with! He was always so smart at knowing what he was talking about and always giving his best. I will never forget the way he used to drive his golf cart up and down the Top Fuel pits at all the nostalgia races and inspect every ones tires. Which is a lot more than I could ever say for any other 94 year old man I knew. He was a great man who was impacted drag racing forever. I feel at ease knowing that I am sure hes in a better place, making some tires for all our other great racers we have lost, along with driving a golf cart, making sure everyone was happy!

I am honored to have known him. Gods speed Marv!!

-Cami Beck



During the 2004 Goodguys Nitro Nationals at Las Vegas the Nitro Thunder team threw Marv an 89th Birthday party. Marv quipped there was no place else he would rather be on this or any other day. He loved the drag races.



More of Marv at 89



Over the last 10 years it was Marv's mission in life to make a better, safer and faster tire for the very popular Nostalgia Top Fuel class. He went to his grave with this thought on his mind.





Marv with John Hashim who will carry on the M&H tradition.



Marvin Rifchin - 2002 CHRR Grand Marshall
(from the 2002 California Hot Rod Reunion Program)


The distinction of being named the grand marshal of the California Hot Rod Reunion is reserved for those whose contributions to me world of hot rodding reflect a lifetime of hard work, dedication, and passion.

This year's selection, Marvin Rifchin, founder of the fabled M&H Tire Co., more than meets this stringent criterion. Not only was Rifchin responsible for some of drag racing's most memorable performances through the excellence of his products, but he also was a valuable friend to many racers through his generosity and willingness to help. It's impossible to measure Rifchin's impact on the sport in tangible terms.

Said Reunion Director Greg Sharp, "Marvin Rifchin was not only one of the most influential aftermarket manufacturers in hot rod-ding history, but he was also a mentor and father figure to many drag racing teams, And countless other competitors benefited from Marvin's generosity, whether in the form of a free pair of slicks or a little bit of help with traveling expenses. Few individuals within the sport better exemplify the spirit of the CHRR than Marvin, and we are indeed very proud to have him as this year's grand marshal."

Said Rifchin, "I was astounded and flabbergasted when 1 received the news. I don't know if I deserve it but it's a helluva honor. I was at Bakersfield for the first Reunion [in 1992] and got to lake a ride down the track in Louie Senter's car. That was a fun event, and I'm sure that I'll enjoy this year's Reunion, too.

"I think that a lot of the racers who helped us set so many of tie records over the years deserve some attention as well. Don Garlits was my first test driver, and over the years we had Don Prudhomme, Tom McEwen, James Warren, and many others, They were really very good at relating what happened after a ran and telling us what we needed to know to further our development,"

When asked why he helped so many racers with free tires and other forms of assistance, Rifchin said, The way I looked at it was that not everybody had a buck, but they $ wanted to race and have some fun. If I could help them out in any way, I was just glad to do it"

Rifchin worked for his father Harry's tire business in his early years and later took over the operation, which became known as M&H Tire Co. {for Marvin and Harry). Rifchin was invited to a drag race in Chester, S.C., by friend Bob Oslecki in 1957. Drag racers w"re using recapped tires at the time, but Rifchin brought with him six sets of new tires that he made just prior to the trip. Garlits was one of the first racers to use them at the event, and he was so impressed with the new tires that he quickly became a test driver for Rifchin.

M&H dominated drag racing through the early 1960s, but when Goodyear entered the drag racing market in 1964, many thought that the corporate giant would knock Rifchin's small operation out of business. But M&H actually thrived with the added competition. Garlits recorded the first officially recognized 200-mph run in Great Meadows, NY, on M&H tires, and a major design change in 1967 bettered Funny Car performance from 7.90 elapsed times to a .7.60 at the 1967 Nationals.

M&H continued to be a major power in the Top Fuel and Funny Car ranks until the mid-1980s, when Rifchin timed his attention to DOT tires for the fast-growing Street Legal ranks.

Reaction to Rifchin's selection as the CHRR grand marshal was extremely positive throughout the drag racing community. WHRA founder Wally Parks said, "Marvin was one of the most valuable contributors to drag racing with M&H Tire, He was also an individual who we could go to for his opinion and get a straight answer. [Former NHRA Vice President] Jack Hart and I relied a lot on his input in the early days. Marvin was 100 percent dedicated to drag racing and was genuinely appreciated by the racers. If anyone is deserving of this type of recognition, it's certainly Marvin Rifchin."

Ernie Hashim, the West Coast distributor for M&H for years and the grand marshal at the Inaugural CHRR in 1992, said, "I'm so glad to see Marv getting this honor. He did so much for drag racing, and he sure helped my business considerably. His tires were so much better than those recaps, which were so heavy and like a tub. The M&Hs were really refined and the first to be designed and constructed for drag racing."


The following story was written in 1975 by John Durbin for an unidentified publication. Reading it, so much could be true right up to the end for Marv. Here is another look at the man who was the definition of "where the rubber meets the road".


...always there when racing needed him


To many onlookers Marvin Rifchin is "that guy from back east who builds racing tires." But to many of the rest of us, he is one of the finest gentlemen to walk the face of the earth. In the story that follows, we hope to give you a better insight into what makes Marv Rifchin tick. To begin with, Marvin is the "M" of M&H Tire Co. of Watertown, Mass. - a small 10-man operation that builds all sorts of racing tires. But it didn't start out that way. In fact M&H really got into the racing business in a rather unusual manner.

M&H Tire Initially entered the racing game over thirty years ago, shortly after V-J Day. In fact, World War II was indirectly the major reason M & H recast their molds towards racing. What with the U.S. industrial efforts directed towards the military, it was small wonder that those with racing needs were far down the priority list with the giant tire manufacturers. The biggest cries for help in those 'synthetic rubber' days ware issued by the midget racers. Their dilemma was the micro-size inner tubes which were next to impossible to find in those war years. So, relenting to the pleadings, Marv Rifchin entered the racing business.

M&H's first venture was fabricating the inner tubes for the midgets. This was done by cutting 16" passenger tubes and heat-splicing to fit the 12" midget wheel. Naturally the word was quick to spread that M & H was in the racing business. Besieged by calls from dirt trackers, asphalt cars, Bonneville racers, the M&H racing interests became full time. Then came the calls for something better than the post-war re-caps which left quite a bit to be desired. And most of these calls were from a new sport in its Infancy - drag racing. So, in late 1957 the first "pure" drag tire was conceived and a skinny kid from Florida who was scorching the Fosdick timers at over 170 MPH was among the first to replace the re-cap slicks with the pure-bred, molded "M&H Dragsters." The result is history. M&H and that kid who was to be drag racing's "Big Daddy" have made a paralleled rise to the top of their respective fields.

Today M & H Tire Company not only manufactures conventional racing tires for circle track, Bonneville, dirt track, motorcycles, and drag racing, but along with Ernie Hashim, who along with his sons owns and operates Hashim Automotive in Bakersfield, utilizes a special process to produce sand-drag paddle tires from the ultra-wide M & H dragster and funny car tires. And, as if this were not enough, M&H has just I entered the performance-tire-for-the-street-wars. The street tires are not a re-hash of drag racing designs - they are a rugged casing with a special rubber compound which features a unique tread configuration. Early reports indicate a very heavy demand for the newest tire from M&H.

The respect for Marv Rifchin certainly goes beyond the cosmetic stage. It is nothing unusual to observe the M&H tent, at any major event, and find Marvin socializing with the team drivers from the Goodyear and Firestone camps. And while this is not startling in itself, much of what goes on in those tire-side chats is very unusual, for instance on more than one occasion he has advised his own team drivers to "put on a set of Brand X, as my tire just isn't working here," - proving that with Marv, compassion comes before selfishness. Another illustration of this was at the initial NHRA Spring Nationals at Bristol, Tennessee. One of the top Goodyear team drivers - Connie Kalitta (now head mechanic for Shirley Muldowney) was having problems keeping front tires on his SOHC Ford powered AA/Fueler. At that particular moment the Goodyear camp was unable to solve the problem. A perfect opportunity, you say, for M&H to see one of their toughest competitors relegated to the sidelines. However, such was not the case then or would it be today - as Marv Rifchin is simply not made of that kind of stuff. He handled that problem for Kalitta and has helped his competitors hundreds of times since.

And while Marvin is a compassionate individual he is also very competitive at heart. This was probably never illustrated better than during the late sixties when Goodyear held the upper hand in the battle of the drag tire manufacturers. Although Goodyear had the "tire" and the big bucks, Marv Rifchin had the heart. Against almost impossible odds, he fought back and turned the battle completely around, regaining the super traction superiority. Today, M&H retains an advantage in nearly every category. Although the gap narrows from time to time, it is a constant dog fight, providing the classic - small individual businessman vs. giant billion dollar, Multi-national Corporation. Undoubtedly, this is why Marvin's closest friends and associates confide that he will never retire from the racing tire business. Further illustration of this prophecy lies in the fact that his father (Harry Rifchin, the "H" of M&H) still remains an active force in the business, although now in his 80's.

Racers such as: Don "the Snake" Prudhomme, Don "Big Daddy" Garlits, Tom "the Mongoose" McEwen, "Kansas John" Wiebe and hundreds more would go to battle for Marv Rifchin regardless of the team they represent at a particular time. And, then there are a few racers such as Warren-Coburn which have never vacated the M&H camp. Even during the days when M&Hs "weren't working," Warren-Coburn stuck with Marvin and at several events were the only name top fuel entry to rely on M&Hs. Needless to say, such loyalty is not lightly received.

In addition to respect from the racers and racing industry, he is well thought of by his employees. In fact most of them are long term relationships of nearly twenty years or more. Take for example, Frank Zuppa, the general manager of M&H Tire. Frank has been with M & H for over 30 years. And, the working relationship between Marv and his western warehouse - Hashim Automotive in Bakersfield - dates back more than 25 years. This speaks well of the employer-employee relationship when one thinks of how vigorous and back-breaking the tire business really is.

Add to this Marv's 35 year marriage to his lovely wife Ann, and one quickly gets a picture of stability.

And while we aren't intending to be critical of anyone in particular, we sincerely believe drag racing is long overdue in paying homage to Marvin Rifchin - if anyone ever deserved being, drag racing's "Man of the Year", it is he - many times over, We are the first to admit that this story falls far short of proper recognition but, we offer a belated hats off to Marvin Rifchin for making motorsports a whole lot better for all of us.



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