The motorsports world has lost a friend and icon with the October 16 passing of Richard Maskin, a highly respected innovator, engine builder and racer whose accolades included being inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame and a Lifetime Achievement award from NHRA.
He first achieved national prominence in 1970 with a ’68 Camaro called the “Mouse Pack” that was the small block answer to the big block powered “Rat Pack” entry of fellow Detroit area racers Wally Booth and Dick Arons. Maskin won several important races as a driver, but opted to focus on the mechanical side in future endeavors. He campaigned several AMC Pro Stockers, the most noteworthy of which was the “Hornet X” driven by Dave Kanners and employed numerous innovations. A few decades later Maskin came to dominate the Pro Stock class as an engine builder/crew chief and won multiple NHRA World Championships with Jim Yates and Jeg Coughlin, Jr. behind the wheel.
Maskin is perhaps best known for his many engineering contributions to Dart Machinery, the high performance cylinder head and engine block manufacturing company he founded in 1981. An early success was the industry-first “Dart II” high performance cast iron replacement head for the small block Chevy, as well as aluminum heads for the fabled Chrysler Hemi engine. Dart heads were employed by Kenny Bernstein to eclipse drag racing’s 300 mph barrier. Dart’s exploits with the big block Chevy engine lead to the development of the record-setting “Big Chief” cylinder heads. Many other innovations were to follow.
The company has expanded substantially over the years, with engine blocks becoming an important part of the business. Various configurations of both cast iron and aluminum blocks are offered for Bowtie SBC, BBC and LS applications, plus small block Ford. This year a Chrysler Gen III Hemi block joined the ranks.
In 2018 Dart became part of the Race Winning Brands family, with a dedicated cadre of employees carrying forth his visions and quest for excellence. After his passing, veteran Dart teammate Kyle Scheel said, “While he will no longer be with us to see all of his ideas through, all of us at Dart want to maintain his legacy and continue to move the company he founded forward into the future as a leader in the performance industry.”
Bob Bruegging, CEO Race Winning Brands, stated “What a life he had – doing it “his way” for 50+ years!! Competitor, innovator, friend, family man…he will be truly missed.”
Rest in peace, “Big M.”
Our condolences go out to the Maskin family and friends. From all of at RPM Magazine, Rest in Peace Richard. Your contributions will always be remembered.