Richard “Dick” Flaig, widely considered one of the top race car drivers in Western New York history, died Sunday at his home in Clermont, Fla..
The 80-year-old Flaig had been in poor health in recent years. A family member said he died “peacefully” in his home under hospice care.
“He was my toughest competitor, and he was also one of my very best friends,” said Art Clark of West Seneca, the retired racer who was named last year to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. “Everyone thought we were rivals, which we were, but we were also friends. There was no one I’d rather go wheel-to-wheel with for 25 laps than Dick Flaig.”
Known for his bright orange cars bearing the number 33, Flaig was one of the top winners in the history of Holland Speedway, where he raced from the 1960s until 1989, when he retired after winning his fifth track championship. Dueling with Clark, the late Stroker McGurk and other top competitors, Flaig also won many races and titles at the old Perry Raceway. He also competed at tracks in North Collins, Angelica, Ransomville and elsewhere in Western New York and southern Ontario.
The FOAR Score club, made up of local racing fans, inducted Flaig into its Hall of Fame after his retirement. The club also named Flaig as one of the top 25 drivers in Western New York history in 2001. In 2012, Buffalo News racing columnist Larry Ott called Flaig one of the four top racers in Holland Speedway history. A native of Amherst who worked as a truck driver, Flaig moved to Florida in 2000.
“Dick did as much for the sport of racing as I did,” Clark said. “He was a true sportsman on the race track. He raced the way you are supposed to race.”
A memorial service will be held in the Buffalo area sometime in the future, a family member said.