Legendary NASCAR car maker Tex Powell has taken his final drive to Heaven after a short battle with lung cancer.
Tex Powell was born on November 3, 1938, in Houston, TX to William Lane Powell and Pauline Allen Powell. He passed away peacefully at his home in New London, NC on Wednesday, November 1, 2023.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 35 years Marilyn McGriff Powell; sons Bill (Marlene) of San Antonio, TX and Mike (Sharon) of Asheboro, NC; bonus son John (Sarah) of Seabrook Island, SC; bonus daughter Lisa Wickham of Portland, OR; grandson Billy Powell (Sophia); brother Paul; brother-in-law Doug McGriff (Pam); sister-in-law Debbie Bown (Chuck); brother-in-law Hershel McGriff, Jr. (Shelly); sister-in-law Gina Stallard (Paul); father-in-law Hershel McGriff (Sherrie); and numerous grandchildren, nieces, nephews, family and friends.
As long as he can remember, Tex was interested in cars and motor racing. He went to high school with Marlene Foyt. He tried racing a few times at a local track but kept being beaten by this other kid (Marlene’s brother AJ). Tex decided he should be a mechanic/engineer, rather than a driver.
He eventually went to work for the Foyts as a fabricator with AJ as the driver. He moved to the Carolina’s in the early 1960’s working for such race teams as Bud Moore Engineering, Nichels-Goldsmith, Harry Rainier, LG DeWitt Copenhagen, Penske-Miller and Petty Enterprises working as mechanic, car chief, crew chief, and research and development leader. He has worked with racing drivers AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Rusty Wallace, Bobby Unser, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Lenny Pond, Benny Parsons, Dave Marcus, Terry Labonte, Harry Gant, John Andretti, his father-in-law Hershel McGriff, brother-in-law Chuck Bown, and many more.
Tex was quoted in Don Miller’s book, Millers’ Time-A Lifetime of Speed: “I’ve said for a long time that the three most important tools in racing are a hammer, a screwdriver and flat black paint. What’s the most universal tool? The Hammer. What’s the most beautiful color? Flat black. What cannot be used as a hammer? Nothing.” Don Miller’s thoughts on Tex: “Tex is one of the great unsung geniuses of NASCAR, especially when it comes to drivelines. Tex worked for years to improve the Borg-Warner T-10 Transmission, cut his own gears, started making casings and finally founded Tex Racing Enterprises making what became a standard transmission for the guys in NASCAR.”
Tex formed Tex Racing Enterprises in 1978 where his company designed, manufactured and assembled racing transmissions, rear-ends, clutches and complete driveline systems. They manufactured composite panels and polycarbonate windshields for the racing industry. Their focus was on the needs of NASCAR where there could be a development on Sunday and by noon Monday, they would have product changed to make it better.
Tex sold the company in 2000 but continued with the new ownership for three years. Tex feels that “NASCAR is more than a race every week. It caters to the fan. It’s a show. It’s motorsports entertainment. It’s always been that way.” Rex Garrett of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. says. “I’ve been in this sport my entire life, and I can’t think of anyone more dedicated to motorsports than Tex Powell. He’s truly a legend.”
Tex never lost his passion for speed on the racetrack.
Words of wisdom from the one and only Tex Powell: “Bargains should not be sought after in areas of parachute packing, fire extinguishing, brain surgery and driveline components.”
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Pugh Funeral Home in Asheboro is serving the family.