I was just informed that Doug Nash died a few weeks ago. He was legend in the bat-shit insane drag racing world of the 1960s and later gave us the mysteriously awesome Doug Nash 4+3 transmission. I’ll pour one out for a great man tonight, a man who was truly one of us. A positive part of our community.
Below are the contents of the e-mail I received:
NASH, DOUGLAS EDWIN, January 19, 1942 to July 12, 2015 A name synonymous with winning Douglas Edwin Nash, a legend in the auto racing world—as much for his skill behind the wheel of a drag racing car as his later development of high performance transmissions—passed away at home in Marathon, Florida on Sunday, July 12th, his family, including his beloved companion and wife of 33 years, Lesli Diane, at his side. Doug was 73. A soft-spoken, contemplative drag racer in the 1960’s, Doug was driven to understand every aspect of what constituted a winning car. He first smoked the track with the “Bronco Buster” (a modified Ford truck) and later moved to a Comet, which brought him to the attention of the Lincoln Mercury Racing Division. In 1966, Doug was given a factory experimental Comet and continued to win races and perform at an outstanding level. His inventive mind led him to develop the industry’s first 4 and 5-speed racing transmissions with straight-cut spur gears and crash shifts. Doug’s engineering innovations were soon noticed by the General Motors Corporation, and he was awarded a contract to develop the 4-speed overdrive transmission used in the 1986 Corvette. Doug was born in Detroit, MI, on January 19, 1942, the first of three children of Walter, a Ford executive, and Thelma Nash. He attended Garden City High School, his love of cars and tinkering with engines already entrenched. After his need for drag racing passed, he founded Doug Nash Equipment and Engineering, Inc. He began the company as a small shop doing prototype engine work in Detroit, MI and went from modifying engines to redesigning transmissions from the ground up. He ultimately relocated the company to Brentwood, TN, where he remained in business until he retired, and the Nashes moved from Tennessee to the Cayman Islands. Whether dealing with Doug as a friend or in terms of his products, “He was known as just an all-around good guy!” Diane said, describing her mate as “the best husband, partner and friend anyone could have hoped for in their wildest dreams.” She heard it countless times, so did his brother Dan Nash. “Doug’s handshake or his word meant more than any contract a lawyer could put together.” That Doug’s former employees stayed in contact with him and remained friends long after he retired is a testament to his personality, loyalty and warmth. Classic animal lovers, the Nashes had two dachshunds: Lucie lived for 18 years; Suzie for 17, and Doug doted on both. He also loved vintage model trains and was an avid collector of pre-WWII Lionel Trains, American Flyers and the like. The couple also loved to travel and fish, activities that continued after they retired in the Cayman Islands. When the Nashes decided to move back to the states in 1992, they settled in the Florida Keys and started a boat rental business with Doug’s brother Dan and his wife Diane. Doug, who passed away after along and courageous fight with cancer, will be sorely missed by all who knew him, even by many who knew only of his automotive engineering genius. Doug is survived by his wife, Lesli Diane Nash of Marathon, FL; daughter Noelle Lynn Smith and granddaughters Violet Anne and Emmeline Rose Smith of Hendersonville, TN; brother, Daniel L. and wife Diane B. Nash of Belleville, MI; sister, Darlene K. Ebanks and husband Ron of Dacula, GA, and a niece and nephew. In his continuing quest to help and benefit others, Doug donated his body to science. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society or—due to his love of animals—to your local No-Kill Shelter. As per Doug’s wishes, there will be no memorial service.