NHRA multi-nitro team co-owner Cathi Maynard, 65, has succumbed to multiple sclerosis, a disease that has been her scourge for many years.
Cathi and Joe Maynard were first spotted in the company of Mike Lewis of Don Schumacher Racing: a gentle man with a white beard, accompanying his wheelchair-bound wife as they watched NHRA eight-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher race his rail on 1,000-foot drag strips around the country. Content to bide their time at first, Joe and Cathi Maynard soon became hidebound members of the drag racing community.
First they took on sponsorship of Schumacher’s ride and were rewarded as the dragster star re-found his footing in the class he once dominated before losing his U.S. Army sponsorship that kept the team afloat in the Top Fuel category. They became Schumacher’s sponsors in 2021.
Then last year, in 2022 Cathi and Joe Maynard took over Schumacher’s ride, separating from the Don Schumacher Racing group and starting Maynard Family Racing. They brought SCAG power equipment into the sport as Tony Schumacher’s primary financial backer. Their reward? A win by Schumacher at Pacific Coast Raceways near Seattle in their first race as team owners.
After the 2022 season was over, Tim Wilkerson joined the Maynard Family Racing group when Cathi and Joe decided he was the right Funny Car racer for their increasing presence in NHRA Camping World drag racing. He rewarded them with a win in Chicago this past May, bringing victory to Maynard Wilkerson Racing.
It wasn’t enough: they affiliated with rising star Justin Ashley to form Maynard Ashley Racing during the same Chicago weekend. Ashley then won three races in a two-weekend period, earning the Epping and Bristol race victories, together with the Bristol edition of Mission Foods’ #2Fast2Tasty Challenge.
All of this team building didn’t happen in a vacuum. Cathi and Joe Maynard, both of them veterans (that’s how they met) have been methodical in letting their passion guide their racing business decisions. The duo – and their children – have never let Cathi’s multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis which has been omnipresent in their lives for more than 35 years, guide them. Even when she’s not been able to be at the track with her husband and children, Cathi Maynard’s presence could always be felt.
Unfortunately, Cathi Maynard’s multiple sclerosis defeated the 65-year-old on Friday of this past week, June 23rd, just as the family’s three teams alighted to Norwalk, Ohio for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at the Bader family’s track. Try as they might, neither Tony Schumacher, Tim Wilkerson nor Justin Ashley could bring Cathi’s memory a win this weekend, although Ashley came close, going to the Top Fuel finals. “Today, and for the rest of the season we will have our guardian angel, Cathi Maynard, riding with us,” Ashley said.
Learning of her passing, Tony Schumacher acknowledged, “She was such a fighter, such an amazing person, and she’s in a better place,” he said. “It’s a privilege to have known her and, I would say by far, I’m a better man for knowing her. She was so kind and so good to people. No one that met her left a lesser person.”
With her involvement in drag racing over these past few years, Cathi Maynard married two of her favorite passions: fast cars and philanthropy. The Maynard family has supported A Soldier’s Child since 2008 and are among the original supporters of the nonprofit that serves the children of fallen military personnel. Since joining NHRA in 2021, the Maynard family have hosted Gold Star families at drag strips around the country. To raise awareness, for the final two races of the 2022 NHRA season, at Las Vegas and Pomona, the Maynard family capped their first full season in the sport by fielding ‘giving cars’ for A Soldier’s Child and American Mobility Project.
Cathi Maynard is survived by her husband Joe, sons Joe C. and Lucas Maynard, together with three grandchildren: Joe, Shelby and Haylee. As a military veteran, Mrs. Maynard will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. A memorial service will be held in the family’s hometown, Clarksville, Tennessee at a time yet to be determined.