John Thomas “J.T.” Lundy, who was the co-owner of NASCAR Cup Series team Ranier-Lundy and controversially oversaw horse racing powerhouse Calumet Farm in the 1980s, died Wednesday at the age of 82. According to his son Robert, he fell in November and hit his head, from which he never recovered.
Lundy purchased a fifty percent stake in Harry Ranier‘s Ranier Racing team in 1984, two years after he took over Calumet Farm from his in-laws. Calumet Farm, one of the most successful Thoroughbred stables in history with ten Kentucky Derby victories, sponsored IndyCar legend A.J. Foyt at the 1983 Indianapolis 500 and Foyt’s family also owned horses from the farm. Ranier, a coal magnate and fellow Kentucky native who founded Ranier Racing in 1967, also enjoyed horse racing and ran his own farm.
“We’ve had a good relation for years. J.T. lives just four miles from my home,” Ranier said in 1984. “When I asked if he wanted to get involved, he showed interest.”
The newly renamed Ranier-Lundy outfit won in Lundy’s maiden race as a co-owner at the 1984 Daytona 500 with Cale Yarborough, who also claimed the 1983 edition. Piloting the #28 Hardee’s car with Waddell Wilson as crew chief and manager, Yarborough won five times under the Ranier-Lundy banner. Davey Allison, a journeyman driver, was tapped to drive the #28 in 1987 and won twice that year. Despite Allison’s bright career prospects, Lundy left the team at season’s end.
Yarborough, Wilson, and Allison have since become NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees; Yarborough, a three-time Cup champion, passed away on Sunday. Ranier died in 1999, but his son Lorin continued the family’s presence in the sport by running a Truck Series team under the Ranier Racing name as well as a driver development programme for Chevrolet.
While Ranier-Lundy enjoyed success, Calumet Farm’s fortunes went in the opposite direction. Things came to a head in 1990 when their star horse Alydar broke his right hind leg in 1990 and was subsequently euthanised, sparking an investigation into the nature of his injury. Lundy resigned as president in 1991 and the farm was sold. He and the farm’s attorney Gary Matthews were convicted on bank fraud, bribery, and conspiracy related to Calumet in 2000 and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison; Lundy was released in January 2005. Calumet remains in operation today, winning two more Kentucky Derbies in 1991 and 2022.
His service will be at The Midway Cemetery in Midway, Kentucky, on Tuesday. Foyt will be among the honourary pallbearers.