Heaven has gained a beautiful soul, and Earth is the poorer. Don Pike was an exceptional man. Humble when he had the right to boast, oblivious of his physical gifts and without doubt a man loved by many.
His life began in Denver, Colorado, in 1929, but the next 88 years took him on many adventures. What he was passionate about he excelled in. He was a professional race car driver in the 60’s and 70’s, with an amazing record. He was one of a handful of original employees of Carroll Shelby’s, at the birth of the Cobra till the end. Carroll was an influential person in Don’s life, providing him with his first race car, his beloved Falcon, for $1.00. When Elvis wanted to use Cobras for the film, “Viva Las Vegas”, Carroll sent Don to drive. That’s how his second career started.
Don became a respected stuntman, stunt coordinator and second-unit Director, from his first film in 1964, to “Walker, Texas Ranger”, in 2001. He specialized in stunt driving and performed countless impressive stunts. He said he had to do the very opposite of what was required in racing. He had to purposely get into accidents.
But the most meaningful part of his life was his family. His mother Peggy and father Leroy began Don’s adventures. At one time they all lived in a tent in the mountains of Colorado, panned for gold and hunted for their food. He had an unbelievable start to life.
Wife Leslie and he were together for 40 years, and they shared a remarkable love story. Daughter Lorna was the light of his life. Don’s son Donnie passed away at 23, but he was loved for the whole of Don’s life as much as any child could be. His brother, Gary, preceded him in death, but they were together as a team throughout most of Don’s life. Son-in-law Greg was a special man as a friend as well as a family member. And he cared for his father in law so beautifully the last year of Don’s life. Grandchildren Aaron, Brandon (Nuchanat), and Brittany were loved from the day they were born. Great-grandchildren, Bradley and Braydon provided proof of Don’s legacy.
Don’s in-laws, Earl and Emile Gonzales, sister-in-law Cathy Ross (Tomas), niece Lara Petterson (Dale), nephew John Ross (Tara), great nephew Blake, great niece and godchild Morgan, and great nephew Trevor, all to the person were cherished and loved by Don, and loved well in return.
His friends were too many to list, except to say Eric Norris was his best friend and he loved him and the decades of memories they made.
In the end, Don was a survivor of the sorrows, and a fighter for the things he cherished. He didn’t want to say goodbye to his wonderful, one of a kind life. He will be greatly missed by all whose privilege it was to know him.
Services are private.
Don Pike’s Competition Record
During the years that he raced, Don Pike amassed an amazing record. In 1964 he campaigned a Falcon in A/Sedan, entering 12 races and winning 11 of them. The other was a DNF. In 1965 he won all 18 of the races he entered. Ford did not want to see his Falcon beating their new Mustangs, so prior to the 1966 season. Shelby was told to find a buyer for the car outside if the country. Pike got a new Shelby-built Group 2 Mustang. In 1966 he entered the car in 20 races and won 17 of them (one 8th place and two DNF’s).
He drove a 1967 Shelby Group II Mustang (car #19) owned by James Hilton. He finished 1st in two races, 5th in one and failed to finish once.
In 1968 Pike raced a Porsche 911 sponsored by Kendon Porsche. In 16 races he finished first 16 times. He also raced a 904 Porsche for Otto Zipper, finishing first in all of the 16 races he entered. He raced a Porsche 910 or 906 for Otto Zipper, with 14 firsts in 16 starts. The other two were second place finishes.
In 1969 Pike drove a 911 Porsche for Vasek Polak in three Trans-Am races, finishing second twice and fourth once. He also drove a Porsche 904 for Polak and won 17 out of 18 races. The other was a second place finish.
Pike switched to a BMW 2002 for 1970, driving for Gregory Racing Team in the Under 2-liter class. He entered eight races, qualifying in the top 10 of all of them. He had one 2nd, one 8th, four DNF/engine failures and two crashed. He continued racing to 2002 for Gregory Racing in the 1971 Trans-Am season, qualifying in the top ten in all seven races entered. He had two 2nds, one 4th, one 5th, and three DNF’s due to engine failure. In 1971 he also drove the BF Goodrich Pontiac “Tire-bird” in the 24 hours of Daytona (DNF) and the 12 hours of Sebring (DNF).
After retiring from racing at the end of the 1971 season, Pike was asked to drive the last two races in the 1977 Cam-Am series in a Porsche Mirage. He finished 5th at Riverside and 6th at Sears Point.
from The Shelby American magazine, Winter 2013