Robert David McCreadie, 52, Dies; 'Barefoot' Racer Was Superstar of Dirt Tracks

"Bob McCreadie, the chain-smoking, bushy-bearded dirt-track racing champion who grew up in upstate New York and earned the nickname ''Barefoot Bob'' for reasons having to do with both his shoeless childhood and the cramped race cars he piloted, died on Monday at his home in Antwerp, near Watertown, N.Y. He was 52.

The cause was lung cancer, said his son Tim, a racer himself.

Mr. McCreadie, a mechanic by trade, had racked up hundreds of victories on the dirt ovals of the northeastern United States since the 1970s. He had been known for an aggressive driving style, a relentless pursuit of victory, and an ability to think creatively, short-circuiting his car's engine to preserve its brakes as he tapered his speed in the turns.

In his autobiography, ''Barefoot'' (2005), he said that his success had rescued him from a life that might have ended in jail or death, and that ''if it wasn't for auto racing and for my wife, I'd probably be in jail today. Or shot dead by now.''

Mr. McCreadie was hospitalized last week, and his illness was disclosed in a posting on the website of the Bear Ridge Speedway, a dirt track in Bradford, Vt., where Mr. McCreadie was scheduled to race on Saturday.

Fans flooded the site with comments. ''Bob was one of the truly greatest racers ever,'' one commenter wrote. Another called him a ''legend,'' and a third said, ''That's dirt track racing folks!!!''

Mr. McCreadie's wife, Sandra, survived him, as did another son, Jordan; a daughter, Tyne McCreadie; a sister, Kathleen Woodard; a brother, Patrick McCreadie; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson. "

Read more