Famous for his full beard, spectacles, heavy foot and iconic No. 9 dirt-track Modified stock cars that were always towed on an open trailer by a station wagon that was loaded with tools and supplies, Bob McCreadie of Watertown, New York, was one of the true professional racers who gave all that he had to his occupation and in return he not only won a lot of races but developed a faithful and popular following among those in the grandstands.
There is also one more thing about McCreadie: everyone knows him by his nickname – “Barefoot Bob.” But while it is believed that he got this moniker many years back when the cockpit of his super-light and super-narrow Plymouth Barracuda was so tight that he couldn’t wedge his right foot past the transmission linkage to get it on the accelerator with his shoe on, McCreadie has said that he actually got the nickname as a teenager due to the fact that he spent a lot of his time in the summer running around bare-chested and shoeless.
McCreadie began racing as a 21-year-old in 1971. But it was in 1972 that he started using No. 9 as his identifier as he took his Small-Block Modified to the dirt and asphalt tracks in upstate New York and over into the Province of Ontario in Canada. Then, after having a great deal of success in SBM competition – he won 66 races during 1979-1980 – he began to run on Central New York’s highly-competitive Modified circuit.
In 1985, McCreadie put together the kind of season that saw him win the Super DIRT Series Championship and track titles at Canandaigua Speedway and at the Cayuga County Fair Speedway in Weedsport. Then, in 1986, he won Super DIRT Week’s main event – which was then 200 kilometers or 125 miles – on the one-mile New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
This major victory at Syracuse, however, would be the only time that he would win the sport’s most prestigious race. But he was always considered to be one of the favorites there and each time that he raced on the “Moody Mile” he showed why this was the case.
A competitor in the touring Super DIRT Series since it was instituted in 1976 by fellow EMPA Hall of Fame member Glenn Donnelly, McCreadie has 307 Big-Block Modified victories under that sanction alone and his total number of trips to Victory Lane plays out at 507.
McCreadie’s most successful year with his orange and white No. 9 was in 1994 when he won 43 DIRT Modified races; a one-season record. Plus, he won four 1994 track championships (Brewerton, Cayuga County, Canandaigua and Rolling Wheels), his second of three (1985, 1994 & 1995) Super DIRT Series Championships and the first of his two Mr. DIRT Modified Championships (1994 & 1995).
Considered to be the “Best Driver In DIRT History,” McCreadie has won 36 track championships and has posted victories at 56 different tracks. But that total does not just include speedways in North America as in the early 1990s he went to Australia during his off-season and won seven races there as well in that country’s just-slightly-different V8 Dirt Modifieds.
“Barefoot Bob” McCreadie broke his back five times in racing accident, but none of those incidents forced him to stop racing.
However, his legendary career did come to an end as the result of another type of accident – the kind that everyone is subject to each day.
On May 31, 2006, the consummate professional dirt-track Modified stock-car racer was on an errand to pick up a prescription when his Harley-Davidson Motorcycle was struck by a car that was traveling diagonally across the parking lot of the Medical Arts Building in Watertown and he suffered a broken bone in his back, broken ribs and a broken leg. It was these non-racing injuries that eventually resulted in the ending of an enviable racing career.