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RIP - Johnny D - Thank you for everything
DRR / Crew
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I'll miss him, his view and his posts.


When we’re kids the idea of death is often a far-off concept we give little thought to, but as the years pass, and life becomes ever more precious as we’re surrounded by family and friends, our realities change. As much as we might try to deny it, we know that everyone’s days are numbered, so we strive to make each one of those days more meaningful, more fulfilling. That was my friend – no our friend John Di Bartolomeo.

Born July 21, 1953, John was a “Joisey” boy through his formative years and remained a Jerseyite through the early years of his marriage to Dottie Hadrava. For the last 19 years John, Dottie and Christina, lived in Beaver Springs, PA, literally a stone’s throw from the drag strip that originally bore the town’s name. While Franklin resides with his wife Jenny and son Evan in Huntersville, NC.

John D, for that was the name he was known by among his hundreds of friends, was a multi-faceted individual possessing an astonishing number of highly polished skills. He could take a solid block of aluminum and form it into a practical piece of racing hardware in the morning so it could be added to the constantly growing list of products marketed under the DRC Race Products banner, and still have time for more. He had choices. He could sit down at his computer and compose an easily understood yet highly technical article for one of the numerous enthusiast publications that prized his contributions, or he might roll up his sleeves and start working on one of the race cars that crowded his shop. But whatever task he decided to take on there were the interruptions he couldn’t avoid – the more or less constant dings announcing the arrival of yet another email, the texts overflowing his phone and, of course, the non-stop ringing of his phone. Everyone wanted a piece of John DiBartolomeo, from customers to fellow journalists to racers and racing officials, and the reasons were obvious to all of us who knew and loved him – he was there for us. As cliched as that might sound, John could easily switch from being an aftermarket manufacturer advising a potential customer about a product to a writer helping someone else compose a story. If that wasn’t enough he’d still have time to discuss proposed rules changes with another Sportsman racer, and when that racing official called John was always ready with succinct suggestions that probably should have been adopted wholesale.

If ever there was a misnomer it’s calling a successful drag racer like John D a “Sportsman.” It is, in some respects, somewhat dismissive, for anyone who follows the endeavor knows that winning a points race, much less an NHRA national event, takes more work, diligence and effort than anyone sitting in the grandstands can ever truly understand. John D won seven of those national events, a record this writer can’t fully fathom. Ironically, most of the races John won came on rainout Mondays, when the grandstands were empty and the media had long since disappeared. I’d tease John, saying I knew he was fabricating his victory story because no one had actually seen it happen. Then he’d email me a photo of he and Dottie holding the trophy.

John and I worked together at Drag Racing Action Magazine, with me being the editor and John being the all-important tech writer. Without his contributions the magazine wouldn’t have been as good as his contributions made it. His connections with the aftermarket industry meant that we had the latest information on the hottest new stuff. Of course John had to explain everything to me because my technical expertise was limited to being usually able to distinguish a race car from a school bus.

Then there was The Conversation. Every drag racer has had, continues to have, and will continue to have long into the future, The Conversation. That’s when two or more individuals start offering their personal plans for the salvation of drag racing. Even after John began his battle against cancer in late 2021 our phone calls would begin with an update on his condition and inevitably devolve into something else. More than once he’d interrupt to say, “Wait. Are we having The Conversation?” Not surprisingly, however, each and every time we talked John would bring up his family, everything from how things were going with Dottie’s job, Franklin’s new child and even Christina’s televised Cornhole competitions. Family meant everything to John.

When John replaced me as editor of the magazine he later told me that he thought it would change our relationship. It actually accomplished the opposite. When I was still covering the races John was the first person I sought out at the track because our conversations were always informative, educational and, most of all, pure fun. I will be but one of hundreds who will miss John in the coming days and years. All of us are better off for having known him. – Jon Asher
Posts: 1825 | Location: Gallatin, TN - U.S.A. | Registered: October 12, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Top Comp
Picture of Curly1
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RIP. Sad day.
"Our products are not designed for ED, they are designed for COMPETITIVE RACERS"
A Narcissist with Small Man Syndrome and he thinks he is a Winner.

4X NE2 CHAMPION. 2020 TDRA NE2 Champion
Posts: 3223 | Location: United States of Texas | Registered: April 02, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Sportsman
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Going to miss John D. He had tremendous insights on life and racing both through his Facebook Live videos, and his Blog posts.

There aren't many great things in this day in age. However with the technology we have today, John D's thoughts and experiences will live on! It is amazing that for years to come when we miss him, we can bring up an old video, and see what the old man would have to say about numerous subjects.

RIP - John D. You are still the man!
Posts: 642 | Location: UTD | Registered: September 25, 2019Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Sportsman
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RIP John
Posts: 327 | Location: observing the mayhem | Registered: December 22, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of TORQIN
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This man was a BIG part of our sport on and off the track! Godspeed John.
Posts: 1636 | Location: Houston, Tx. | Registered: November 27, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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RIP Johnny D, you will be sorely missed and thank you for all you have done for Drag Racing over the years!

Rob Robertson
Posts: 961 | Location: Welcome, MD | Registered: December 06, 1999Reply With QuoteReport This Post
DRR Elite
Picture of adv ET 266
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That’s sad news RIP John
I had know idea that we shared the exact same birthday.

2005 2000lb 4 link dragster
home brew 582 BBC Dart 355

Posts: 12112 | Location: 33463 | Registered: February 04, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post

DRR Top Comp
Picture of ChuckT
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John, before he passed, had posted Gary Stinnett filling in for him. Don O'Neal wrote this one, great read.

Don O'Neal "Incapable of filling in"

'81 Cutlass, KX05, Keystone Raceway Park
Millerstown Pic-A-Part, Tarentum, PA
Wholesale Transmission, New Kensington, PA
Thinking of Nikki and Mark - forever 53
Posts: 7174 | Location: Pittsburgh | Registered: December 07, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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