The drag racing world lost one of its biggest fans and supporters on June 23, 2023, with the passing of NHRA team owner Cathi Maynard.
Maynard was a true champion in the greatest sense of the word, having courageously battled her multiple sclerosis diagnosis for over 35 years before succumbing to illness-related complications after a lengthy and arduous fight.
While still considered somewhat of a newcomer to the industry in an official capacity, there is no denying the incredible impact and lasting mark Maynard left on the NHRA community. It was no secret that she loved fast cars and high horsepower, and as an Army veteran, Maynard quickly adopted Tony Schumacher as her favorite race car driver. She was the driving force behind the Maynard family becoming involved in drag racing, first as sponsors in 2021 before forming JCM Racing during the 2022 season, and fans of ‘The Sarge’ can credit Maynard for his return to full-time competition after a multi-year hiatus from the sport.
“She was such a fighter, such an amazing person, and she’s in a better place,” said Schumacher. “It’s a privilege to have known her, and I would say, by far, I’m a better man for knowing her. She was so kind and so good to people. No one that met her left a lesser person.”
While drag racing was so close to her heart, that was only a small part of who Maynard was as a person. Joe and Cathi Maynard met while serving in the Army where she worked as a Military Police officer and a boat pilot. The Maynards are well-known throughout their town of Clarksville, Tenn., particularly via their involvement with Austin Peay State University (APSU).
Named the 2020 APSU Philanthropists of the Year, the Maynards have given tremendously to the school, and most recently were honored during a naming celebration of the Joe and Cathi Maynard Family Athletics Complex last October. A former athlete herself, Maynard was a fixture at home games and especially loved cheering on the APSU softball team, which plays at Cathi Maynard Park, thanks to her contributions to the school’s softball program.
Since becoming involved with NHRA drag racing, Maynard was able to marry two of her passions – fast cars and philanthropy. She was particularly passionate about A Soldier’s Child and American Mobility Project. The Maynard family has supported A Soldier’s Child since 2008, and are among the original contributors to the nonprofit which aims to serve the children of fallen military personnel. Since 2021, the Maynards have hosted Gold Star families at the dragstrip to enjoy a day at the races. In 2020, Maynard became involved with American Mobility Project, a nonprofit which provides mobility and adaptive equipment to those living with disabilities. As a recipient of an iBOT Personal Mobility Device, Maynard had a firsthand understanding of the importance such a device can make in one’s quality of life. She was constantly on a mission to raise dollars and awareness for the two organizations, and getting to close out the 2022 NHRA season by fielding A Soldier’s Child and American Mobility Project ‘giving cars’ at the final two events was the perfect way for the Maynards to cap off their first year of NHRA team ownership.
“We want to go out and make her proud this weekend,” added Schumacher. “I would love nothing more than to earn ourselves a trophy that we can send back to Clarksville in her honor. Our hearts go out to Joe, Joe C., and the whole family. Now, we just need to go out and win this race, and I know we’ve got an angel riding with us.”
Born in 1957, Maynard was 65 years old at the time of her passing. She is survived by her husband, Joe Maynard, sons Joe C. Maynard and Lucas Maynard, and three grandchildren, Joe, Shelby, and Haylee. As a veteran, Maynard will be laid to rest at the prestigious Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Va. A memorial service will be held at a time to be determined in Clarksville, Tenn.