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Bike racing supporter and mail order pioneer 'Crazy Dave' Watson dies at 82

Published August 27, 2018

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (BRAIN) — Dave "Crazy Dave" Watson, a cycling team founder, race official and mail order purveyor of European cycling gear, died Aug. 18 at age 82. 

In the early 1970s, Watson was a ski patroller in Vermont who took up cycling to stay in shape in the summer. His interest led him to launch "Crazy Dave's Racing Components."  He imported bike brands like Somec Air, Cinelli, Marinoni, Oschsner, Basso, Holdsworth, Bob Jackson, Redcay, Medici and Gios. He also sold hairnet helmets, tubular tires, wheelsets, framesets and hard-to-find racing components like Dura-Ace track rings, Modolo brakesets and Campagnolo groupsets.

In 1972, Watson founded the Fuji Cycling Team, which became one of the longest-running clubs in the U.S. under the tutelage of Tracy Lea. Watson individually sponsored riders such as Sue Novara Reber, Karen Bliss, Nancy Neely and others,  providing them with tires and components and helping them in their racing careers.

Bliss, now chief marketing office at ASE, the parent company of Fuji, knew Watson for more than 35 years, she told BRAIN on Monday.

"Dave stayed in touch with a few folks from the 70s and 80s when he was running his business. He was always a part of the Fuji Family and attended the Fuji party at the Philadelphia race every year until 2016 (the race's final year)," Bliss said. 

Watson was a USCF official for some of the classic races such as the Tour of Somerville, the Tour of Nutley, and the Rahway Criterium.

He grew up in Nutley, New Jersey. His parents, originally from Scotland, emigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s. He had an older sister and younger brother both of whom predeceased him. He was married for a short time in the 1970s to Patricia. He had no children.

After graduating from Nutley High School, where he played basketball and was captain of the golf team, he joined the National Guard. He was a squad leader and sharp shooter for nine years before he was honorably discharged. He received his New Jersey Underwriter's License and went on to a long career selling insurance for Prudential.

In 2003, Dave moved to Rehoboth Beach where he was active in the Presbyterian church and was generous with his time and financially to the Boys & Girls Club of Delaware. He died at his home due to numerous health issues. No memorial service is planned. 

Dave Watson.

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