IndyCar: Lee Brayton dead at 88

Lee E. Brayton, 88, of Coldwater, passed away April 30, 2022 at Maple Lawn Medical Care Facility.

A memorial service will be held Friday, May 6, 2022 at 3:00 PM at Dutcher Funeral Home in Coldwater with Pastor Mark Case officiating. The family will receive friends, prior to the service, beginning at 1:00 PM at Dutcher Funeral Home. Interment will take place at a later date at Oak Grove Cemetery.

Lee was born August 13, 1933 in Coldwater, MI to Everts W. & Mary A. (Anthony) Brayton. He married Helen Jean Weakley on September 6, 1953 at the United Methodist Church in Girard, MI. Lee achieved the rank of Captain in the US Army (National Guard); serving from 1951 to 1969 where he served as a shooting instructor.

Following his military career, Lee owned and operated many local businesses in the construction industry; Coldwater Concrete Products, Branch County Tank and Pre-Cast, Certified Transit Mix, Johncock-Brayton Redi-Mix, Certified Sand & Gravel, Brayton Engineering and GTS Transport.

Mr. Brayton was a member of the Coldwater Elks and Lions Clubs. He enjoyed the outdoors and hunting but one of his greatest passions was racing. Lee started racing in 1953 at Prairie River Speedway. His first major wins came at Butler Motor Speedway and in the early 1960’s he was the man to beat. Lee won season Championships at both Butler and Prairie River Speedways and set track records at both tracks. Lee joined the USAC Sprint Car Circuit in 1965 and set two track records, several top 10 finishes, but no victories. In 1970, Lee passed his rookie test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He tried 3 years but was never able to make the starting field of 33.

Lee competed in many Champ Car races from 1970-1975 and had three top ten finishes. Lee and his son Scott were inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1998. In 1998, Lee also accomplished his lifelong dream of winning the Indy 500; Brayton Engineering built the winning motor that year for driver Eddie Cheever. In 1994, Lee had a dream to build his own engine. It was a pushrod V-8 making over 900 horsepower. Unfortunately, even though the engine was built and tested; it was outlawed before it ever got on the track. Brayton Engineering built engines that set many track records at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Lee is survived by his wife Jean; his son Todd (Teri) Brayton of Coldwater; daughters-in-law Sally Brayton of Quincy, Becky (Robbie Buhl) Brayton of Westlake Ohio; his sister Joan Schafer of Coldwater; his grandchildren Spencer (Jackie) Brayton of Coldwater, Jason (Shannon) Brayton of Brook Park Ohio, Carly Brayton (Nate Draher) of Westlake, Ohio, Hunter Brayton of Belleville, Quinn Buhl of Westlake, OH and great grandchildren Bianca Hubbard and Stella Brayton. He was preceded in death by his sons Greg and Scott Brayton.

Memorials may be directed to The American Cancer Society or the Coldwater American Legion.

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