SCCA champion Maxwell "Max" Lagod passed away Saturday following a battle with lymphoma. He was 41.
Known in SCCA circles as "Mad Max," Lagod was a two-time SCCA National Champion in GT-1 (1996-1997) and recorded 75 SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series starts. Spending most of his Trans-Am career in an era of Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge factory-backed teams, Lagod and his father Jerry fielded their own privateer effort, first with a Chevrolet Camaro, and later a Corvette.
In addition to winning his second-consecutive Runoffs in 1997 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lagod enjoyed his best season of Trans-Am competition, recording an 11th-place finish in the final standings and closing the season with a second-place finish at the Reno Grand Prix, his first series podium finish. He later scored another podium finish, had six top-fives and 29 top-10s in his career.
"Max and I were fiercely competitive with one another," fellow GT-1 champion, Trans-Am competitor and SCCA Inc. and Pro Board Member Michael Lewis said. "He was the one guy I always wanted to beat. If nothing else went right on a race weekend, as long as I beat Max, I had something. I think he may have felt similarly. But there was always respect. I think the thing that drove he and I was that we were both club guys who graduated to Trans-Am and we both wanted to be top dog. Over the past couple years, the fire had cooled and Max and I developed a rapport. I will miss Mad Max on the track and in the paddock. He was a true racer's racer."
"If the saying, 'It is not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game that matters' is true, and I believe it is, then Max Lagod is in the record books," four-time Trans-Am Champion Tommy Kendall said. "He attacked the sport with a passion and commitment that is rare, but even rarer was the humility, generosity and good nature that he carried alongside his work ethic. My heart goes out to Jerry and the rest of his family who are likely as proud as they are sad today."
Lagod is survived by his partner Jennifer Brennan, his parents Jerry and Linda Lagod, a brother and a sister.
Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday, March 16 from 3 to 9 p.m. at Davenport Family Funeral Home, 149 W. Main Street, Barrington, IL 60010. Funeral Service is scheduled for Thursday, March 17 at 11 a.m. at St. Anne Catholic Church, 120 N. Ela Street, Barrington, IL 60010. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 651 W. Washington Blvd, #400, Chicago, IL 60661.
The SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Series will recognize Lagod with a moment of silence prior to this Friday's opening round at Sebring International Raceway.