Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

James “Puppet” DiTullio Passes

Published on October 18, 2010 by   ·   15 Comments

One of the world’s most accomplished and skilled chassis builders, James “Puppet” DiTullio passed away today.

DiTullio succumbed after a long and hard-fought battle in the hospital for the past several weeks.

Puppet had been building dragbike frames since the 1970s, when a young Paul Gast went to his shop to get some welding done on his Kawasaki Pro Stock two-cycle.  Puppet would go on to build chassis for legendary riders such as Jim McClure, “Pizza” John Mafaro, Dave Schultz, Elmer Trett and the world’s quickest dragbike racer Larry “Spiderman” McBride.

“It is a great loss.  He was the best Top Fuel chassis builder in the world and a great man,” McBride said.  “I talked to him on the phone regularly.  He was hilarious. I will miss him.”

Utilizing the chassis Puppet built for him in 1994, McBride set the world record for a Top Fuel Motorcycle at 5.79 at 245 mph.

Considered an artist and a pioneer by his peers, Puppet will be greatly missed throughout the motorcycle drag racing community.

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Readers Comments (15)

  1. nitro steve says:

    rip puppet

  2. Larry Green says:

    Rest in Peace brother.

    • Paul Gardner says:

      Puppet. We were room mates in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Explored a lot of buffalo bars together. I watched Jim transform from family man to hippy overnight. What a fun guy he was. Puppet, John Oldfield and I spent a lot of time together in those years. Now that they are both gone I can only hope that someday we will be together in the “Open House” Restaurant on Delaware Ave again. Rest in Peace. Truly one of the original “characters” in my life.

  3. Kelly Trett Thomason says:

    Pup was a great man who I grew up with. He took time, talked to me, and even taught me to draw a few choice cartoons. He came down to our home one time, and stayed with us. At that time, he took time to show me how to weld on Daddy’s Tig Welder. He was an artist and a pioneer. The world will be a dimmer place without him, but Heaven will be a better place. I’m sure he’s enjoying his ‘new life’ up there with his ‘old’ friends….There are so many of them with him now.

  4. Paul Cuff says:

    Puppet was the finest cycle craftsman on the planet. I was proud to have raced one of his creations. Rest in Peace, Jim.

  5. Sandy Carlson says:

    Love you Pup, miss you like crazy.

    Twink aka weembagirl

  6. Jimmy Fox says:

    Gonna miss you Pup!
    God Speed, and say hi to Jim, Dave and Elmer for me.
    Cyalaterbye

  7. Clark Olson says:

    I met Puppet in the early 70’s. I gave him anold air brush and he immediately did some awesome graphics with it. We used to say he could weld wood. Great guy, true artist. Buffalo and the world lost a great one. RIP Puppet

  8. Grant says:

    It was an honor to know and work with Puppet. He will be missed more than words can do justice.

  9. poochie says:

    Super friend would help you to the end,told me about some of the trick’s to the came help me with my 86 1150e by the way I still have it,Freddie’s Boy’s turbo 1150e is still around also!I also owned Broadway Kawasaki’s blue turbo charged Z1R………..@ one time……We were riding back in the day Ball’s to Wall…..

  10. Jaimey Ditullio says:

    These are awesome!! Missin him bigtime

  11. David Hopkins says:

    I knew Puppet when he was known to all as Butch.The family home was @ Sandy Beach on Grand Island.Butch was a quiet kid,but you could tell there was a lot going on.Great that he is a respected person,he deserved it.A fine family.
    David

  12. Paul Grumsha says:

    I can remember riding up Hinman Ave almost any time of night, Jim would be silhouetted in the dark by sparks from his welder. He looked like a mad scientist creating a new monster for someone to ride. One of the coolest of the W.N.Y.area fabricators, no-one can replace him… R.I.P. Jim
    I really liked the comment about meeting at the Open House on Deleware. The old days




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