In memoriam: Brett Buzz Dawson

BuzzNASA-in memoriam

It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the loss of one of our own. Buzz Dawson came from Florida and quickly became a part of our NorCal86 Family. He joined us for many meets, drives, and laughs.  Driving his car was not his whole life, but it was through that, that many of us had the honor to spend time with him. You left us too soon Buzz, we miss you already. 



Here’s his car when he first moved from Florida.



Buzz (on left) lining up for his first track day at a rainy and wet Thunderhill Raceway in Winter 2013. Note his new “LOL PWR” license plate for California.



Buzz’s car leading the pack on one of our recent mountain drives.

Buzz was a great deal of things to many people.  He was a loving husband, a highly intelligent engineer, a wildly creative designer and animator.  He previously worked for NASA, gave live science demonstrations, built robots for competition, appeared on TV shows, and taught classes in computer animation.  He was incredibly approachable and friendly at the car meets and at the racetrack.  So many stories have surfaced about what a caring and helpful guy he was and how he has personally touched so many of us.  He tried valiantly to get many of us to join him in playing so many of the card and board games that he loved.  On a personal note, I loved talking with him at some of the meets and dinners about building trebuchets, catapults, and driving simulators.  I regret never getting the chance to play a round of Cards Against Humanity (a game he mentioned) with him.  But I heard from several other club members that they had a hilarious night playing it together at one of the South Bay meets that I missed out on.

Those of you who frequent FT86Club’s forums will no doubt recognize Buzz’s image from the science center flyer below, that was his forum avatar.



It’s impossible to mention everything that Buzz had done in his life in such a short post, but hopefully this gives you a glimpse into what a wonderful and imaginative person Buzz was.  The world was a better place while he was with us, and now it’s a little bit worse without him.

Buzz leaves behind his loving wife Alexia, who a few of us had the honor of meeting as well at some of the car meets.

For more info about Buzz you can visit some of Buzz’s former project sites:


We’ve started a thread in memory of Buzz over on FT86Club — to read more about how he touched some of our lives and to share some of your memories, please visit here:

Please come back later for more news about planned memorial activities for Buzz — we will probably have a memorial drive along Hwy 9 (one of Buzz’s favorite driving roads).


Rest in Peace, Buzz — We miss you.


Update 8/10/14: The Memorial drive will take place Saturday, Sept. 20. Please check back for exact times and route later.

Posted in Announcement, Feature Story
16 comments on “In memoriam: Brett Buzz Dawson
  1. Sandy says:

    We Miss you Buzz. <3 S

  2. Doris Fletcher says:

    Brett is going to be truly missed by his family.
    We are just trying to make sense of this.
    Prayers are for all that knew him.
    Very smart man.

  3. Betty Dawson says:

    Brett my sweet sweet son how I already miss so much my heart is breaking so much.I wish we had been closer. Rest in peace I will see you in heaven.


  4. Betty Dawson says:

    Brett my sweet sweet son I am missing you so much my heart is breaking. We are all shock over this.Rest in peace. we will see you in heaven


  5. Betty Dawson says:

    My sweet sweet son my heart is broken. I was so shock to hear about you. I wish we had stayed in touch more. I am going
    to miss you. Rest in peace. See you in Heaven


  6. Your family loved you and will always miss you.
    You are at peace God bless all .

  7. Dominic Dublikar says:

    I took classes with Brett for a year at full sail and I never could of asked for a better friend and teacher to help me and be that force in my life that got myself and at least 20 other friends of his through those classes. Always giving and never asking for anything in return. You were the closest thing to a genius I’ll ever know. You made school more than just exciting for me and all your friends you made there. You made it an experience. I never thought this day would come. I always thought you’d build yourself a robot body to live out of or be the first bionic man and live forever! God knows you probably could have. I only wish to of spent more time being your friend. Now your time has come to rest with the angels in Heaven, and My love and sympathies go out to your family.


  8. I had the privilege of getting to build robots with Buzz. He was a great mind and a great friend. Always smiling and larger than life. He will be missed terribly.

    Here is a video of him on Battlebots for thode of you who never got to see.

  9. Bunny says:

    I never had the privilege of meeting Buzz in person, but he was infamous in the robot community even after he left the sport. Many things were held to the standards he set, he inspired everyone to achieve more. Him and his team were a large reason I got into engineering in the first place, and they continue to make a large impact on my life. While he is gone, he lives on in everyone who’s life he improved by making sure things were done beyond everyone’s wildest imagination. My deepest condolences to the family and friends.

  10. Pris says:

    So very sorry to hear this. I had the privilege of working with him at the Science Center. What an amazing, funny , smart, warm and caring guy. My deepest sympathies to his lovely wife, family, friends and all those whose lives he touched.

  11. Anthony Bagsby says:

    I am teacher at Full Sail University.
    I knew Buzz first as a Student and then as a Colleague. Buzz was a great guy. We all loved working with him. There are many sad faces among the faculty at Full Sail this week. Our hearts go out to Buzz’s friends and family. We know that Buzz had made a difference in many peoples lives over the years; at NASA, in Battle Bots, the orlando Science Center, with us here as educators at Full Sail, and then out in San Francisco. Buzz we miss you.

    I know there are many out here in Orlando and at Full Sail that would like to be involved in Buzz’s memorial. Please keep us in the loop.

  12. Nevada Williford says:

    I played online games with Buzz and Alexia for several years and had the privilege of meeting them in person when they traveled through Tennessee on vacation a couple of years ago.

    When you spend as much time on voice chat while playing games together as we did you get to know one another. Over the years we chatted about the latest thing he was building, his time at Full Sail, moving to California and a ton of other stuff as well.

    Buzz went out of his way to make others happy. He was smart, funny, considerate, and damn good at whatever he decided to pursue. He inspired me to try harder and be better than I thought I could be.

    I’ve shed some tears since learning of his passing. There is a heaviness in my heart that will pass with time. But what will not pass is the fond memories of when our paths crossed. I will hold on to the fun times and the laughter we shared together.

    In the end Buzz Dawson was not just someone I played games with for a few years. Buzz was my friend and I will miss him very much.

  13. Alexia Dawson says:

    Thank you, everyone. Buzz never believed he was important to so many people. It is wonderful for me to see such an outpouring of love. He earned it.

    • Brett Nelms says:

      Well he was the only other Brett around growing up so I had an affinity towards him. He was always the good guy and nice towards everyone. Im so sorry this had to happen to the Dawson family. He will truly be missed so we cherish the moments we had with him and look forward to seeing him in heaven. God Bless.
      If we can help with anything here in the Dallas area please let us know.

  14. David Calkins says:

    I was a close friend of Brett for many years on the robot side of the fence. We will also be doing a eulogy and send-off of Buzz late on the 20th.

    We would be honored if you all would join us at the end of your drive. The ceremony will start around 7:00pm at the shore between Lower and Upper Crystal springs reservoir on Hwy 35 just off the 280/92 junction. Please email me for details.

    We will be sending a portion of Buzz’s ashes off in accordance with his wishes that evening.

    • Our sweet Brett my nephew and his mothers first born how our hearts are broken. You are in Gods arms in peace. Your mind and heart was not in the right place.
      Moving from Florida to California was a bad move for you. You would probably still be alive if you
      We’re still in Florida.
      You touched so many lives. You were almost a genius.
      He loved his wife with his life. I hope she will send his Mom something of her sons to hang on to. My sisters heart is crushed and will take a long time to get over the death of her son.
      We all loved Brett and will miss you until we see you in heaven one day. You are in the most beautiful place ever.
      Your memorial service is coming soon on September 20 2014.
      My dear Brett you are at peace.