The following interview with Rick, conducted by Dave Zortman, is as appeared in The Vintage Racer.
DZ: How did you get started in your racing career?
Rick: Well, when I was 16, I was in drag racing. We had a club, the Maryland Timing Association, which ran the first legal drag strip in the state of Maryland, which was in fact Frederick Municipal Airport. And, on Saturdays we'd put up snow fence, then on Sunday we'd take them down... every week. <laughs> That got kinda old. Then we had the Procopio Brothers build Aquasco Speedway, which I think is now called Bud's Creek... I'm not sure. I was the starter there, as well as I ran a 1940 Mercury with an Olds engine, in C Gas.
You know, in those days things use to break. You use to shear axel keys and blow your transmissions, stuff like that. We had these 25 and 26 tooth Lincoln Zepher transmissions, you could get them in the junkyards in those days. In any case, that was down in southern Maryland and on our way back, we would always pass Marlboro Speedway, which is roughly at the intersection of Route 3 and Route 4. Not too many knew about Marlboro Speedway in Maryland, but a lot of people knew about it in Europe. We had some really big name drivers at that time come in, like Sterling Moss, Jackie Stewart, people like that.
One day, after a day of racing, that is drag racing, I was coming back and it was raining. The rain was coming through the seals of the windshield. <laughs> I'm looking over on the right side... there these guys are having this race. I noticed that they could floor those cars and nothing would ever happen... no transmissions blown, no engines blowing. I got sort of interested in that. Early on, the President of the Maryland Timing Association was a guy named Guy Fowke, who drove an MGA. He got away from drag racing and went to this other kind of sport, that we sorta like... we would get out of our car, off the running board and step on these little cars. We didn't have too much respect for sporty car people.
I asked him about it and he needed a mechanic, so that's how I got sort of like involved in sports car racing. And then, we were written up as having the world's fastest MG. At the time, he won a lot of nationals. He had a hard time describing what was wrong with the car, so I decided I would go to driver's school... in those days you only had to go to one school and you'd get your novice license. I would go through school, get a license, then I could drive his car. Then I could find out what was wrong with it and prepare it better. Well, that bad part was... well, I rented this MGA from a friend of mine... a guy named Jim Quigley <laughs>, for $25. It had 4 brand new Michelin tires on it. It was a 1500 MGA, and I went through school in that car for $25. At the end, they would put umm, all classes, all in one big glob and have one race.
Well, I happened to win the race. So, immediately I was sponsored! People wanted to sponsor me, which was basically unheard of in those days. So that's how I got involved... and the next thing I know, I'm running against the very car that I tuned. I bought a Porsche Speedster, a '58 Porsche Speedster that crashed, flipped, blown up and caught on fire. I got it for almost nothing. I put it all back together, and that's the car that I raced. I got sponsorship... people started giving me big brakes and different gearing, tires and things like that, from a guy who fist sponsored me. His name was Big Bill Thomas. Big Bill Thomas was, at one time he was the head of the NASCAR Oldsmobile racing team, when they ran on the north track, before Daytona was even built. He had a partnership with a guy named Bill Terrell, who owned Metropolitan Imports in Baltimore. So, they got me all thisstuff. That was my first sponsorship.
Here I am, running against the very car I'm tuning, and I'm beating it. Everybody was saying I detuned his car so I could beat him, so, that went by the wayside. I started driving my own car. That was the only car I ever owned, by the way. I remember I had a Racer Brown 22A cam in it and it was a faulty cam. The cam broke in half, which broke my motor. That was the only engine that ever blew up in all the years of my racing... ever! If you ever got a reputation of blowing motors, blowing transmissions and being hard on something, you wouldn't be driving for anybody very long. That's the way that was in those days. Basically, it was unheard of that people had drivers drive for them. So, that was the start of it all.
DZ: Do you remember when and where you saw your first race?
Rick: Yeah... it was down at Marlboro. Funny thing was, I wasn't a driver yet and I saw this guy... they had what they called Formula Junior, in those days, which was a... a Junior, or small car, like a midget is to a sprint car, a junior was to a Formula 1 car. Actually, I think the size of the motor was 1100 cc, Fiat motor and a 600 Fiat rear end, but it had that front engine, rear wheel driven Formula 1 look. I remember the guy coming out of the bowl at Marlboro. The bowl was really an oval for stock cars. They added on the sporty car track, which then totaled about I think, 1.7 miles in length. But, I remember him coming out of the bowl and then there was this little "S" turn with a barbed wire fence and the guy didn't make it. He slid under that fence and almost cut his head off...almost did. He didn't. I said I would never... that was all there was for me. I would never drive... <laughs>
Strangely enough, later on in years I was running a Formula Vee, which is Volkswagen powered, 40 or 50 horse power, you had certain specifications. I also helped a fellow who was a very big wheel in the Triumph Motorcycle Corporation, which was based in Timonium. So, I was a sort of a racing technical consultant for the Triumph Corporation, you could say. And, Gary Nixon was the national champion in 1967. In 1967, I helped on his motorcycle. Well, before we went down to Daytona, we rented the Marlboro race track, that is the Triumph Corporation did, because he couldn't believe that my time was faster in a Volkswagen than his 500 cc Triumph, tricked out race bike. But, it was, only because we had more tires, of course, and we could go through the turns faster, even though they could out accelerate us in the straightaway.
Later on, Nixon decided... you know, he was starting to wind down his career and he wanted to maybe drive sports cars. So, at that time there was a Lucas slide injected BRM ex-Formula 1 car that this guy was going to sponsor me... wanted me to drive. He was a rich fellow. <laughs> So, Nixon was gonna come down and maybe take a couple laps, see if he liked cars. Nixon arrived, just as this guy was warming up his car. Again, came out of the bowl. Now, instead of a barbed wire fence, they had a huge dirt mound. He crashed the car right on the dirt mound and broke the car in half, right in front of Nixon. The Gary decided he wasn't going to go car racing. He said a motorcycle... you can walk off a motorcycle. But, I did let him drive the Formula Vee around and he was just putting around. But, that was okay. He felt like he was in a coffin and he just didn't want to drive it. There's a lot of little stories like that. <laughs>
DZ: How many types of racing did you compete in?
Rick: Well, you know... I did drag racing early on, until I found there were turns in the road. Then I did sports car racing and... normally, its the other way around, you know...you went into the stock car racing first, or something else before getting into sports car racing. Very few people ever went from sports car racing, then all of a sudden from asphalt they went to dirt track. But, with the help of Bucky Guilfoy, Ray Cable and Johnny Roberts, they all sort of took me under their wing and telling me "Don't tell anybody you're a sports car driver." <laughs>
They guy who owned Lincoln Speedway at that time, his name was Hilly Rife. Hilly was a sports car kind of a fan. He had a Jaguar one time, he had a Corvette... he had run that car at Lincoln, right up against the wall... I mean he really enjoyed it. He actually wanted me to come up there too, see what I could do... you know, a sports car driver. I ran a couple different cars up there.
I ran for a guy named Tim Harvey. Tim use to build his engines out of an old chicken coupe kind of a thing. His father owned a farm. He had two people drive for him at the time. One was me, I had the smaller engine... I had a 289 in a Comet, I believe it was, #5 and #55 was Kenny Slaybaugh. Kenny use to drive for him and on the same night, he'd drive the sprints or super modifieds.
DZ: Before you started racing, who were your favorite drivers?
Rick: I actually didn't have any. I really sort of met my favorites, because they were friends of mine. It just happens they were some of the very best drivers in the country. One was Dick Thompson, another was Ed Lowther. You know, there were a lot of fast drivers, but these guys I felt were rather exceptional.
DZ: Who were your biggest influences early in your career?
Rick: I actually didn't have any. I really didn't. I loved to drive and was fortunate enough to drive the best. When it was a money race, I would always turn the money back over to the sponsors, or whoever owned the car, so that I could get to drive better and better cars. I worked for the state, which was my security factor, in case I got hurt. There were times I couldn't even been able to afford the gas that went into those cars, some of the exotic cars that I've driven.
DZ: Who were some of the guys you raced against?
Rick: Well, when we ran endurance races, for instance, we ran... I don't remember, Sir somebody or another from England, who was the Formula 2 champion at that time. And certainly, Jackie Stewart stands out... because the guy that I use to race for later, Heyser of Heyser Cycle in Baltimore, MD, bought Stewart's Can Am car, the L&M car and the Kenworth tractor trailer... everything! He bought it lock, stock and barrel and went Can Am racing.
There's just a lot of big names. The biggest names, whether the names were big or not, the people who I thought were the very best drivers were Dick Thompson... and Ed Lowther.
DZ: Who were some of the more talented car builders/mechanics of your during those days?
Rick: The car builders... one, of course, we had the Lola franchise. That is Tom Heyser, Heyser Cycle, we had what they called Mid Atlantic Lola. Through my name in racing at the time, we met Carl Haus. Haus was the Hewland (transmissions, rears, etc.) distributor, as well as the Lola distributor for the entire country. When Paul Newman got involved in racing, that was like a hookup between Newman-Haus, eventually.
Of course, Eric Broadly was the designer of the Lolas. With that in mind, he fortunately is the same size I am, so it was pretty easy for me to have a factory car, as it were, for my size. It would be helpful in those days if you were Italian, 5' 4", with a size 8 shoe. My shoe is a 13... I can cover all three pedals at once. It was very difficult, actually. You had to concentrate not to hit the wrong pedal, especially when you're, you know, in the heat of running.
DZ: Who do you think were the most underrated drivers your ran against?
Rick: There were a lot of good drivers that were underrated, simply because of their machinery. They didn't drive good machinery. That's the reason why I gave up all my money. I wanted to drive good machinery. But umm, there were just a lot of really talented drivers... Carson Baird, for one. He could really drive and never had really top machinery. Even though he did do well, he could have done better. That's really hard to answer, to be honest with you.
DZ: What tracks did you compete at:
Rick: I generally competed on the east coast, primarily. In fact, at one time they use to nickname me "Regional Rick". <laughs> But, people played hell running against me, or people like me, on my local tracks that I was very familiar with. Especially like Jackie Stewart, coming over from England. It was very tough for them to do well against the locals.
When we ran the Lola Ford, we ran up at Lime Rock. At that time, the track record was never under a minute. We broke that just with a Formula Ford, because of the excellent handling characteristics. I was running Formula Vee's at the time and then I, of course, graduated to Formula Ford at the same... the same year I was running Vee's, I was running Formula Fords. It was like night and day. It's like running a no suspension go-kart verses a very technical suspension kind of a thing.
But, to name some of the tracks... Thompson, Lime Rock, Bridgehampton, Marlboro. Mid-Ohio, which was a very interesting track. It had hell of a lot of turns and it had one negative camber, left hand turn that you were actually in the air and had to correct in the air. With a rear engine car... it was a real thrill.
Thompson, Connecticut, a lot of people I knew were killed there. One was one of my students that was killed there. I was actually in bed, reading the sports page on a Sunday. I read where he was killed going into the bowl. Thompson's another track that was an oval, asphalt oval, New England type track that got stretched into a sports car track as well. So, it was a double deal there.
Vineland, NJ, Virginia International Raceway, VIR, which is now redone and people run in vintage cars and motorcycle races again. I use to call that one the high speed dangerous one and Marlboro the low speed dangerous track. If you could drive either one of those tracks well, you could drive any track in the country well.
Watkins Glen was the easiest track there was. Truly easy, only it was a high power track. If you had a strong car, you'd win. A lot of times, I didn't have a very fast car, or 6th fastest, whatever, but I could usually win because of the handling... you know, because they were smaller tracks. But, that was a long-winded track, and that was before they shortened it up. You know, like the NASCAR guys, they got through that little "S" there (inner loop). That use to be a flat out turn. I mean, God knows how fast we were going, but it was fast. You never shut off. There was a guy named Bud Foust that was a good driver, a big name. He was killed up there, one year when we were up there, ran into the trees about 160 mph. Trees don't bend, so...
DZ: Which dirt tracks did you race at?
Rick: Well, actually there were just four. <laughs> Let me think. It was Williams Grove, Friday night. Saturday night, Lincoln. Sunday, Susquehanna, umm... Dorsey. Yeah, four. I didn't run Dorsey very much. It was kinda a little tighter than I enjoyed.
DZ: Which track do you think was your best or favorite track?
Rick: My favorite track, I guess, was Marlboro. They always said if you could run Marlboro well... You know, most of the national champions, that had the money to go national, the champions were from the DC region, which is a 4 state area. Marlboro was their home track. It was extremely tough track to drive. It certainly wouldn't pass any of what you'd call the safety standards set today, because if you made a mistake, you were into a tree, or a river. <laughs> It's that simple.
One other favorite was VIR and my third favorite was Mid-Ohio. Those were real driver tracks. The rest of them were kind of simple... for me. Lime Rock was another one. It's a little tricky, but one or two laps and you could beat the local boys. <laughs>
DZ: Which track was your worst or least favorite?
Rick: The least favorite track? Hmm... Well, I'm not so sure there was a least favorite track. I just enjoyed the competition and enjoyed just doing it.
DZ: What was the most memorable or proudest moment of your career?
Rick: Hmm... <laughs> I don't know! Never thought about it. I guess when we won the 12-hour endurance race. I was a heavy driver. I drove eight of the 12 hours with a guy named Gene Hobbs, in what they classified a production car. E production, at that. It's a lot slower than A production, B production or C production. Of course, they had slower cars than E production as well. They had F and G production. But, it was unheard of that a production car ever won a 12-hour... never before and never since has a production car won the 12-hours. Normally, the hybrid cars, you know, the Porsche 917's... you know, we even had a turbine, Comet turbine, that Ed Lowther drove, at one time. He ran into a wall at Daytona and cracked a vertebra in his neck, that he didn't even know that he cracked, until like 30 years later when they (doctors) said, "You broke your neck, you know." <laughs> But umm, yeah I guess... that was really something.
DZ: What was the most disappointing or hardest moment of your career?
Rick: I guess that was really early on. When that Racer Brown 22A broke in half and I thought that was the end of my racing career, period. I didn't have any money. The engine was blown... and there was a guy who was in a formula car at Marlboro and he umm... he came out of the bowl, and when you came out of the bowl at Marlboro, the car wants to jump a couple of feet sideways. He wasn't quite use to that and he crashed, knocked the nose of the car and his legs were there and he broke both his legs. So, he decided he was going to run production after that. He bought my shell, in other words my Porsche with no motor. And then I was without... I guess that was the low point. I didn't think I'd ever drive again.
DZ: What was the funniest moment of your career?
Rick: Well, my 3-year-old Volkswagen was 300 pounds heavier. The chassis had fractured during the race and I was running against a lot of, well, psuedo professionals. In other words, they were paid drivers in the latest cars, factory cars and I beat 'em. That was pretty funny, I thought. And not only that, we also ran against what they called Formula S, which was Saab powered, a more sophisticated car... beat them overall. It was just a funny deal. <laughs> It just really was.
DZ: Of all your competitors and associates (drivers, mechanics, etc), who were your closest friends?
Rick: Well strangely enough, it was the guys who took me under their wings and hid me from the stock car crowd. That was probably Bucky Guilfoy, Ray Kable and Johnny Roberts. I guess that would probably be the... of course I was always very friendly, and still am, with Tom Heyser. Umm... and a person I drove for, for a long time as well, owned 40 West Porsche Audi, Charles Gillette. He's into these vintage cars now.
In this type of racing, its pretty unique. I found the stock car people... the stock car people remember, no matter what... they remember. Sports car people, I don't know... it's a huge turnover, but stock car people, the followers that watch in the stands have incredible memories. I ran a sort of like a cheater type of thing. WBMD, which was a hillbilly station... guess that's not politically correct now days, but a hillbilly station for Baltimore in the '60's. They had what they called a disk jockey race, for the disk jockeys. WBMD hired me to run this disk jockey race and beat the disk jockeys because most of the people that went to the Dorsey Speedway listened WBMD. So, of course they wanted their boy to win. It was awful. They gave me an alcohol burner flathead, with grease slinging out of the axels and everything... <laughs> And umm... I think I lapped the 2nd place car on like the 8th lap and I was doing all I could do... the car was loading up, I was going as slow as I could possibly go, but the car was loading up... but, I was Bowling with my son, 20 years later and there was this guy in there who's father... it was his car and he remembered my name and everything! I just couldn't believe it. Still to this day, people remember different things and I wasn't very prominent in stock car racing by any stretch of the imagination. I was extremely prominent in sports cars, but stock cars? No.
DZ: If you could pick a list of the greatest drivers ever (including yourself) from any point in history, from any venue in racing, and could magically bring them through a time machine to compete together in a race, who would they be and why?
Rick: Well there certainly would be Dick Thompson, Ed Lowther, myself... <laughs>... this would be sports cars really, umm... I guess Jackie Stewart, Brian Redman... I might be mentioning names you never heard of.
DZ: Doesn't matter, its your race.
Rick: A guy named Ron Grable, Mark Donohue... geez! So many people... George Alderman... Jerry Titus, Bob Tulius would be another one. I'd have to really think about that one. That would be a hell of a race! I'll tell you that! <laughs hard>
DZ: What changes do you think could, or should be made in racing today that would improve the sport most?
Rick: The problem now is that its gotten so professional that people walk around with suitcases. In the early days, we use to hang around, maybe get a hamburger or something. Companionship with the drivers, you know, everybody... it's so sophisticated now. I'm glad I raced when I raced. Its a shame that people don't enjoy what we enjoyed before. That's probably the reason vintage racing, or vintage people, is so big nowadays. Nostalgia, the good times. I'm not so sure its the good times anymore. Its just money now. Money, money, money, money, money.
DZ: What advice would you give to a young man or woman who was thinking about starting a career in racing?
Rick: Don't put your own money in it. <laughs> Try to get sponsorship and always go in with the thought that you're not the greatest, but you do have a moving billboard. The most anybody can say to you is no.
DZ: When future generations find your name in the history books of racing, what is it about you and your racing career that you would most like to be remembered for?
Rick: Good grief! I don't know. I wasn't a dirty driver. I just got the job done. The only thing I was ever hard on was tires. <laughs> I'd have to ask the sponsors if it was okay if I smoked up the tires, because my style of driving isn't exactly what most people's are.
DZ: What was your style of driving?
Rick: Well, because of the absence really good brakes in the early years, in fact too small of brakes, I developed a dirt track style of driving. In other words, backing a car into the turn, scrubbing off the speed and giving me a proper angle of attack to come out of a turn, so I could be faster at the end of the straightaway, you know, for the next turn. But, that would be hard on the tires.
I was never hard on engines or transmissions. I didn't use the clutch as a gear. I didn't use up my car. The only thing I ever used was tires.
DZ: Any idea how many wins you had overall?
Rick: No. I know that I had 26 straight wins in Formula Vee. I don't think anyone's matched that. There was a minimum of 40 cars in each race. We were torn down like every other race for a while, until they got tired of tearing us down. They found out we were really legal. Normally, the people who were having us torn down were illegal. <laughs> You know how that goes. But, we just concentrated on driving hard.
DZ: I'm going to throw some names at you, so you can tell us your thoughts about them.
DZ: Let's start with Buck Guilfoy.
Rick: Nice guy! Good driver... I was running sports cars, then all of a sudden I'm on dirt. You know, umm... he passed me on a start one time and I learned a big lesson! <laughs> I didn't know exactly when to get the hammer down. <laughs> Bucky's just a good friend, good racer, good all round guy.
DZ: Ray Cable?
Rick: Just a real nice guy... got his engines from Holman & Moody. His wife was the ticket collector when you'd go into Lincoln Speedway. She was very nice.
DZ: Johnny Roberts?
Rick: He was just a great driver. He was killed at Lincoln. Sort of a freak kind of a thing.
DZ: Mark Donohue?
Rick: Mark was a Brown Graduate, had an engineering degree. He was a round faced kid. This guy, Dr. Ben Poster, he was a dentist who lived a block down from my mother's house. Ho sort of like took Mark in. Mark was doing okay, but he ran out of money. He sort of set up Archway Ford and he drove a 350 GT at first. Before that, he drove a couple cars. Not too many people know that he drove a Daimler. A Daimler didn't have any brakes. He built that motor down at Ben Poster's garage. Up at Reading, we were racing up there and he ended up on the back of a Porsche, he couldn't stop the car and that's what ended his career there, for a little while.
A fellow named Walt Hanston was a big driver for Cunningham in those days. He was also the test driver for the GT 40's and for Ford. When he was killed, Mark sort of took over his position, as it were. Penske had the opportunity to either be a businessman, or a racer, and decided to be a businessman. They teamed up and of course the rest is history.
DZ: Paul Newman?
Rick: Interesting guy. He came out of the hills when I was racing up at Lime Rock. He wanted to know about racing. He'd always been interested in racing. He had shorts on and a black and white striped shirt on, looked like a prison shirt, and we just got talking. Then he came down to Summit Point and went through school, got his license. If he'd started when he was 21, he probably be one of the very best drivers. He's by far the very best driver, as far as a movie star type driver. Dick Smothers was probably the worst. Steve McQueen wasn't too bad.
But, Paul was sort of a person you wouldn't think... he wasn't that kind of a showman, or anything. He just did his thing. When he did the movie Grand Prix, with James Garner, he surprised a lot of drivers, a lot of professional drivers... Formula 1 drivers. He did most of his own driving. Of course during the race, I think it was Chris Aimen that was really driving the Grand Prix's. He was a pretty good driver. But, Paul Newman by far was... is the best.
He didn't like people hovering over him for autographs, he was there to race. One time, a friend of mine had bought Ed Lowther's old Cobra. He had burned a piston, we had the engine apart, we were gonna fix it. We were trying to hide Newman, so we just flopped him over a fender and stuck his head in the engine bay and he fell asleep for a couple of hours. <laughs> Nobody bothered him.
Yeah, he's really interesting. He use to have these T-shirts, if you looked real close they had these little sexual orgies on them.
He was running his Datsun, Bob Sharp's Datsun, and he was sponsored by Pioneer ... radios. My car was close to his on the starting grid and when I climbed into my car, he had put a Pioneer sticker where the radio should be on my dash. I could see him laughing in my rear view mirror. It was kind of funny.
DZ: Jackie Stewart?
Rick: The guy was a safety conscious guy... overly safety conscious. In fact, since I belonged to the Marlboro... Washington, DC Region and I was helping out, as well as driving. He demanded that umm... he could not see the edge of the track at night time, for the 12-hour. So, here I am with a can of white paint and brush, painting the outside of the track, on the edges of the track so that Jackie Stewart could see the track. It didn't help him in the race.
DZ: Any other notable people from your career that come to mind?
There was a guy named Bob Johnson from the mid-west. He was a Cobra driver.
When I ran the Cobras, that was for Jim Sutter. We had early sponsorship... you were only allowed 200 square inches of sponsor space on your car. After we came back from Daytona one time, the car was just loaded with stickers. They never made us take them off.
Jim Sutter would get sponsorship... a little bit from Ford and a little bit from Autolite... and tire sponsorships. He was really... he taught me a lot about sponsorship. Jim Sutter was the guy who really catapulted my career. In fact, if it weren't for him... later on, that Mustang... I thought he'd sold that car to the guy I was driving for. As it turns out, that was just on loan, just so I would have a ride. He was a driver as well, but I could drive as fast as I wanted. There were certain driver's "sponsors", if you will, that they'll sponsor you as long as you didn't drive faster than them. That was kind of hard to contain... truly. Tom Heyser was another one. It wouldn't dent their ego. So, I had free reign, but there were times I didn't have free reign. Of course, those people we wont mention. <laughs>
Jim got us sponsorship from Hank Manley, Manley Speed Equipment. He gave us a tour of his facilities up in Pennsylvania and showed us how they made valves, which was really interesting. Each valve has three pieces, I didn't know that. There was a soft area, there was a hardened area where it rubbed the cam and umm... it was kind of interesting because Traco, everybody thought Traco valves were the greatest valves there were. These people set up all these motors and it turned out they weren't Traco valves, they were Manley valves. As time progressed, Manley's now involved in everything. Hank Manley now runs vintage sports cars. He has a Lotus 23 that he runs. Its kind of interesting how people still stay in the sport.
DZ: You also taught racing, didn't you?
Rick: I was the chief instructor for a number of years in the DC region, yeah. I really enjoyed that. I really enjoyed teaching.
DZ: Can you tell us a few of the more notable drivers who came through the school?
Rick: Well... Paul Newman, Bob Holbert's son, Bob Holbert Jr., he ran Porsches. He was killed in a DC-3. There was just a lot of people. This gal, Arlene Hiss, she tried to qualify for Indy, but couldn't. Janet Guthrie. Over the years, there have been tons and tons of super guys who had done very well.
I found that the females did better than the men, most of the time. Because, they were there to learn, where the men had this ego thing where they already knew how to drive... until you scared the hell out of them, then they'd realize. You didn't intentionally scare the hell out of them. But, when you go down the straight and then they think there's no way you can possibly slow down enough for that turn and they see the trees coming up... that gets their attention. I always told them, "If I'm instructing you, just do it my way. Then you develop your own style. Later on you can do it anyway you want. You're being graded on what I'm teaching you, so you'd better do it this way for the time being." I'd try to keep it safe... try to keep it fast. I use to go out on the track, actually, when they were running and point where I think they should hit the apex, which most people didn't do at that time. Now, apparently a lot of these driving schools do.
Bill Scott use to have a school. They use to have the Ferrari people come run on a weekend. I would help out there and get to drive all these exotic cars. And the Porsche people use to come out for a school. They all had their, what do you call them...lederhosen, or something like that. <laughs> That was kind of interesting.
DZ: Of all the cars you drove, which was your favorite?
Rick: I had a lot of favorites. Each one was, you know... a different personality. The 906 (Porsche), with the 917 short tail bodied car was probably one of my favorites, simply because I went very fast in it and I shouldn't have. It was really designed for a very small person and I had to lay down in the seat sideways. This was very difficult to drive because my foot would cover all 3 pedals, for one thing. It was very hot, no air got in there and all the hot oil ran through the tubes of the chassis. It was unbearable. Cockpit temperatures were about 165º. It had really high gears... it had LeMans gears and so I could only run two or three gears and yet broke the track record at Summit Point, in a minute and nine seconds. That was pretty damn quick in those days, on tires that were 3 years old, real hardened tires. They started doing the lower profile tires and the car would drag on the ground. We had to use the tires that were on it. I guess it was my favorite because I had to overcome so many things.
But, there were other favorites. The Lola Ford was really nice. I just enjoyed driving different cars.
DZ: Looking back... any regrets?
Rick: Nah... I'd do it the same way. I would have to do it the same way. I could never have gotten where I went had I not done it that way. I truly was one of the poorest drivers out there, financially, and I drove some of the very finest machines out there.
You run against people, like Mrs. Bowden, who is Dupont. You run against these type of people. There was this one time, they were backing this car out of this trailer... enclosed trailer, which in those days as almost unheard of, and it was a birdcage Maserati. In those days, that cost $20,000. I said, "My God... $20,000! My house didn't cost that." I was just flabbergasted somebody would put that much money in a car. The person next to me said, "What's $20,000 when you got a million?" That put in proper perspective.
They had the Roosevelt Racing Team, they had a car carrier, like the car carriers of today. They had 6 racecars on there. Six Fiats, those little special things. I never drove one of them. But, they would fly. This is who we were running against. There was a President's Cup race. The President wasn't there, but Gen. Curtis LeMay was, who actually ran for the presidency a little bit later. He was the head of the Air Force at that time. It was a big deal. And umm, you know, I raced against Dick Thompson... Bob Holbert Sr., and this new upstart, Penske. The birdcage Maserati was driven by a guy named Gaston Andre. It was a hell of a race. But those were the type pf people in those days and I was 21 years old. <laughs>
When I was a kid in Utah, I was 12 & 13 years old, I was reading in... I think it was called Auto Magazine. On the front cover was these Cunningham cars, white with a blue stripe. Briggs Cunningham... Next thing I know, I'm a little older and I met Briggs Cunningham. He gave me my first ride in an XKE Jaguar. He was an importer for them and at VIR, he drove me around in that car. It was the first one to ever come to this country. It wasn't a race car, but... And to think, when I was just a few years younger, I was seeing his cars when he was running at Lemans and all that. And of course, Carroll Shelby picked up his color scheme on his cars. When I won that national at Marlboro in the Cobra, Carroll Shelby's advertisement mentioned my name and where it was. I mean, I heard about all these people and all of a sudden I was in the midst of it all. It was pretty overwhelming for a state worker. <laughs> To say the least! <laughs>