RPW Column: Desire To Win In Small Block Modifieds Has Rich Ricci III Excited For 2023 Season
NEW PALTZ, NY – It’s said that following in your father’s footsteps in any sport can be tough.
Add in following in your grandfather’s footsteps, and the pressure grows. Tack on your sister joining the party and you can understand exactly the drive that Rich Ricci III has to succeed in the sport of auto racing.
It’s also that drive that makes his desire to find victory lane in the Small Block Modified division ever more prevalent.
Ricci, whose grandfather, Rich Sr., dad, Rich Jr., his sister, Allison, and even his uncle, Mike, have all been successful in open wheel Modified competition and Rich III is keeping his family tradition on the right track.
He’s won in the Sportsman division. Now, he’s looking for that next step, and the fire burns to get the job done.
“I so want to get my first win in a Small Block this year,” Ricci said. “I’ve been so close in the past but haven’t been able to seal the deal. I hope we can do that this year.”
For 2023, it’s full-speed ahead for the third-generation driver, chasing that first career Small Block victory at the Accord Speedway and several events on the Hard Clay, the Orange County Fair Speedway.
“I’m really excited for this season,” he said. “Our plans are to run at Accord and some at Orange County. We’re also going to hit some other tracks so I can gain some more experience with different surfaces and conditions.”
Experience is key in this sport and Ricci has continued to get better with each lap he competes. However, it’s that push to find victory lane, and keep the family tradition going, that fuels the young racer from New Paltz, NY.
“I would like to keep what my family’s been able to accomplish alive,” he said. “I would love to be a champion. My dad has 11 at Accord and a couple at Lebanon Valley too so I’d love to win one for him. However, that starts with that first win.”
That desire to hold the checkered flag in victory lane is what has Ricci set on kill for this coming season. Piloting the infamous #406 that his family has run for generations, Ricci understands what number means, not only to his family, but to the race fans.
“When I started racing, everyone in the family told me to keep the number,” he said. “My dad, my uncle, and my grandfather told me to run it because the race fans liked seeing the number on track.”
Have fans reminisced with Ricci about that?
“All the time,” he said with a laugh. “Tons of fans have told me how much they love that a Ricci is still driving the 406. I hear all sorts of stories about races my family has run, and won with this number. Now, I want to do it proud.”
Still, it all starts with that first checkered flag. Ricci has dreams about what it would be like to pull into victory lane, but knows it takes hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck.
He’s up for the challenge and has never taken his eye off that vision.
“I think about what it would be like all the time,” he said. “Coming off of the last corner and seeing I’m the first to cross the finish line. It would be something I’d never forget.”
There’s another part of that vision he smiles about and can’t wait for.
“I would be so excited for my dad,” he said “I want to stand with him in victory lane, just so he knows how grateful I am that I was able to keep this going for our family. They all mean so much to me, but I’d love to be able to do this for my mom and my dad.”
Rich Ricci III knows EXACTLY what he wants this season, and it all starts with that first lap. He understands that to finish first you must first finish, so his plan is simple…run well.
First, you need to crawl. Then, you can walk and finally, then, you can run. He’s been improving with each lap on track and there’s few in the pit area that don’t believe the 406 won’t be in victory lane again.
Why couldn’t that be in 2023?
A Note From Rich In His Own Words…
“This year, we’re going to be running our 2018 DKM Cyclone Chassis, powered by a Precision Race Engine, with the help of ESF Transport, Dean C. Ale Excavating and Penzato Paving.
I wouldn’t be able to do this without the love and support of my family, friends and the crew. I really have to thank Mom (Kelli) and Dad, my Grandfather, my girlfriend Katie (Kortright) and my good buddy Jared (Bilyou). They all help to keep this car going, and keep me going. Without them, we couldn’t be doing this.
Now, let’s go get that checkered flag!”