After a successful season in 2019, Rick Burbridge is one of several drivers returning to Flamboro Speedway, ready to chase both the track and Grisdale Triple Crown Championship.
“Our primary goal for 2020 is to finish all the races,” he told SHORT TRACK MUSINGS. “Keeping all four wheels on the car each week is key to surviving the season on a fairly limited budget. Secondary goals would be to try to win two or more weekly features and to finish top-five in each of the Grisdale Triple Crown races.”
In addition to his home track endeavors, Burbridge stated that depending on the team’s budget they may add a couple APC races at Flamboro and Sunset (Speedway) “if we’re running well and have some extra money in the bank account.”
The APC Series has became the bench mark for much of the province, with consistent high counts, which has ultimately helped home track programs including Flamboro.
“They’ve helped align the rules for weekly racing at Flamboro, Delaware and Sauble,” Burbridge commented. “A lot of guys in APC are building new cars every year or two which is creating a really good market for used cars for anyone who wants to go weekly racing and is looking for good equipment at a decent price.
“Closer to home at Flamboro, they’ve done a great job with some improvements to the facility, running a tight show each week, having a strong purse and limiting costs with the tire inventory rule, so they are doing a lot of good things to attract more racers to their weekly Late Model program.”
“Looking back on 2019, the first thought that comes to mind is disappointment because of how the last race went – qualifying outside pole and leading a few laps in the final Triple Crown race but then falling out early due to a flat tire,” Burbridge admitted. “But big picture, the season was a success. We came into the year looking to finish all the races and get win. We picked up a win in July and finished 17 of 19 races in the top ten, with 13 top-fives. All of that lead to a second-place points finish, which was a great result for the year.”
For Burbridge, he has been around racing his entire life as his dad raced weekly at Flamboro, before moving into the Super Late Models through the mid 1990s.
“So like any kid who’s dad races, he’s your hero and you want to be just like him,” he commented. “But I played competitive hockey and baseball right up through high school and was just a pair of helping hands with racing stuff for my dad and then my older brother once he started racing.
“When I was in university my mom bought my dad a half-built Super Stock for his 50th birthday, which we slowly put together over a couple of years with plans to split the driving 50/50. When we finally finished the car, dad told me he wanted me to drive it full-time, and suddenly I was a race car driver, so that’s how it all started for me.”
Through the past couple years, Burbridge has solidified himself as a solid contender in Pro Late Model competition, with his most memorable moment being his first career APC top-five finish at Sunset Speedway a few years ago.
“We were real underdogs in that series in terms of equipment, budget, size of team, you name it,” he reflected. “But on that day we took a car that qualified about second to last in the field and somehow passed about 15 cars in 100 laps to end up in fifth at the end of the day. I don’t think anybody saw that coming. Then we went back to Sunset again later that year and basically repeated the story, coming from the back of the field to finish fourth, so those were a couple of great days.”
Based on the experience that he has been able to gain through the years, he offers the advice to those interested to hang around people that know what they’re doing around a race car, and soak up as much knowledge as possible.
“I believe to really get the most satisfaction out of racing, you have to be hands on with your own equipment,” he commented. “I had the benefit of growing up around my dad and older brother who could build a car from scratch before I even understood what half the parts were.
“Second would be to be patient, because the learning curve in the seat is steep. I think a lot of young kids do the iRacing thing these days and get in a real car expecting to be a hero on day one, but its a different world on a real race track and you have to be patient with your progress. It took me four years to win my first race in a Super Stock, but once we did win, we won a lot of races in a couple of years before moving up to Late Models. And in Late Models it took us six years to get a win and be championship contenders…so patience is a virtue.
“Finally, I’d say you are never too old to start. You see a lot of kids getting into cars at 13 or 14 these days, but I never ran a race until I was 21, and here I am in my 30’s still loving every minute of it.”