Wade Rich admits there was nothing personal; he just needed a change in scenery.
A change is the reason Rich, a noted track prep specialist, says he left Orlando Speed World and returned to his original home of Bradenton Motorsports Park outside of Tampa, Fla.
“I’m coming back to the house that built me.,” Rich said.
Rich said he now has a more manageable workload, aimed at making him better at what he does best, ensuring a drag strip runs better.
“Honestly this pandemic thing woke me up,” Rich admitted. “I’m 47 years old, my youngest son is ten, and my career has always been a quantity thing. Lots of events, always running, always going, always moving. And I just got to the point where I didn’t have the help that was necessary to keep going the way that place needed to go.
“I thought it was a good time [to make the move] being we were going to be shut down until May, that would give [Ozzie] ample time to find somebody else or find multiple people, which he really needed to do, the keep up with the pace of that facility. I won’t ever say nothing bad about the man. I knew what he wanted when I signed on and it just, I guess it’s just a different, different aspect on life. I had to make the change what was best for me and my family.”
Rich said it didn’t take him long to realize his new gig has an approach he can get behind.
“Victor is more of a quality, not quantity type of deal, holding races, good quality races, what’s good for the spectator, the racers, good for us, good for his employees,” Rich explained. “He wants to get things done, but I only have to worry about one track now.
“He’s already got to put people in place for website. He’s already got people in place for handling marketing and stuff. So, it takes my job down quite a bit and takes a load off my shoulders. So I’ll have some time I can spend with the family. His schedule is nowhere near as busy as Orlando.”
Rich confirmed this year’s Lights Out event at South Georgia Motorsports Park would be his last Duck X Productions event for the foreseeable future.
“I won’t have to go and spend weeks on end away from my family,” Rich said. “I loved it, but I ain’t going to miss it. I’ll be honest with you.”
Rich said when he decided to head in a different direction, he never looked back, a trait he’s long kept.
“It wasn’t really nothing against anybody,” Rich explained. “It was just my mindset is changed, and that’s the type of guy I am, when I’m ready to drop something, be done with it, I drop it and am done with it. I’ve always been that way, and everybody’s known me that way. When I was done in Memphis, I was done. I packed my stuff up, and I left. I don’t know any other way to do things.”
Rich feels he’s more than paid his dues in a sport, he believes is as demanding as it can be.
“I’m not a racer. Never have been,” Rich said. “When I started in this business, I started picking up garbage, cleaning bathrooms, and my job hasn’t really changed a total, a lot. Yeah, I’ve learned how to do websites. I’ve learned how to do social media. I’ve learned how to do a lot of things to, a jack of all trades, master of none. But I don’t think people misunderestimate it; I just don’t think they understand the time expenditure in it.
“When you’re dealing with the public, and you’re answering the phone 14 hours a day and trying to get your work done on top of that, and trying to promote, and trying to social media, and you have to learn how to put your phone down to go have dinner with your family, and try to disconnect from it. And that’s why I’ve always lived an hour away from the race track so that I can get a lot of work done on the way home, so when I go home, I can focus on my wife.
“This is my third marriage. The first two, this business ruined. So I have a good woman at home, and I don’t want to screw that up again. She backs me on anything I do, but you can tell the wear and tear on her, especially when I get busy seasons, from October until April when I’m not even home, but just to sleep in the middle of the night and then go back.”
Rich adamantly declares, drag racing is tough on the family unit.
“Everybody in this aspect of the sport, even right now, it’s tough on everybody,” Rich explained. “Even a crew guy, a clutch guy, a tuner. I couldn’t imagine the cutthroat business being a tuner is and how much time you got to spend. So, I mean, anything in this sport I think is very trying, I don’t think any of it’s easy. I mean it’s not like you’re getting a return on your investment unless you’ve got a great sponsorship.
“But it’s an intriguing sport, but hell, we all love it for some reason. It’s the speed. It’s watching the underdogs win. Me, I like going to a race track and squeezing every bit of traction she’s possibly got out of her and watching people’s faces light up when they run their personal best. Going to the winner’s circle at the end of the night, and watching the people smiling and hooping and hollering, or just driving through the pits, having a good time. And that’s probably what I enjoy about it the most.”
And for Rich, this is the one aspect he will never need a break from.