GREEN BAY, Wis–
“The first car that I actually went and got was out of a barn.”
And with that statement, the title of a book and a racing career were born. One that went from the backyard local tracks to the Brickyard in Indianapolis. Rich Bickle started racing at the age of 15, when nobody even bothered to ask him whether or not he had a drivers license, and since his father was already a local legend on the local track, getting behind the wheel was second nature to him.
“Most people think the races are won on the track, but they’re not, they are won in the shop. Just kind of old from there. Its Kind of a rags to riches story to a point. My mom and dad never had any money. I never had a nickel to my name, just the drive and determination.”
From the short tracks to the big ones like the Daytona 500, Bickle ran about as hard as any racer you will find and he’s completely unfiltered when it comes to every topic surrounding racing, including the state of Nascar today.
“Nowadays, all you do is buy your way in. I called them daddy‘s credit card racers. They don’t know a lug nut from a steering wheel but their daddy‘s got multi millions of dollars and that’s the only way they get a shot at it. The problem in NASCAR is that they control everything. They have done a great job of wrecking the sport as far as I’m concerned. They’ve made it too pricey for the average fan to go. Then the motels with a minimum four nights and things like that. And they got too big and all the sudden look at it. It’s sad to see.”
Bickle never won a checkered flag at the highest levels of racing, but what he accomplished during the bulk of his entire racing career, is quite the resume.
“I’m more proud of my short track career, I raced 225 different race tracks, probably the second winningest driver in the United States, short track races or third somewhere in that area. In 1990, I won every race there was in the United States. I think we ran 130 some races, I think I won a hundred. It was nuts. when we pulled into the race track, you were running 2nd. If we didnt break, or get wrecked or have a flat tire, We pretty much dominated the whole country. I’m kind of very fortunate that I kind of got to live and go through the greatest years of racing and be part of it.”
The former Craftsman Truck and Busch series racer has almost four decades of driving on a multitude of tracks around the country, and Bickle details some of his confrontations including one with Darrell Waltrip.
“There’s some really good stories in there, and there’s going to be some people that are not going to be very happy, and NASCAR is one of them. I’ve called them out, and I’ve called a couple of guys who drove out. I don’t hold much back and am pretty straightforward. I’ve never been shy, let’s put it that way.”
Bickle’s book “Barnyard to Brickyard” is currently available on Amazon in paperback, along with Kindle and Audiobook formats. He will also hold a launch party on Wednesday night July 17 at Titletown Brewing Tap Room in Green Bay from 4-8 pm. Bickle will also make an appearance on Thursday July 18 at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna from 5:30-10 p.m.