Bedford MA – When Richards Parker Racing debuts at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway this Friday, one of the people most interested in the results will be half a world away. That would be team co-owner Mark Richards; make that U.S. Army specialist Mark Richards, who is currently stationed in Afghanistan.
Richards recently joined forces with driver Josh Parker to form Richards Parker Racing, LLC. Remarkably, Richards knows little about racing; in fact, he was not even interested in motorsports until a conversation with Parker while on leave in their home town of Cranston, RI earlier this year led to the formation of their race team.
Knowing that Parker is among the top drivers on iRacing.com, the world’s leading online motorsports service, Richards asked why he hadn’t translated his online racing success into “real” racing. Like tens of thousands of aspiring racer drivers before him, Parker explained he lacked the financial resources to make the step to stock car racing.
“That conversation came to an end pretty quickly,” says Parker, 2009 iRacing.com Pro Series champion. “Then about a month after Mark returned overseas he called and said he wanted to start a race team with me. ‘I have the money,’ Mark said. ‘I can’t really do anything with it over here, so I want to put it towards something good.
“How cool is that?” Parker continues. “A guy serving his country, fighting so people like me can have the freedom to do things like race online, and here he is calling from Afghanistan offering to spend whatever it takes to give me my break in racing.”
With Richards’ backing, additional support from iRacing.com and help from "Rent a Racecar" in acquiring a Chevy Monte Carlo suitable for the Dare Stock class, Parker will make his first start on Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway.
“We’re excited that Richards Parker Racing will be racing with us,” says Stafford Motor Speedway chief operating officer and general manager Mark Arute. “The story behind this new team speaks volumes for the kind of men and women serving in our armed forces, and we’re proud to have Richards Parker Racing at Stafford Motor Speedway this 4th of July weekend.”
Dare Stock may be an entry-level division that’s about as far removed from NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series as you can get, but Parker is keenly aware he’s one big step – perhaps the biggest step of all – closer to realizing his dream of a career as a race driver.
And it’s only a beginning for Richards Parker Racing.
“Mark’s already talking about moving-up to Late Models next year,” says Parker, a customer service representative for the MBTA when he’s not working with his all- volunteer crew preparing the race car. “But for now we’re focused on this weekend. Mark calls every day, asking how the preparations are going, seeing if we’ve got everything we need. Thanks to Mark – and I can never thank him enough – we do.”
So when Parker takes the green flag on Friday, he won’t be racing just for himself, but for an extraordinary friend and teammate half a world away.
Follow every single step of Richards Parker Racing’s journey on Josh Parker’s Twitter page. He’ll be posting updates each day about the car and the races, or you can find him on Facebook. Josh’s first race will be on Friday, July 6th.
Sources: David Phillips/iRacing.com
iRacing.com was founded in September, 2004 by Dave Kaemmer and John Henry. Kaemmer was co-founder of Papyrus Design Group, developers of award-winning racing simulations including NASCAR Racing: 2003 Season and Grand Prix Legends. Henry is principle owner of the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC and Fenway Sports Group – the co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing – as well as an avid sim racer. The iRacing.com team combines more than 100 years of real-world racing experience with more than 50 years of successful racing simulation development.