Rick Goudy Named Grand Marshal of the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Rick Goudy and the Stan Lee Team in Ascot’s 1978 TNGP victory circle. Photo from the Rick Goudy Collection.
From Lance Jennings

VENTURA, Ca. (November 8, 2017) — Ventura Raceway promoter Jim Naylor and Agajanian Promotions are pleased to announce that Rick Goudy has been named Grand Marshal of the 77th Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix. Featuring the USAC National and Light Up The World Beverages Western States Midgets along with the USAC West Coast and VRA Sprint Cars, the popular 2-day event starts Wednesday, November 22nd.

Goudy, who won the Thanksgiving Classic at Ascot Park in 1978, is the only driver to win the prestigious race and the CRA (California Racing Association) Sprint Car Championship in the same year. “I’m very proud and honored to be selected to be the Grand Marshal of this year’s USAC Turkey Night Grand Prix. To win the Grand Prix has been a goal of mine since the 1950s and the winning Grand Prix drivers of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s were my heroes. The win in 1978 was so very special for me and my family,” said Goudy.

Piloting Stan Lee’s #66 Continental Airlines VW powered Edmunds, Rick won the 100-lap race ahead of Sleepy Tripp, Johnny Anderson, Jon Rahe, and Mike Gregg. Goudy recalled, “I purposely lagged back in the field to save my energy as well as the car performance. Ascot’s surface was very heavy and tacky that Thanksgiving, which required extra stamina by the driver as well as the car. One hundred laps on such a surface would be the most demanding race a midget driver would experience during the year racing around the country. We were very happy when our plan to conserve for the end of the race played out. I passed Rich Vogler and Sleepy Tripp about lap 92 and won. Racing at Ascot was a very special experience for midget racers and fans.”

Before adding his name to the Turkey Night winner’s list, Goudy gave the Morales Brothers their sixth CRA Sprint Car Championship in 1978. Racing the famed #2 Alex Xlnt Foods Edmunds “Tamale Wagon,” Rick earned his first victory on September 4th at Ascot, where he claimed the twin main events. From September 16th to October 7th, Rick won five races in a row and closed out the season with nine victories, including a World of Outlaws victory at Chula Vista on October 22nd.

Born in Akron, Ohio in 1946, Goudy was raised in Norwalk, California and began racing quarter midgets at eight years old. With a crew consisting of his father George and brother Gary, Rick raced against future stars Dean Thompson, Bobby Olivero, Mike Mosley, and Danny Caruthers. Gaining valuable experience, Goudy moved up the ranks and graduated to half midgets before jumping directly to CRA Sprint Cars in 1967, where he earned Rookie of the Year honors.

Goudy’s racing career nearly came to an end at an Ascot CRA Sprint Car race on April 27, 1968. Racing the Baker & Altrip #10 entry, Rick’s throttle stuck on the last lap of the feature and a crash into the wall resulted in a fiery blaze. The safety crews arrived quickly to extinguish the fire and he was transported to a local hospital. Suffering multiple first, second, and third degree burns throughout his body, Goudy underwent skin grafts and surgery on his road to recovery.

After recuperating, Rick returned to racing the following year with the NMRA TQ Midgets and later with the URA and USAC Midgets. Gaining confidence and winning main events, Goudy’s efforts were rewarded by claiming the 1970 URA Championship and finishing second to Gary Bettenhausen at the Turkey Night Grand Prix that same year.

Goudy returned to the CRA Sprint Car wars in 1971 and placed seventeenth in points despite missing the first five races. The following season, Rick won his first sprint car race at a 100-lap unsanctioned event in San Jose, California on June 1st. Driving the Leonard Faas owned “King O’ Lawn” Midget, Goudy scored USAC National victories at Springfield, Illinois on July 29th and Phoenix, Arizona’s Manzanita Speedway on November 3rd. As his schedule allowed, Rick also competed with the USAC National Sprints and Dirt Champ Cars.

Employed as an engineer, Rick’s full-time job would keep his racing close to home like many racers on the West Coast. Racing for car owners Leonard Faas, Bill Pratt, Rocky Grimsley, and Alex Morales, Goudy enjoyed success with CRA and became one the most popular drivers on the circuit with his smooth driving style. This includes winning the CRA Midget Championship driving for Stan Lee in 1974.

After a career year in 1978, Rick won two early season races at Ascot in the Morales “Tamale Wagon” and then announced his retirement. With his wife Kathy, two children to raise, and his Streaker Wheels company, Goudy hung up his racing helmet as the reigning champion. Rick later sold his company and worked on projects for NASA and the space shuttle.

At the time of his retirement from CRA in 1979, Rick Goudy had posted fifteen fast time awards, twenty-six trophy dash wins, thirty-one sprint car feature wins, and five midget triumphs.

On Wednesday, November 22nd, the festivities for the 77th Running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix will begin with qualifying and racing for the USAC West Coast and VRA Sprint Cars. The USAC National and Western States Midgets will have a special practice session. On Thursday, the Sprint Cars will have their semi-mains and feature, while the midgets will qualify, race their semi-mains, and compete in a 98-lap main event. There will be a special driver autograph session at intermission on both nights.

ARP Bolts is offering a special $50,000 bonus to the driver that wins both the Thursday night sprint car and midget main events. A talented roster of drivers from across the country are expected at this prestigious event.

Ventura Raceway is located on the Ventura County Fairgrounds at 10 West Harbor Blvd. in Ventura, California. More event and ticket information can be found at www.venturaraceway.com or calling 805.648.RACE.