“I arrived late for that because had to go through tech,” said Ricci.  “I wrecked my car bad [in the last race at Waterford] and I wanted to be sure that it was all right.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation was here and I really wanted to go up and be a part of that.  That is what we have to do as racecar drivers.  Those kids love this and to share racing with them is great.  I remember sitting there on the fence when I was a kid watching stuff like this.”

Lee USA Is Setting For Young Driver's First TVMRS Points-Race Victory
Most of the drivers took part in a special session of meeting, greeting and signing autographs for the Make-A-Wish guests after heat races for the Modifieds were complete.  Helmets were passed through the grandstands and nearly $1,100 was raised for the charity.  Smiles were on both the faces of the children and the drivers during the event.

As the drivers left the function and prepared for the race, one racer was walking in the other direction.  24-year-old Tony Ricci missed the opportunity to cross over from the infield to the hospitality area, but he was understandably tied up with getting his car through pre-race inspection.  But he didn’t want to miss the chance to meet the children and after the cameras stopped flashing and the party died down, Ricci stopped by to quietly meet the young race fans in attendance.
On Friday night at Lee USA Speedway (NH), the True Value Modified Racing Series visited the track for a very special night of racing.  The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, had dozens of families in attendance. 
The TVMRS drivers got to meet the children associated with Make-A-Wish at Lee.  (51 Photo)
When he knew that he had a winning car under him, Ricci had some fun with his #4 ride.

“There are some good guys here and it’s fun when you can drive around them.  I’m not trying to brag and say that I was that much better, but the car was very good tonight and when you can get by them on the top like that, it’s pretty rewarding.”

Finishing behind Ricci at the conclusion of the event were Richard Savary, Jimmy Kuhn, Jon McKennedy and Hinckley.
leaders were losing momentum.  The loss of power steering sealed Hinkley’s fate and Ricci took over the lead with seven laps remaining to roll to victory lane in only his third start of 2006.

“I was holding back a little bit and saving my stuff,” said Ricci.  “The only other race that I got to complete in this series was at Monadnock and I learned a lot there.  Guys can burn their stuff up early in the race, so I got in the middle of the pack – third, fourth and fifth – and just rode to save my tires.  I honestly didn’t know if I had enough to get by those guys at the end.  I surprised me to see how much they backed up in the last 20 laps.  My car stayed the same.”
In the end, it was Ricci who came out on top.
A few hours later, the children got to see their new friend score his first point victory in TVMRS competition as Ricci proved that wishes and dreams can come true. 

“This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” said Ricci.  “I’ve always loved everything about these cars [Modifieds] – the way that they look, the way that they drive and the way that they sound.  They are a different breed.  I’ll race anything, but this is where my heart is.”

Ricci started 11th in the race of 100 green flag laps and moved up steadily through the evening.  While Les Hinckley dominated the race, leading 93 laps, Ricci was content to just make forward progress.  As the laps clicked down, Ricci was gaining ground while the other
Ricci (#4) gets to race Les Hinckley (#06) for the race victory as the laps clicked down.  (Jamie Williams Photos)
Winning at Lee is not a new feeling for Ricci.  In 2003, he scored a Modified victory at the track’s Oktoberfest show.  It was an open show that featured many of the TVMRS teams, but was not a points event.  Now, winning a bona fide points race with his own equipment is the new highlight of Ricci’s driving career.

“I’d have to say so,” said Ricci.  “The first win is the first win, but then I drove for someone else and they gave me a really good car.  This is the first time that I’ve won a race though in something that is my own…something that my guys and I work on week-in and week-out. 
Ricci’s life is racing.  His day job is to work as the crew chief in the shop of PASS Super Late Model driver Scott Mulkern.  He also owns a business that hangs bodies and builds racecars for many other teams and even helps out LW Miller’s USAR Pro Cup team on occasion.  That leaves precious little time for working on his own #4 Modified, but it does give him access to a lot of helpful hands and minds.

“We’re in the shop every night and I get a lot of help.  LW Miller has been helping me out along, Caesar Morgan [Ben Rowe’s PASS crew chief] from Rebound Technologies helps out.  To have everyone helping me on my car is special.  I work hard.  I work on everyone else’s racecars and my cars suffer sometimes because of that.”
With the victory, Ricci hopes to have paved himself a path to a long-term home in TVMRS.

“I’m definitely the new guy here,” said Ricci.  “I hope that this seals the deal and I can be considered one of the regulars now.  I want to make a home in this series.  It’s close to home, it’s pretty affordable and it’s good racing.  I work for a living and I get a lot of help – my father and Scott Mulkern sponsor me, but I’m still underfunded.  With what my budget allows, I should be racing street stocks and not modifieds.  But this is where I want to be and I really hope that I can make a home here.”

Speed51.com will have more from the True Value Modifieds coming up including leftovers from Lee later this week and an in-depth profile of Ricci and his adventures in everything from True Value Mods to PASS to Pro Cup.  Stay tuned.

Ricci in victory lane at Lee.