Richard Atkinson is a proud member of the Canadian Forces and one of Speedway 660’s most loyal and dedicated racers. Atkinson, a veteran Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman Division driver, is an inspiration to everyone in the Geary Woods. Wade Wilson, Speedway 660 announcer, recently had a Conversation with Richard Atkinson.
Richard Atkinson is having a great season at Speedway 660. Our “Excitable Guy” loves those podium finishes and on Saturday night will be going for his fourth straight top three in the Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman Division.
Wade: Richard you have been racing here for a long time. Do you remember what year you started and why you got into a race car?
Richard: I started racing in 1986 in what they used to call the Dukes of Hazzard class at Riverglade Speedway. My father was my inspiration, Dickie Atkinson for those who know him. He used to race against the likes of “Fearless” Frankie Fraser, Frankie Moore and Les Lamb at Hammond River Speedway. I spent many years going to the track with my dad seeing and feeling the excitement and I knew it was something I wanted to do. I run his number 40 because I have so much respect for my dad.
Wade: You are Speedway 660’s most excitable guy, when it comes to those podium interviews on the front stretch. Why do you get so wound-up after having a great run?
Richard: That is a simple one to answer Wade, podium finishes are so hard to come by at Speedway 660. You have to live in the moment, because you don’t know if or when the next one is going to happen!! We are a small budget team and to feel the pride in taking a car from nothing to something means a lot to us. That is why I get so excited.
Wade: The Martin’s Home Heating Sportsman Division is the backbone of racing here. Competition is always tough and it’s hard to compete against some of the top teams. What keeps you coming back every year?
Richard: The camaraderie among the drivers at Speedway 660 is second to none. I have never seen that at any other speedway. The clean racing, tough competition and awesome fans are what bring me back each year.
Wade: Sponsors are very important in our sport. I know many of your sponsors have been supporting you for years. How good does that make you feel?
Richard: I feel really happy and proud to carry my sponsor’s names on my race car. For years I went with-out sponsors. The last ten years or so I have found some very good, loyal sponsors. This has given me the ability to maintain and improve my team’s race program. I feel very honored and proud to represent my sponsors. Dave and Lee Goodine of Model Town Apartments, Jeff Grey of Grey Signs, Doug and Dave Vaughn of the Auto Machinery Auto Value Parts store, Tony Skipton of Around the Roof Eavestroughing, John Clark and Gary Laroque of Clark Chevrolet and our newest sponsor Linda Foss of Go Girl Fitness. These wonderful folks make it possible for me to go racing every week.
Wade: Racing is a family sport and our drivers couldn’t compete week in, week out without the help of their families. But your wife Heather is more hands-on than many of the other wives. Can you explain her role on your race team?
Richard: Wade, this is an awesome question. My wife’s primary role on this race team is to keep me in line and focused!! Heather also keeps everything and everyone else organized too. She keeps track of tire temperatures, tire pressures and tire stagger. And oh yeah - she also makes sure the lug nuts are tightened up, even the one behind the wheel!!
Wade: Speedway 660 is a special place for you. Why are you so loyal to your local short-track?
Richard: This speedway is family orientated Wade. Seeing the kids run up and down the grandstands, watching their faces light up when the cars come on the track is what keeps me coming back every year!!
Wade: You are a career military man. What is it about the Canadian Forces that makes you so proud?
Richard: It is our history, where we have been and what we have done. It is the loyalty, integrity, honour and discipline that it instills in a person that makes me so proud to be a member of the Canadian Forces.
Wade: You always lend a helping hand to other racers. I know Shawn Warren and Robbie Fraser are two guys who appreciate your help. Why do you help other drivers who might go out and beat you in a race?
Richard: Quite simply I want to race them on the track, not beat them in the pits. It is important for me to know that I got beat fairly or won a race fairly against my fellow drivers. Plus, over the years lots of people have helped me too and I just want to pay forward those favours.
Wade: Thanks for doing this Richard and all the best for the rest of the 2012 season at Speedway 660.
Richard: Thank you Wade for giving me the opportunity to have this chat with you. I’ve enjoyed it and yes we hope for a great season this year!!