WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (August 29, 2016) – To put it mildly, Funny Car driver Dave Richards and the Paul Richards Racing team are eager for the next event on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. The 62nd annual U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis will mark the first time that Richards has had the opportunity to compete at the historic, lauded race on such hallowed grounds, and he will do so with a brand new, eye-catching look on his Alzheimer's Association Ford Mustang.
His Indy debut couldn't come at a better time.
"We've definitely shown improvement throughout the season," said Richards, a resident of West Palm Beach, Fla., and owner of All Pro Pools. "Charlotte was tough – we didn't qualify, and then we struggled for a couple of races – but we were good in Atlanta, and Epping we ran a career best in the first round against Ron Capps. I'm really feeling optimistic heading into Indy."
Richards launched into 2016 with renewed purpose and the support of Brian and Janie Mahoney of Prestige Corporate Headquarters. Through the Mahoney's gracious backing, the Paul Richards Racing team committed to an all-time high 10 races for the season, and they have piloted their family Funny Car to raise awareness for Alzheimer's Association (alz.org), whose mission is "to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health."
The Ford Mustang driven by Richards boasts an all-new look for the U.S. Nationals with enhanced focus on Alzheimer's Association, though no funds will come from the organization.
"As we've been letting people know at the racetrack, the sole purpose of having Alzheimer's Association on the car is to raise awareness," said Richards. "We encourage everyone to go to alz.org and learn more about what they can do to help prevent, or maybe someday cure, this disease that more than 5 million people are currently battling. Without the development of medical breakthroughs, that number is expected to triple by 2050 – but if we all do what we can now, we can really make a difference."
To debut the fresh look at the U.S. Nationals is exciting for the team, particularly after the 4.135-second pass at 306.12 mph at the New England Nationals in Epping earlier this year that finally sent Richards into the 300+ mph zone.
"That run was a huge accomplishment for us, and a personal goal of mine for a long time. Now we get to go to Indy, which has been another goal for a long time," said Richards. "I remember being there in 2007 as a spectator, and sitting in the stands thinking, maybe someday. It was always something I'd wanted, but I wasn't sure we'd ever make it there. Thanks to the Mahoneys and everyone working so hard on our team, we'll be going to the biggest race on the tour with a chance to break into a tough field. We're very grateful, and very excited."
The Paul Richards Racing team includes the dedicated efforts of crew chief Paul Smith, Kevin Fenstermaker, John "Bodie" Smith, Danielle Fenstermaker, Chris Foster, Dave Lindsey, Stephen Hoppe, Don Lynch, Mike Hennessey, Mike Dusinski, Dustin Johnson, Ryan Scott, and Ray Murphy. At the race shop, John Miricki, Steve Gruenwald, Michael Harrigan, Tyler Kitchens, Adam Cranmer, and Jimmy Campello have worked hard to prepare for the event.
Notably, Richards has already made more runs this season than he has in the past three years, and it won't end at the U.S. Nationals. The team has announced that they will finish the season with appearances in Charlotte, Dallas, and for the first time, Las Vegas and season-closer in Pomona.
"It's a lot, but it's good. I have to say thank you to my awesome wife, Serena," said Richards, a father of two children with his wife, including Baby Macie, born in July. "Serena is a great mom to our daughters, Leah and Macie, and she is so unselfish. I couldn't do this without her support.
"Family is a big part of this," continued Richards, who is also supported by brothers Paul, Brian and Michael in his Funny Car journey. "It will be really neat to have my mom and dad, Peggy and Gary, there with us. My dad is really excited – he's been telling us for a long time that we need to go to Indy, and that it's where all the big upsets happen. I don't know about that, but I just want to go there and earn it. It's going to be tough, but we know we have the ability and resources to run well and earn a spot in the field."
For more information about Alzheimer's Association, please visit alz.org.