D-O-B: June 25, 1937… Home Town: Raleigh, North Carolina
When Mary Lou Brewton e-mailed me (Dwight)a few days ago asking if I wanted to interview Ray Price, Inductee of the Motorcycle Hall of Fame, Senior Statesman in racing, and still racing Nitro Harleys at sixty-two, my fingers leaped to my keyboard…a privilege I could never pass up. Mary Lou coordinated an appropriate time and day, and as things go sometimes when the day came, I had a rush-meeting across town. I had to conduct the interview parked under a tree via cell phone from Tampa, Florida to Raleigh, North Carolina…on the same morning I forgot to charge that cell phone. Ray Price didn't know it, but his interview taught me much about time management, as I was able to ask all my questions and scribe his answers within thirty minutes, before my phone faded.
While revising the interview, I discovered the most interesting point about Mary Lou's e-mails was her description of Ray Price as Senior Statesman. One chief quality of a statesman is that they articulate well, and render complex things understandable. Statesmen should also possess high character, and display attributes which younger people should emulate. Only thirty minutes of talking to Ray Price convinced me that he possesses extraordinary fiber. He also communicates with rare ease.
Listen in…while I chat with this Senator of Speed…
Do you have a nickname?
"No. Not really."
Who are your Heroes?
"Cars…Richard Petty… Bikes…Elmer Trett and Marion Owens…Business…Bob Bass and Steve Stroud."
What are (or have been) your scariest moments?
"Every pass when you shut the throttle down, when you have to start thinking about stopping. It's fast. Shut-down areas are not always safe. Over time and many races the big end gets rougher and bouncy. It's a tense moment. Tracks spend money and effort smoothing the racing surface, but too often they stop at the finish line. That's where the acceleration stops and the deceleration begins…and the rough area begins too. I've fallen four times…all at the end in the rough area. That's why it's a tense moment."
Photo by Charlie Brewton
Do you work out?
Do you have a special diet?
"Off an on. Especially the Holiday weight. Nothing special, but I have a low carbohydrate diet."
What mental routine prepares you for each run?
" I say a prayer in the motor home when I 'm putting on my leathers. I thank God for keeping me safe…pray that he keeps me safe. Then I do all the things to visualize a safe ride. The line. The tree. The finish line. How I want the ride to happen, and how I can make it happen."
Do you have time for a hobby?
"Drag racing is my hobby, but it went from a hobby to professional racing. I also like street riding and business-thinking-time."
Many motorcyclists ride to unravel, what do you do to unwind?
"Work on my drag bike."
What personal quality (one trait) would you want to be admired for most?
"Honesty. Concern for others. Competitiveness."
What's most important?
1.Fame 2.Money 3.Thrill/fun 4.Winning
"All of the above. These four things you have picked trigger me the most and are very important to me."
Are you happy?
What could make you happier?
"Being able to accomplish all the ideas and goals in my head."
If you could change one thing about motorcycle drag racing, what would it be?
When driving a car, do you always wear a seatbelt?
1. Yes. 2. No. 3. If yes, really?
"Most of the time."
What does 185 (PLUS) miles an hour on a motorcycle feel like?
"Exciting. It feels good. Two hundred ten miles-an-hour is pleasant. The thrill feels over and over. But the acceleration is the biggest thrill. How quick you get there…when you shut down the throttle. It's all ET to me. The speed is not all that exciting as is how I get there in that quarter mile. You can't tell the difference between one hundred ninety and two hundred and ten miles-an-hour, but most of the time you can tell when your pass is an accomplishment."
Do you have a full-time occupation?
"Harley-Davidson Dealership owner."
Where do you find the most peace in your life?
"Family, business and drag racing. The activity is demanding. I have a large program with twenty-eight employees. I'm also building a drag racing museum with a virtual-realty drag strip. It takes time and coordination. The focus is on unique stuff and a quality retail area to support the project. "
You're a skilled racer…What one factor, what one reason separates you from the fast traffic on smooth public highways?
"Alertness and quickness. I recognize what's next. Racers are the best drivers because we are quick to recognize a potential problem. We are aware and alert and able to react before a crash happens. If all drivers were aware, many crashes would be prevented."
When did you started in Motorcycle drag racing?
Why motorcycles and not cars?
"I grew up on a farm. We had only one car for our family. My dad couldn't afford for the car to be damaged by racing…and I couldn't afford my butt to be damaged either. (By my father.) I thought about both realities. I raced motorcycles."
You're sixty-two. How do you keep going…this fast?
"Just sheer determination. I love the excitement, and I want to race as long as I can. I hope I can race when I'm seventy-five."
"My whole world is Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, drag racing, and my family, but not necessarily in that order. I meet a lot of people. I make a lot of friends. In business. In racing. Great friends. I guess I'd like to ask every one to pay more attention. Friends, and everyone…make sure you recognize your ability and use it…use it to the best level. When I grew up on a farm we all had to work hard, so I appreciate the value of hard work. I don't see people working that hard, but I keep seeing the value of that hard work."
Photo by Charlie Brewton
At age sixty-two Ray Price routinely exceeds two hundred miles an hour on a drag racing motorcycle, while his peers are more likely to routinely cruise in their full-sized luxury cars to their doctors. I find that inspiring.
On his web site …www.RayPrice.com…Ray's involvement with motorcycle drag racing is described as…"not all of his life, just most of it."
Ray's numerous championships and life-long contribution to motorcycle drag racing is why we include Ray in Signature Profiles © and Legend Profiles © on this site. When I started looking for adjectives to describe Ray, the dictionary got smaller. I thought about venerable at first, but after much thought I decided on a word that seems to gallop into the arena of honor…Gary agreed...Ray Price possesses many hearty attributes, and appropriately he is…