- 24 September 2014
More than two years have passed, but the wound is still fresh and likely will be for some time to come.
In March of 2012 Garth Rickards and his sister Olivia said goodbye to their mom. Garth's dad John said goodbye to his wife. Judy's four-year battle with cancer was over, and life would never be the same for those that were left behind.
By all accounts Judy Rickards was a wonderful person, but she was not what you would call a racing fan. The sport scared her a bit. No, make that a lot, especially if her little boy was involved. For that reason Garth stayed on the sidelines. But Judy Rickards knew down deep that racing was something that her son longed for, and before she was taken she made sure Garth knew it.
“Follow your dream,” she told him. Three simple words from a mother to a son. Three simple words that changed Garth's life.
The Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania driver is quick to agree. “I've wanted to be behind the wheel of a race car all of my life.”
In just his second year of racing the soon to be 22 year old CoForce Development driver has made up for lost time in a hurry. In his 12 starts this season in the F1600 Series he has been on the podium eight times, has started on pole three times in the Team Pelfrey Snap 21 car, has race record laps to his credit at Watkins Glen & Road Atlanta, and has impressed everyone with his innate ability to maximize his race car in difficult situations. In one month he will return to fabled Watkins Glen International for the final two round of the F1600 Series season, and he will go there with a chance to do two things; post his first win of 2014 and win his first career title.
“My family is the most important thing in my life,” says Rickards. “We had some rough times when my mom passed away after her four year fight with cancer, but it has brought us closer. The advice and support that I get from my family is so important. I truly believe it's one of the big factors behind my success this season. My dad has been incredibly supportive, and I can't thank him enough for that.”
Rickards now gets set to return to the track that hosted rounds three and four of the schedule in May, and to say he's looking forward to revisiting the Finger Lakes region of New York would be an understatement. Garth was on the podium for both events at Watkins Glen, third in race one on May 17th, second in race two on May 18th.
“My high point of the season definitely came at Watkins Glen in May,” said Rickards.
“I felt like I took a big step there in my driving and found my zone. We finished on the podium in both races and were in position to win both races, which is exactly where we want to be the second weekend in October.”
On paper Garth trails in the F1600 championship standings by 38 points heading to The Glen, but because the Series drops each drivers worst two finishes of the season before calculating final standings Rickards the difference between first and second stands at just over 10 points. To make the situation even more interesting is the driver Garth is chasing for the title. None other than Team Pelfrey teammate and fellow CoForce Development driver Ayla Agren of Norway.
“I must admit, battling a teammate is different,” said Rickards. “We both see each others data during debriefing sessions, and we also watch on-track video together. On the other hand I have a lot of confidence when I race Ayla because I know that she'll fight hard, but she'll fight clean. That's all I ask for.”
In Garth's opinion family is a key to success, and that extends beyond the home front.
Rickard's racing “family” is important to him as well. Team Pelfrey has given him the on-track support to keep him in the hunt at every track he has visited this season, and CoForce owners Anders Krohn and Jonny Baker have made sure Garth has had the mental and physical preparation needed to be a front runner from day one.
“Anders and Jonny have given me everything and more to make sure that I can be the best that I can be,” says Rickards. “They've also been there with me, on and off the track, when times are tough. That says something to me about their character. What I love most is that we can joke around and have fun, but when it's go time. Time to take care of business, we make things happen. CoForce stands for Collective Force. We all believe that working together will bring us much more success than working as an individual.”
One thing is for certain. When Garth Rickards hoists his first winners trophy, or championship cup, he will not be lifting it alone.
Garth Rickards is not just following his dream...he is living it.
You can bet that Judy Rickards is smiling.