2023 Lucas Oil North/South 100 at Florence Speedway

New Life For Josh Rice's Wrecked Race Car At North/South 100

New Life For Josh Rice's Wrecked Race Car At North/South 100

New life for Josh Rice's wrecked race car

Aug 11, 2023 by Todd Turner

UNION, Ky. (Aug. 10) — It’s tough enough on Josh Rice’s competition that the 25-year-old can outrun just about anybody at his home track of Florence Speedway when his race car is top-notch.

But that the seventh-starting Verona, Ky., driver was able to race to a third-place finish Thursday at the 4/10-mile oval driving a Rocket Chassis that a few weeks earlier was destined for the junkpile might serve as a warning to Rice’s North-South 100 foes.

Rice is chasing Saturday’s $75,000 payday on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and got off to a solid start with his third-place performance in the opening 25-lap semifeature won by Bobby Pierce of Oakwood, Ill. Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn., won the night’s second semifeature.

It wasn’t long ago that Rice couldn’t have imagined running his favorite car — nicknamed Betty Lou — because he’d wrecked it during mid-July World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series heat race competition at Ponderosa Speedway in Junction City, Ky.

Rice called it a “racing deal" with Shane Clanton during a WoO prelim that sent his No. 11 into the turn-one concrete.

“We were both fighting trying to get into (turn) one,” Rice said. “He leaned on me just enough to get me above the cushion and I just killed the wall.”

Said Rice: “It was in bad shape.”

Adding Rice’s father and crew chief Jerry Rice: “We didn’t know if it’d go in a circle it was bent so bad.”

Betty Lou suddenly had a new name — Bent Betty — and when Rice checked with the Shinnston, W.Va., shop of Rocket Chassis about making repairs, they told him don't bother.

“I sent a picture to Rocket and they told me not to bring it to ‘em,” Rice said. “That’s how bad it was. They said I was might as well just get a new car.”

It wasn’t good news for Rice Brothers Racing, which includes Josh’s older brother James, and the team decided to order a new Rocket to replace Bent Betty. Meanwhile, the team elected to make a last-ditch effort to repair the car. They had nothing to lose, Jerry Rice said.

“My uncle Jack (Rice) came and got it and we rolled it up on his frame rack at the body shop — which is 100 feet rom the race shop — we rolled it up there and he just hooked it down and pulled it straight,” Josh Rice said. "The rear clip was over about 4 or 5 inches. The center was knocked in, which had two four-bar plates twisted. The front clip was actually knocked over from a previous wreck. So he pulled literally, the rear, the center and the front. I mean, it looks good. It looks straight as can be.

“I saw it the next day and I was like, 'Oh, this thing looks pretty good.' Like, you could tell like the four-link plates were twisted, and when they pulled the center back straight, we were like, ‘Hell, let’s try it.’ It’s still together. All we had to do was put the body back on it.”

Last weekend, Rice took the car back to Ponderosa for an Valvoline Iron-Man Racing Series and to Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway for Northern Allstars event, and remarkably, the car felt almost as good as new.

“We were going to take it last weekend and just basically shake it down to have a good spare for this weekend. And I was like, ‘This thing’s good.’ We’ll just take it” to run the North-South, which is what he’s done. The car was actually good enough to win its previous two races, Rice believed.

"I feel like we should have won both those deals. I feel like we were the best car, just wrong tire choice (at Brownstown) and kind of a driver error there (at Ponderosa),” he said.

The repair of the car was somewhat bittersweet for Rice. He was glad to have his trusty 3-year-old car back, but getting a 2023 chassis sounded good, too.

“That’s been our best car. We’ve won a lot of races in that thing,” Rice said. “About every race we've won this year has been in that car. I was pretty sad when we bent it, but I was also really sad when I had to cancel that new car.”

Bent Betty’s Brownstown’s performance was excellent, but Rice felt like he was lacking a bit Thursday at Florence. He’ll get another chance Friday when Lucas Oil Series action resumes with two more 25-lap semifeatures ahead of Saturday’s lucrative 100-lapper at the northern Kentucky oval.

“Saturday night at Brownstown, it was really good,” he said. “We were locked to the racetrack and I didn’t really have to lean on anything. But tonight we weren't as good. I had to lean on that cushion. I think we can get it right. I don't think the car’s in the shape where we can’t get it right. We just got to find out what it likes.”