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Jim Richards"Papa" Jim Richards has been a drag-boat racing mainstay for nearly four decades. (Photo courtesy Marsha Roberts Waz)

Corona, CA (August 16, 2018) – As others his age kick up their feet with a television remote in one hand and a cold drink in the other, one of the fastest men in drag-boat racing for nearly four decades has no plans to slow down.

No sir, 74-year-old "Papa" Jim Richards is going strong in his Pro Outlaw "Alka-Hauler" with one victory already in 2018 on the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series and a solid third place in the season points chase.

"As long as I feel good and as long as I can keep up with the young guys - and I'm doing pretty good at keeping up with them - I'll keep going," Richards said earlier this week from his home in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

Richards will be looking to win again at "Lake Lucas" in a couple of weeks, at the 8th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri. Richards beat Tyler Speer in the Pro Outlaw at the John Haas Memorial back in June, zipping the 1,000 feet in 5.3252 seconds at 171.8128 miles per hour.

While a bit perturbed that he's not made it back to a finals since, Richards called it a pretty good season overall.

"We ain't tore nothing up and the boat's running good," Richards said.

Richards said he always had an interest in going fast. He got his start in boat racing on northern Arkansas lakes nearly 50 years ago.

This after spending some time drag racing before "they got all messed up, so I quit doing that. Then family came along."

"We started getting into boats because we liked going to the lake," Richards said. "We then got into 'hot' boats and kept moving up, faster and faster. We were weekend racers, nothing sanctioned at the beginning, just lake racers back in the early '80s.

"I liked the way the boats did things, when we got tied into the organizations back then and stayed with them all these years."

Richards said the only real bad crash he's had occurred in 1994 on a lake in Mississippi when he was in a Pro Mod, which was then an open-cockpit boat.

"That was before the capsules and I was going 160, 165 miles per hour when I crashed at the finish line," Richards said. "I didn't break anything, but I was in the hospital five days.

"The boats have gotten a lot safer since then."

It was just a year or two prior to that crash when Richards' grandson gave him the "Papa" tag that has stuck. Now another grandson, Colby Nofire, has joined the team and races the "Indian Outlaw" Pro Mod boat. Colby is eighth in points in his division.

"That boat will run right on the (index) number," Richards said. "He just needs to get a little more seat time and be a little more consistent. But he's coming along."

Richards, who remains active with his brother in running Richards Tire & Service Center in Siloam Springs, said he's still the primary engine-tuner on the boats. His daughter Diana and son-in-law John Nofire, along with Colby and another grandson, Kye, comprise the team.

"Right now, everybody helps on both boats and it gets pretty hectic," Richards said.

Asked to compare his desire to race now compared to when he started, Richards does not hesitate.

"I've had to upgrade the electronics and computers and bring my boat into the 21st century in order to keep up with the younger guys. But we're doing pretty good," he said. "I still like to go racing."

Jim Richards"Papa" Jim Richards on his way to victory in his Pro Mod "Alka-Hauler" at June's John Haas Memorial at Lucas Oil Speedway. (Kenny Shaw photo)

Championship chases on the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series will resume Aug. 31-Sept. 2, with the 9th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals at Lucas Oil Speedway.

Advance tickets are on sale for the Diamond Drag Boat Nationals at by contacting Lucas Oil Speedway Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or my email at nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can go online to purchase tickets.

Weekend schedule:

Friday and Saturday
7 a.m. - Registration opens
8 a.m. - Spectator gates open
9 a.m. - Round 1 Qualifying (Sportsman session)
10:30 a.m. - Round 1 Qualifying (Pro session)
12:30 p.m. - Round 2 Qualifying (Sportsman session)
2 p.m. - Round 2 Qualifying (Pro session)

Sunday
8 a.m. - Spectator gates open
9 a.m. - Eliminations

***All times are tentative and subject to change without notice.

Admission prices
Ticket prices (All tickets include access to Drag Boat pit area):

Friday
General admission (6 and over) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
3-day general admission $50
3-day seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
3-day youth (ages 6-15) $20

Saturday (includes admission to dirt-track racing on Saturday night)
Adults (16 and over) $25
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $22
Youth (ages 6-15) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
3-day general admission (16 and over) $50
3-day Seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
3-day youth (ages 6-15) $20

Sunday
Adults (16 and over) $25
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $22
Youth (ages 6-15) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
3-day general admission (16 and over) $50
3-day Seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
Kids (5 and under) FREE

For more information and to buy tickets please visit the 8th Annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals event detail page.


CONTACT:

Dan Robinson
Interim Series Director, Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series
Office: (417) 282-5984
Dan@lucasoil.com

Television Schedule

Saturday, December 15
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Sunday, December 30
3:00 PM
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Sunday, January 6
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