One Last Motor From Nick Ramey

Max Force Racing

It was just a few years ago Thomas “Moose” Praytor and I showed up at Roush Yates Racing to have a motor installed in our first and at the time our only ARCA car to test and hopefully race at Daytona. Nick Ramey, the head of the ARCA program for Roush Yates Racing, thought he was ready to install a motor, dyno it and send us on our way that day. Well that was what was supposed to happen.

As luck would have it, Andy Belmont was closing his ARCA team and the car Thomas had driven for Belmont at Talladega was for sale. Already on a budget Andy sold/gave us the car and a box full of parts that went it. Grant Enfinger picked it up from Belmont’s and Rick Crawford brought it to Mobile.

We had been talking with Nick Ramey during the season as to what the cost would be and what we needed to have to get the car going for Daytona. There wasn’t enough money in the budget to continue to race late models and go to Daytona, Thomas very quickly chose a shot at Daytona.

Thomas Praytor and Nick Ramey

We put together enough money to lease the motor for the test and headed to Roush Yates with our car and our box full of parts, we thought we were ready, not even close.

Ramey had our motor ready and Wadell Wilson brought us a transmission and a gear and we started the install process. It didn’t take long before we realized we didn’t have everything we needed. I don’t think we had anything we needed and what we did have the guys at Roush didn’t like any of it.

We started making laps from the motor shop to the parts store and our bill was starting to look really big! Worse the parts store didn’t have all of our parts but Nick would always appear with the part we needed from the magic box he has hidden somewhere in the catacombs of Roush Yates.

A day turned into a day and half then 2 days with more laps to the parts store and more coaching from Nick and Wayno as to where we should be putting stuff once we found out we needed it. Finally after 3 days we were on the chassis dyno and the dream of going to Daytona was looking like it might become reality.

On a budget I was scared to death of our bill waiting for us at the parts counter, without getting anyone in to too much trouble our bill wasn’t as long as it should have been, kind of like the parts coming from Nick’s magic box.

After installing the motor at Roush Yates we came back home and worked for days trying to fix all the stuff Nick and the guys at Roush Yates showed us we had done wrong before we got there. We convinced Lee Leslie, Belmont’s long time crew chief to come to the test with us and between Lee and Nick we survived the test.

We begged and borrowed enough money to go back to the race at Daytona but we knew going in Lee Leslie was close to landing a Cup job and we could lose him at any time. Two nights before the race we lost him. I got a bunch of notes from Lee over the phone and the 2 rockets scientist that didn’t know which way a motor should be pointed in the car a couple of months ago were now in control.

As soon as we unloaded Nick was there to help us out, not just with the motor but everything a couple of rookies needed to know. Practice was shortened because of rain and we didn’t have the speed we had at the test. Thanks to the owners points off the 2 car from Wayne Hixson we didn’t really need to worry about qualifying we just needed to race well. Nick recommended a gear that wasn’t going to qualify but would draft and race. Since we only had the 1 gear we had to go borrow another one from Big Bill Venturini. The gear wasn’t the only thing we borrowed, we had already borrowed a fuel cell from Howard Bixman and a laundry list of other parts from just about everyone in the garage because the ARCA inspectors didn’t like the ones we had.

Sure enough we took a provisional to get in the race and started in the back. We used a little pit strategy and suddenly we were 3rd. Thomas spent the bulk of the race in the top 5 and for the people watching on TV back in Mobile you would have thought he won the race!

For us we had won, Thomas had proven he could race with the best in the business and when I stuck my head in the window after the race it was one of the coolest moments I’ve had in motorsports. The second guy to the window was Nick Ramey.

Mark McCarter from and the Huntsville Times was there to interview us and he wanted to know why they were taking our car apart. I said that’s all the stuff we’ve borrowed since we’ve been down here and we have to give it back.

Racing with Wayne Hixson the last two seasons we’ve used more and more Ford motors and Nick has saved our behinds on more than one occasion. Not to mention all the parts pieces and knowledge he has given us and the guys that work on our team.

We’ll be headed to Daytona again in a few weeks to test for the race in February and while a lot of teams have opted for the new engine package, we chose our reliable Roush Yates power plant.

In the racing business you never say, never, last or final but for now it looks like we’ve picked up our last Roush Yates motor from Roush Yates Performance. Of course Nick Ramey was there to make sure I had everything we needed and then went over a list of things I should be doing and not doing with his motor. Always teaching, which will serve him well as the new instructor at the Roush Yates School of Performance.

Last week, Ramey was awarded the ARCA Spirit Award at the banquet in Indianapolis and it couldn’t have gone to a nicer person. A fitting tribute to a man that has meant so much to so many of us.

The powers that be say we’ve gotten our last motor from Roush Yates Performance but I’m not so sure we’ve seen the last of Nick Ramey. So if you see a guy underneath a Ford baseball cap working on our motor, pay no attention he’s just a guy doing us a favor like he has a hundred times before. Tommy Praytor