Ricky Joyner has dreamed of racing cars since he was a child.
Ricky Joyner, of Grovetown, sits at the wheel of his race car at his shop in south Augusta.
Photo by Chris Thelen
Now, the owner and operator of Joyner Mobile Lube, a Grovetown-based oil change business, lives that dream behind the wheel of a 1966 Plymouth, which he drives statewide in National Vintage Racing Association races.
As NASCAR legend Richard Petty did many times in his day, Joyner leads the point standings in the racing association's Late Model Sportsman class, with his second win this season coming July 23 at Oglethorpe Speedway in Pooler, Ga.
There are more similarities between Joyner and Petty as well.
"(The car) is Petty blue,'' Joyner said. "It looks just like a car that Richard Petty raced in 1967."
Joyner said that before he joined the racing association in late 2003, he noticed the car he would later buy and thought "Man, that car needs to be Petty blue with a No. 43 on it."
Joyner, of Grovetown, had heard that the man who owned the Plymouth no longer raced it, so Joyner found the owner.
"I bought it from him (in 2002) and I kind of restored that car and made it raceable," Joyner said. "I am just having a good time with it."
Joyner said he built and briefly raced a 1956 Chevrolet until he quit shortly after getting married to his high school sweetheart. Joyner started racing again in 1986, when he said he felt he could afford to race again. He quit a second time in 1991 when his three children became involved in middle school sports.
Now that his children are adults and out of the house, Joyner, 49, said he enjoys spending weekends racing with other vintage car owners.
"It's a blast," Joyner said.
He joined the racing association's Vintage Thunder racing series at the end of the 2003 season. He races the Plymouth in the Late Model Sportsman class.
"The Late Model Sports-men are really pretty true representations of what the cars would have been like when they raced back in the late 1960s and early 1970s," Joyner said.
Roy Parker, a race director for the NVRA, said he knows racers such as Joyner race because they love doing so, not because of the money. Tracks pay for the NVRA to put on a show, and all the participating racers split the prize money, Parker said.
"We don't even get enough for tow money," Parker said. "It's got to be a labor of love."
Joyner does his own work on his car and doesn't seek sponsors to help defray the costs of racing 12 events a season. He said he hopes to replace his 318-cubic-inch engine, which is often overpowered on larger tracks, with a 360 this winter.
Joyner had a few bugs to work out of his car, but has worked his way into the points lead as the season has progressed, Parker said.
"I think his consistency is better," he said.
Joyner agrees that his reliability is the main factor of his points lead.
"Really, I am underpowered, but on some of the dirt tracks, (the car) has handled so well that I have been able to beat some of the faster cars," he said. However, Joyner has had his fair share of trips into and over the outside race-track wall.
"I've barrel rolled off the back stretch. I barrel rolled about three times, but that doesn't hurt nearly as bad as hitting the wall," Joyner said.
If Joyner keeps up the points lead through this season's five remaining races, Parker said, he'll receive a prize at the end of the season in October.
"He'll get a trophy," Parker said. "Everybody gets paid the same."
Joyner will race at Senoia Raceway on Sept. 3; at the Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga., on Sept. 17; in Waycross on Oct. 1; and at Oglethorpe Speedway on Oct. 22.
"I plan to keep on keeping on," Joyner said.
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