Unbuckled: Getting To Know Ray Parent
Driver of the #17RI Amtrol Ford Fusion
Hometown: Tiverton, RI
2012: 7th place overall on the American Canadian Tour.
What are your favorite hobbies in the offseason?
Skiing. My boys just turned 12 and 13 and they are snowboarding and skiing so I love skiing with my wife and kids who I don’t get to see much during race season. I also coach recreational basketball with my kids.
What do you do for work?
I am a sales rep. I sell heating products to plumbing and heating wholesalers for Dan Davis Sales.
What is your biggest life accomplishment, would you say?
Honestly, I’m proud of being able to raise my family. My wife and I raised two good boys, we have a nice house, and we live in nice neighborhood. I’ve just surrounded myself with good people. My grandfather use to tell me if you surround yourself with good people good things happen, and I’ve had a lot of good things happen. Winning Loudon was obviously my biggest racing accomplishment ever, but I have to tell you finishing third down in New Smyrna, that was a huge accomplishment too.
Big Plans for 2013?
We’re going to run full time on the American Canadian Tour.
What is the state of your car currently?
The old car is all stripped down, but we have a brand new Distance Chassis car being built for next year. I’ve spent every weekend renovating my garage. I built a bathroom, painted the walls, we’re ready to have the new car in the new shop. Everybody that works on the car has full time jobs, so it’s a lot of work to change a car over from Thunder Road to Airborne. This new car will probably be a banked track car, and the old car will be flat tracks like Airborne, Devil’s Bowl, and Loudon.
What race are you looking forward to the most in 2013?
Obviously we would love to repeat at Loudon but I think Tom (Curley) put a nice package together for the International 500 at Airborne. We were really close on our setup at Airborne last year, missed it by a little bit, but it only takes a little bit every week to be far off.
What was the highlight of the 2012 year for you?
No doubt winning the Bond Auto ACT Invitational. It goes back to surrounding yourself with good people. I’ve been able to surround myself with good people family wise, friend-wise, and it all came together that day. I’m sure it meant a lot for my family, especially my wife who shows me a tremendous amount of support. My wife works two jobs, I work full-time, and I’m away one or two nights a week. Every other night I’m home I’m in the garage, so we spend a lot of time away from each other. To see her face after I won that race made it all worth it. I know she’s excited about me racing this year, and that helps a lot.
Do you have a hero? Someone you idolize as a racecar driver or try to emulate?
Growing up it was probably Dick Houlihan. He ran at Seekonk Speedway, and I think ran some ACT Tour races, too. He was such a gentleman on and off the track. He was clean and aggressive at the same time. I can be aggressive, but I don’t consider myself a “hammer-head”. I like to think I’m more like him.
Who is your biggest fan at the track?
I wish I knew. Being from Rhode Island, I live so far away from the Tour races that a lot of my family and friends don’t come out that far. Racing on the Tour I’m still trying to get people to like me. I’d love to know my biggest fan. I would give them a free jacket if I could figure out that person!
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
My Dad had a family boat, a 327 with dual-quad carburetors that did 90mph on the pond. A guy came by with a fishing boat and pulled alongside my father and wanted to race. I was in the boat with my Dad and a friend of mine, this wasn’t exactly the first time we had done this. We started racing and the shaft snapped and hit the rudder. The boat made a 90-degree turn, flipped, and we all got dumped out. I had just had watched Titanic, and my Dad was telling me the boat was so big it created a vortex and sucked everyone else down with it. I started frantically swimming to shore ‘cause I thought it was going to suck us under. My father was yelling at me but I was too scared to swim to the boat!
How did you start racing?
When I was a kid, my Dad built Modifieds but raced boats. Watching my dad race as a kid, I remember being in the garage after he totaled his boat. He was in the lead and his father was chasing him down and he flipped the boat over trying to beat him. With his life jacket on got pulled underwater and the boats went right over him. “I just didn’t want to get my head taken off,” he told me. I thought, “My old man has got to be a moron, what is wrong with him?!” My uncle started racing cars, and I thought that was a much safer idea. He decided he wanted to go modified tour racing, so my dad started building Modifieds and pro stocks, and I started racing 4-cylinder mini stocks right out of high school. After I got kicked out of the mini stocks for winning 12 races, I went three-quarter Supermodifed racing for awhile, and then started racing Prostocks at Seekonk Speedway.
Tell me about your family?
I’m married to my beautiful wife Stacy who puts up with a lot obviously and I have two boys Raymond and Reagan. Raymond is 13 and Reagan is 12, and we have a dog named Brady after Tom Brady the Patriots quarterback. He’s a golden retriever.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Probably having my hands full with two boys racing and me taking a backseat. Or maybe my goal would be to have me and the boys finished 1,2,3. My Dad use to race boats with his father, and I think fans use to go just to watch that. I definitely have one of my boys who wants to race, and another that could be a crew chief or a racer. Smart kid paying attention to detail, he could really go either way.