Josh Rice believes North-South 100 will one day fall his way

Josh Rice

When Florence Speedway is mentioned in any Dirt Late Model racing conversation, a name that is almost certain to come up is that of Josh Rice. And with good reason as the 24-year-old driver has proven his prowess on the Union, Kentucky half-mile multiple times in recent history. As a matter of fact, the No. 11 Rocket Chassis has pulled into victory lane at the end numerous big features staged at that track over the past couple of years … except one.

The Verona, Kentucky driver has won Florence’s Ralph Latham Memorial in each of the past two season and was this year’s victor in that track’s Spring 50. And more, he proved to be a man of all seasons in 2021 when he triumphed in the Fall 50.

Florence Speedway, however, also hosts one of Dirt Late Model racing’s crown jewel events each August when the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series rolls into the ‘Bluegrass State’ to sanction the North-South 100. As yet, Rice has not been able to capture the checkered flag at that event but he very much intends to keep trying.

“It’s our race,” Rice told prior to the running of Saturday’s Butterball Woolridge Memorial at Richmond Raceway. “That’s the one we want to win. We’ve won everything else there, the Fall 50, the Spring 50, the Latham. It’s one we’ve got on our calendar every year to be ready for.”

Unfortunately, circumstances did not play in Rice’s favor leading into the most recent running of that coveted race.

“On Monday(before the N-S 100), we fired the motor up and we realized something wasn’t right so we had to take it out,” Rice explained. “That kind of screwed up our whole weekend. We went over the car a hundred times and we had it ready but when we were doing our final checks before we loaded up we found that motor problem. But it is what it is and that’s just part of it.”

The fact that virtually every top star in Dirt Late Model racing names Rice as a potential threat to win when any race takes place at Florence is a fact the Verona, Kentucky native finds gratifying. And it isn’t just competitors who take note of this driver’s abilities on the northern Kentucky track.

“It’s pretty cool,” Rice acknowledged. “We sucked last weekend, we weren’t very good. Like I said, we had a motor go out on us as we were getting ready to load up and we had to switch motors. It’s pretty neat though, especially all the fans and everything. We set a record last weekend at the T-shirt trailer. It’s definitely pretty cool and I just wish we had put on a better show.”

With so much riding on that one race for Rice and his team and the fact that it only comes around once each year, it is disappointing when he doesn’t run well. But there should be other opportunities for the young driver to fulfill that dream.

“It sucks because I really feel like this was going to be our year to have a shot at it but we totally blew it,” he stated. “I wrecked in a heat race and we had to start at the tail of the B-main. We didn’t really make the race, we had to use a provisional. But there are more years, I’m only 24 so I’ll get to run it a few more times but it’s definitely the one I want to win.”

Josh Rice seems to always be in the mix at Florence

But Rice more than a one trick pony. He has won races at other venues. So far in 2022, he has won at Ohio’s Atomic Speedway as well as at Ponderosa Speedway and Richmond Raceway in his home state.

So how does Rice define success in racing?

“We go to the 10 grand races at Ponderosa and this 20 grand here(Richmond), so success, I don’t know,” he answered. “We made about 100 grand last year which is pretty good for us. We don’t really race that much, we get out sometimes but we don’t run these big races every weekend. Last weekend(at Florence) they were asking me how I was going to make 100 laps and I was like, ‘I don’t know because the last race I ran 100 laps in was last year’s North-South’. It’s definitely cool for us to go win these 10 granders. I remember back in the day when it was huge for us to win those races but now I feel like we’ve got a shot just about everywhere we go.”

If everything fell into place in just the right way, Rice would consider branching out and racing further from home.

“It would have to be the right opportunity because I’m blessed with a really good job(with DHL). It would be hard to leave it without the right opportunity but this is what I want to do so if the right opportunity comes around I’m definitely going to take it.”

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