This inductee into the Racingkc.com Hall of Fame burst on the scene in 1984 by winning his first race at Lakeside Speedway the Winston 50. He repeated the win in 1985 driving the number 4 Chevrolet Camaro – the inductee none other than Doug Richards. He owned his own business in 1983 at 65th and Kaw Drive. He met Max Grogan and wanted to drive Max’s car in 1983, but Max said no we will build you a racecar this winter. So he goes out and wins his first race. Also in 1984 he met a lifelong friend in Gene Claxton.
He started out the 1985 racing season by winning the Winston 50 as stated above, but oh what a great year, he won his one and only championship at Riverside Stadium. To think at the half point of the season he was leading the points and almost quit racing. Hoss Harkness basically told him he could not quit he was the leader at the half way point of the season and could easily be the champion. His goal was accomplished racing against the likes of Pat Gann and Kevin Pike, two guys at the time which probably despised his driving and winning. Now 21 years later they are the best of friends.
In 1986, Doug conquered the high banks of I-70 Speedway running against the wall on the dirt. What people did not know was the night before he had blown the number 1 motor at Lakeside Speedway. He led the first 18 laps when a yellow came out. In the turns he would swerve the car to see who was behind him, Joe Kosiski, Steve Kosiski, Gene Claxton, and Rick Beebe. He just knew they would blow past him on the restart, but continuing on the high line giving his motor all it could take led him to the checkered flag. I-70 Speedway became his favorite track both dirt and asphalt.
In 1989, like everyone in the area he made the switch to asphalt, racing at Lakeside Speedway and I-70 Speedway.
Doug was a reason I had to call NASCAR for guidance one year. He started a 100-lap race in a borrowed car, a Ford, when the rains came on lap 4. On Monday, he called and asked what if he got his car a Chevrolet back together. I called NASCAR guru Jerry Cook for guidance and Jerry advised since the cars were not impounded how would we know if Doug had not had an accident lost the Ford and bought a new car the Chevrolet and brought it to the track. So, Doug restarted the race a week later in his number 4 Chevrolet.
Doug has always had an ability to meet the stars in our sport. He competed against Larry Phillips and drove one of his cars. Larry leaned into the substitute driver and told him you don’t race to win remember you are here for car count only. Larry and Doug shared the same birthday only Larry was 10 years older. Larry appreciated Doug to the point he took Doug to a NASCAR banquet at Nashville.
Davey Allison drove Doug’s racecar at Lakeside Speedway when the Cup guys would come and compete in a special race. Davey told Doug, “Dude driving your car is like driving a sofa”. Only later would Doug realize what Davey was telling him.
Doug also has one of Carl Edwards famous business cards. He came into the Richards trailer at Mosby and introduced himself to Doug and gave him a card. At the time both Doug and Jake, his son, thought what arrogance of Carl to hand out a card. Now if only Doug could remember where he left that card. Carl always takes the time to say hi to Doug when they see each other at a racetrack.
Doug has received driving tips and compliments from John O’Neal Sr., Richard Petty, and Jimmy Hensley. Over the years, Doug was just a magnet for racers to help him. One year he received assistance from Rick Crawford at I-70 Speedway. Crawford was out on lap 4 so he and his crew helped Doug. At the first yellow a large sign said #4 pit, so Doug pitted. New tires went on and Doug finished in the top 5 with 2 new sets of tires. After the race, he told Crawford he did not have the money to pay him for the tires and Rick said that is fine we called you in but I want my wheels back off your car.
Doug switched to being a Dad when second generation racer, Jake turned 16 and began competing in the Pony Stocks. This father son team led to two Factory Stock Championships at Lakeside Speedway. When Jake moved to modifieds, this father son team went to Bethany Missouri and competed on Labor Day weekend. Jake won that race, beating Dean Wray, Doug was excited because the track configuration reminded him of Riverside Stadium.
Doug has been a Kansas City racing fixture for several years. We share some of the same memories, some of the memories while in the capacity of official/racer, some because we were tied together because of our sport. Doug has been an integral part of the Kansas City racing community. Congrats Doug on being a Hall of Famer!