CHAMPCAR/CART: Richie Hearn Interview

RICHIE HEARN IS THE ONLY CHAMP CAR DRIVER TO HAVE RACED BEFORE HE WAS BORN. PRIOR TO RICHIE HEARN'S RACING CAREER TAKING OFF, ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE FAMILY WAS MAKING A NAME FOR HERSELF IN RACING, RICHIE'S MOTHER, CHRISTY JEFFRIES. THAT WAS,...

RICHIE HEARN IS THE ONLY CHAMP CAR DRIVER TO HAVE RACED BEFORE HE WAS BORN.

PRIOR TO RICHIE HEARN'S RACING CAREER TAKING OFF, ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE FAMILY WAS MAKING A NAME FOR HERSELF IN RACING, RICHIE'S MOTHER, CHRISTY JEFFRIES. THAT WAS, UNTIL RICHIE CAME ALONG.

CHRISTY JEFFRIES- WHAT SERIES OF RACING WERE YOU INVOLVED IN? "I started racing Corvettes in hillclimbs and SCCA Solo I back when I was 18 in 1965 and raced through 1974."

WHY DID YOU STOP RACING? "I was racing hillclimbs and slaloms, with my doctors blessing of course, until I was about five months pregnant. I couldn't race any longer because the seatbelt wouldn't fit around me anymore because Richie was getting too big so I had to stop"

DID ANY OF YOUR FELLOW COMPETITORS GIVE YOU A HARD TIME ABOUT BEING PREGNANT AND DRIVING? "No, I never found a car seat in the back of my car or anything like that. Nobody cared."

WHAT WAS YOUR MEMORY OF RICHIE'S FIRST RACING ASPIRATION? "He went to his first race at six-weeks old. I was getting my Solo I license and I had him in the stroller pushing him around. He would sleep right next to race cars without mufflers on them at Riverside raceway. From the time he began talking, race car was his third word, right after Mom and Dad. Ever since then he wanted to drive race cars."

THEY SAY THAT RACING IS IN THE BLOOD. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LOOK AT THE ANDRETTI'S AND UNSER'S FOR PROOF OF THAT. DO YOU THINK RICHE'S INVOLVEMENT IN RACING IS A DIRECT RESULT OF YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE SPORT? "His father raced also. So, I think it was a combination of the experiences he got from both of us. It may have helped a lot."

RICHIE HEARN - "I don't think there was ever a time when I was not around the cars. Either working on them in the garage or just going to the races. Once that stopped happening, after my dad go rid of the race cars, he immediately got into go-art racing which I spent a lot of time around since about the age of 5. There was never a point that racing was not in my life since the time I was born. It's been there all along"

WHAT KIND OF A RELATIONSHIP DO YOU AND RICHIE SHARE? CHRISTY JEFFRIES continued -"I think we have a pretty good relationship. He was not a hard child to raise. I didn't discipline him much. Well, maybe a couple of times."

DO YOU EVER GIVE RICHIE ADVICE? "Not a bit. He can take care of himself in the car. If there is one thing though, I wish I could be around more though. During RICHIE'S first few years we were building a house and couldn't make it to many of them. I am sorry I missed a lot of it now, but there is nothing I could do."

DO YOU WORRY ABOUT RICHIE MORE OR LESS BECAUSE OF YOUR RACING BACKGROUND? "Well, when I am here I usually like to watch from the pits because I feel close to him there. Well, as close as you can get anyway. If Richie spins out, or hits the wall, I want to know about it right then. With my background, I know what can happen to you in a race car, which in a way is good and bad because it gives me a better understanding of the things that can happen."

ANY ASPIRATIONS OF GETTING BACK IN THE CAR? "Sure. You still feel it once in a while when you get on the freeway on ramp. I enjoyed it a lot."

WHEN THE TWO OF YOU GO PLACES TOGETHER, WHO DRIVES? "Richie does. He likes to scare me. We aren't in the car too much together because he lives in a different state than I do now, but he likes to hang it out and scare me and watch me throw up."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Richie Hearn