Hard work, high-speed rewards for Gifford Brothers Racing
Darkness is just beginning to fall on the rented garage of Gifford Brothers Racing, on Cranberry Highway in West Wareham. Seeing the lights on, multiple drivers honk on the way by, an expression of both greeting and support.
Robby Gifford is holding up a thin sheet of metal—what turns out to be part of the body of the team’s only race car. He shakes his head in mock outrage.
“Another car sheared a hole in the side during a race, so I bought a new piece,” he says. “The next week, the same thing happened.” He points to an identical hole in the current body.
“At this rate you'll have to buy about seven of those to last the season,” says crew chief Wayne Nunes.
Gifford can’t be too disappointed. It’s a new racing season for Ricky Gifford and his brother Robby.
The duo owns Gifford Brothers Racing and have been racing cars along the East Coast for the past two decades. This year, the brothers’ new car has been turning heads at the Seekonk Speedway.
The car (nicknamed “Olivia” by Robbie) has earned four top-five finishes in five races, racing in the “late model” racing division.
“We were a little bit floored...we didn't expect the results we've gotten so quickly,” Ricky says.
The brothers, who grew up in Marion and currently live in Wareham, purchased a new stock frame earlier this year, when their last frame officially reached the point of no return. “Usually,” explains Robby, “you need a few races to get the kinks out, and shake the car down.”
To boot, the team's #5 car had a late start to the season, not starting in a race until late in the summer. So the brothers were shocked when their car went to the front in its very first race. “We were in the stands, looking at each other, and saying, 'Is that our car leading the race?’” Ricky says.
The brothers attribute the car's success to two elements: The first is the team’s driver Tom Scully Jr., who is a leading driver at Seekonk Speedway. The second is the team’s crew chief Wayne Nunes of Dartmouth.
“He really taught us to sit back and don't mess with the formula,” Ricky notes. “We have a lot of enthusiasm, but we don't know a lot. He knows everything.”
Behind him, Nunes laughs. “I always say they know just enough to get themselves in trouble,” he jokes.
“He'll fix one thing and then we don't mess with the car again," Ricky adds. “On the backside, all the other people are constantly fiddling with their cars, trying to improve them. Meanwhile, we're sitting around with burgers and fries.”
Next year's plans hinge on whether Scully Jr. is willing to return to the car. Robby Gifford would like to take the car out to other tracks in New England, particularly in New Hampshire.
There's another option: when a car starts to run well, money offers begin to roll in. Everyone wants a fast car. When asked if they would sell the car, the brothers aren't even sure. “We're just enjoying what's happening now,” Ricky says. “We've worked so hard for so long. We're just enjoying it all.”
Nunes taps his fingers on the hood of the car. “Name your price. I'll buy it from you,” he offers. This leads to a round of jovial ribbing, not uncommon in the Gifford Brothers garage.
In the brothers’ garage, more faces arrive this evening. In this case several mechanics looking to pitch in and fine-tune the car. It's looking for a little TLC after some heavy contact in a recent race.
“Everyone loves to pitch in,” says Ricky's wife Jill, who has also arrived at what is becoming as much a social event as a tune-up session. “They all love being able to say that they have a connection to this car.”
“We always say it, but it's always true,” Robby says as he shines a flashlight on the car. “These cars run on friends. It's the only reason we can do any of this.”
To follow Gifford Brothers Racing, visit the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Gifford-Brothers-Racing.