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DragChamp Racer Spotlight: Rick Baehr

Slick Rick Baehr who is known for his bottom bulb talents leaves no question unanswered during the Racer Spotlight.

SMYRNA, TN – Born in Ohio and now living in Tennessee, Rick Baehr can be found all over the country chasing big checks. He was introduced to the sport at a young age by his mother and grandfather. Throughout 22 years of competition he has found success in many classes and multiple vehicles. Although Rick certainly has a soft spot for his first love, the 1984 Chevrolet Camaro he purchased in 1998.

Between working full time as an engineer, organizing his race schedule, and spending time with his family, Baehr stays busy. Luckily, he made time to chat with DragChamp and answer all of our burning questions.

Learn more about Rick Baehr in the following Q&A.

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First, tell us what you do for a living.

I am a Mechanical Engineer by trade, who has spent a few years in engineering leadership. I made a career change recently and I’m now working as a Technical Sales Engineer for Knight Ergonomics and Assembly Systems.

Now can you provide a little history of your racing career? Where do you normally race and in what class?

I have raced everything from Stock/Super Stock Eliminator, to Super Comp/Super Street, to No Box/Footbrake and even Top bulb (off the bottom). 

My local tracks are US 43 Dragway, Music City Raceway and Buffalo Valley Dragway.  However, I typically focus on events advertising a winner’s purse greater than $2,500 which will usually take me several hours from home.  In the last five years, I have competed on a truncated schedule comprised of 10-15 weekend events throughout the season. I have also been working on career development, home projects and spending precious time with my young girls.  So I try to pick events that have the potential to provide the most bang for my buck.

Rick Baehr camaro
Rick Baehr in his Chevrolet Camaro
Let’s hear all about your race car.

I have owned my 84 Chevy Camaro since 1998 (22 years).  I purchased it as a bone stock street car and have spent significant time and effort making it as comfortable as possible. It is a mini-tubbed, ladder bar car with a 427 small block Chevy, Powerglide transmission and Ford 9-inch rear end. It has Santhuff shocks up front and Afcos in the rear. I have 12-inch wide Mickey Thompson rims wrapped with the best tire money can buy (Team M/T)! 

The car runs 6.20s at around 110 mph in the eighth-mile and 9.80s at about 135 mph in the quarter-mile. It’s also my favorite car. I have way too much blood, sweat, tears and money invested in her.

Rick Baehr lists his major racing accomplishments:
  • 2005 IHRA No Box World Champion
  • 2005 Norwalk Raceway turn-key dragster winner
  • Two-time IHRA National Event winner
    • 2007 in Stock Eliminator
    • 2012 in Hot Rod
  • Two-time NHRA National Event winner
    • 2009 in Stock Eliminator
    • 2016 in Super Stock
  • Four-time IHRA Divisional Event winner
  • Two-time IHRA Bracket Finals winner
  • numerous bracket race victories with $5,000 to $15,000 purses
rick baehr 06 IHRA bracket finals winner
What is on your bucket list or what goals do you hope to achieve? 

I would like to win any one of the following: the GABR Guaranteed Million, the SFG Million, SFG 500, or the BTE Labor Day 100K footbrake race.  Ultimately, I just want to keep having fun, spending time with racing friends and competing at the highest level possible.

Who has made the biggest impact on your racing success?

My mother, Colleen, and my wife, Sarah. Without my mom’s introduction into the sport and my wife’s continued support there is no way I could enjoy this sport as much as I do.  I love having the family “team” behind me cheering me on. 

Other than racing, how do you spend your free time?

Spending time with Sarah and the kids. Usually things like camping, going to the beach, playing games, going for walks…

rick baehr daughter jegs magazine
Rick has help deciding what parts to order from JEGS.
Who do you look up to in the sport?

Luke Bogacki, Scotty Richardson, and Edmond Richardson. Luke helped guide me early on with how to market myself and conduct myself win or lose. I have a lot of respect for the “Cool Hand”.  I’ve also watched Edmond and Scotty probably more than anyone. I have crafted some of my racing techniques after the things I have watched and observed from them over the years.

Is there anyone you hate to see in the other lane? Why?

Chris Plott, Nasty Nick Hastings, and Brian Cireddu. Although, I have had average success against each of them over the years. I just look at these guys as a “coin flip” round, and my track record of winning coin flips is not even close to 50/50.

One of Baehr’s many big checks
How do you support your racing? Do you have any sponsors or partners? Maybe a side hustle?

The primary stimulus to my racing working capital is from my career earnings. I race within my means until I am able to hit pay-dirt on a decent sized event. Once that occurs, I parlay that money to fund my remaining racing season off of race winnings.

In your opinion, what’s the hardest part of drag racing?

The mental part.  Once you land in a rut, you need to keep making laps until you find your way back out of it.

What’s your most embarrassing moment in a race car?

It was at the 2017 World Footbrake Challenge. During second round of a gamblers race, I decked the gas as the first yellow bulb lit (while stalled up), forgetting I was footbraking and not no-boxing.  Naturally, the car lurched and the ol’ LB3A appeared. It was just terrible.

Do you say anything to yourself just before you stage the car?

No. At that point, I am laser focused on what I need to do. Whether that is making myself comfortable in the seat or controlling my breathing. Now in the water box is a different story. I am mainly telling myself not to “suck” and getting amped up for an exciting burnout.

Are you superstitious? Any examples?

Not much anymore, but I still have a couple things that venture above and beyond what I would call standard routine. I always like to park on the right hand side of my trailer and I typically take the same exact path to the staging lanes every round.

What do you enjoy most at the racetrack?

The friendships and the competition. I love to lock horns with the best drivers in the business (preferably in the later rounds).  I have a great mutual respect for each of them, but love to see where I stack up when the time comes for us to go at it.

Do you love to win or hate to lose?

YES.

rick baehr 07 canadian nationals win mustang
Are you better on the starting line or finish line?

Starting line.

How often do you use a practice tree?

I used to hit the tree religiously, 1,000 plus hits a week. Then kids entered into the picture eight years ago and life changed, so maybe less than 100 hits per week now.

What motivates you to continue racing?

The challenge and the adrenaline created by the intense moments leading up to and during the big money rounds on an event.

Imagine you just won the lottery. What would your racing operation look like?

I would probably own a dragster, just to toy around with. I’d absolutely own a NHRA SS Copo Camaro. I would certainly update my motorhome and trailer. Honestly, the motorhome probably needs to be done sooner than later anyway!

rick baehr dragster
Rick has wheeled a few dragsters, too!
What is your favorite thing to eat?

Texas Roadhouse. I’ll order a 6 ounce sirloin, cooked medium, and chicken finger combo. Along with a salad with ranch dressing and fries with cheese and bacon. 

Name one thing that most people don’t know about you.

I could never just race for a living. Racing is my escape from everyday life. As soon as it turns into a job or a burden, from racing three or four days a week, I have to take a break and re-charge my batteries. This way it keeps me sharp, fresh and having fun.

What are you really good at?

Cutting a transbrake button loose off the bottom bulb. (DragChamp fact check: statement checks out).

rick baehr ohio state buckeyes
Rick Baehr, aka the Buckeye’s biggest fan!
Fast Facts and Favorites:
  • Daily driver is a 2006 Pontiac G6
  • Spends most internet time on Facebook
  • Rick’s favorites are
    • Movie – Days of Thunder
    • Music – Country
    • Sport – College Football
    • Team – Ohio State Buckeyes
Who would you like to thank?

I am extremely thankful to all the great companies, current and past, that have helped me and my racing program develop throughout my 22 year racing career. 

My current marketing partners are Mickey Thompson Tires and Wheels, Trick Flow Specialties, and FTI Performance. 

Other great companies who I have had great relationships with in the past are APD Racing, Abruzzi Transmission, JEGS High Performance, Milodon, Harland Sharp, K&N Engineering, and Nitroplate.

For more DragChamp Racer Spotlight articles check this out. Or if you’d like to catch up on the latest bracket racing news, click here.

Jessica-Hicks-image

Jessica was born into a family of drag racers and fell in love with the sport at a young age. She began competing at 13 and has been hooked ever since! She even met her soon-to-be husband at the World Footbrake Challenge VII. Jessica works full time as an Ultrasound Technologist but spends almost every weekend chasing win lights at IHRA and NHRA bracket races.

You can contact her at Jessica@dragchamp.com or on her Facebook page.

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