GALAX – When two people pledge their love and agree to spend a life together, they never quite know what the road ahead holds, especially for couples in which drag racing is involved.
The journey for Ricky and Michelle Furr has been full of life’s typical – and not so typical – ups and downs. With Michelle in the driver’s seat of various hot rods and Ricky crewing her to a respectable amount of NHRA, IHRA and other event wins, they’ve seen a fair amount of “for better” in their marriage.
Last year, however, there was quite a bit of “for worse.” After partnering with Marvin Benoit and Papa Motorsports and debuting the first C7 Corvette Roadster at the tail end of the 2016 season, 2017 followed with one bad break after another. New car blues hit, and, even when those weren’t plaguing the Furrs, they were often headed home early.
“New car blues hit us, silly little things,” Michelle explained. “When it wasn’t anything with the car, it was one of those years where if I had a .001 package, the guy in the other lane had a .000 package. If I had a .010 package, they had a .009 package. It was like that in Super Gas and in the dragster. I really began to doubt myself. Maybe I’d lost it. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.”
By the end of 2017, things began to turn around and Ricky and Michelle prepared for 2018 with high hopes. Then, one week before their season was to begin at the NHRA Divisional at Gainesville Raceway, their world came crashing down.
“You realize what’s really important. I just can’t tell you how blown away I was,” Michelle began. “Ricky was at work when he hurt his arm. He was trying to get a water cut off unstuck with a channel lock. His tendon came loose from the outside of his shoulder and slid down and around, bunched up around his bicep. We went to the ER to see if there was anything they could do because his hand started going numb and his arm was swelling to about two or three times its normal size.”
What should have been a routine diagnosis quickly turned serious.
“They gave him morphine and within two minutes he basically coded. He fell forward, gasped for breath, eyes back in his head. He was convulsing and gray and then stopped breathing. They all came in when I screamed for them and for Ricky. I have never been so scared in my life. They were yelling for Narcan and benadryl. They couldn’t find his pulse and hooked him up to so many machines and leads. Then he started breathing slowly but all his stats were so low. Finally, he began to get some color.
“I realize how precious every moment is now.”
After quite literally meeting death, the Furrs were ready for a new lease on life. And racing. After all they’d been through, Ricky and Michelle were ready for a break from their troubles. But it wasn’t coming just yet.
With Ricky on the mend from his morphine reaction and an assurance from the doctor that his tendon injury wouldn’t get worse, they left Virginia and headed to Florida. But the jack on their RV wouldn’t retract. The heat wouldn’t work. They made it to Georgia only to have the jake brake break and the RV refuse to move over 50 MPH.
Finally, they rolled into Gainesville Raceway at 8:30 before time trials began at 9. They managed to get parked, unloaded and teched and were ready to get their brand new engine and Super Gas combination to the track.
“After all that, we went down there and ran a 9.900 first pass out. We were elated. It was such a relief.
“Our partners have supported us through thick and thin and helped us make it back out to the track. We couldn’t do this without Quick Fuel Technology, Ohio Crankshaft, BMP Products, Lucas Oil, K&N Filters, Goodyear, Moser, Comp Cams, ATM Innovations, Trick Flow, Abruzzi Transmissions and Reid Racing.”
While things were temporarily looking up in Super Gas, the throttle stop line came off the dragster and Michelle ended up missing both time runs in Super Comp. The Super Gas Corvette Roadster continued to be consistent and Michelle worked her way through the first four rounds of competition. There was yet one more thing to go wrong.
“We lost all the teeth off the flywheel. The car would heat so fast I had to cut the car off through the light. They would push me back to the pit. They were having to try to turn the motor by hand. In the final, John Sikish was trying to turn the motor, but he couldn’t do it and Brad Plourd got it turned enough that it fired. The guy that I ran is an awesome guy. He sat there waited on me. I took some deep breaths and I had the tree in final. I was .003 on the tree, dead on with a 2. He was .010, dead on with an 8.
“When I pulled off top end, the whole week just hit me. I sat in that car and bawled like a baby.”
The curse had lifted. Ricky and Michelle had defeated all the odds, bounced back from a near-death experience and rose victorious.
As if on auto-pilot, Michelle followed up her Divisional win with another final round finish at the Gatornationals the following weekend.
“I think that experience changes you,” Michelle confided. “It takes you off the chip; you’re a little more laid back because you don’t sweat the small stuff as much.”
With an incredible start to the year, Michelle will continue chasing the Division 2 and National points.
Ricky and Michelle will celebrate 31 years of marriage this year, and there is certainly much to celebrate.
Ricky and Michelle also thank partners Jegs, Jesel, Simpson, RCI, Suncoast, Aerospace, Hawk, Moroso, Computech, JW Performance, TurboStart, PowerMaster, Digital Delay, Holley Products, Alto Red Eagle, DEI, NGK, Drag Race Solutions, Autometer, Melling and Wiseco.
After the incredible, albeit tumultuous, start to the season, Ricky unfortunately had a second trip to the ER, then later underwent surgery to repair his arm. Michelle also had to have surgery on her chin. They rolled into GALOT Motorsports Park last weekend for an NHRA Division 2 event and were met with still more adversity. Someone drove a motorhome over the front end of their dragster. And yet they maintained focus and followed up with another final round in Super Comp. That makes Michelle three for three in final rounds this season.
For better or worse, through thick and thin Ricky and Michelle Furr stand by each other and make a formidable team. This season is just getting started and while they are no doubt praying for a break from the difficulties that have plagued them, Ricky and Michelle sit in a great position to pursue an NHRA Championship.
“God is so good,” Michelle said with certainty. “We have been through it, but we feel so blessed. It’s been crazy and we’re a little exhausted, but everyone is healthy and we’re having the ride of a lifetime right now. We’re going to keep pressing forward.”