Hard work, high-speed rewards for Gifford Brothers Racing

By Andrea Ray | Oct 09, 2017
Photo by: Andrea Ray Ricky Gifford, Wayne Nunes and Robbie Gifford in front of the Gifford Brothers Racing racecar, which is partially disassembled to prepare for the car's next race.

Wareham — 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.

Ricky 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.

"One car sheared a hole in the side during a race, so I bought a new piece," he says. "The next week, the same thing happens." 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," crew chief Wayne Nunes jokes from behind him.

Gifford can't be too disappointed. It's a new season for Gifford Brothers Racing, headed up by Robby Gifford and his brother Ricky.  The team has a new car, and with that comes new results. The car (nicknamed "Olivia" by Robby) has earned four top-five finishes in five races, racing in the "late model" racing division.

Gifford Brothers Racing is receiving more notice at Seekonk Speedway this year than either brother was anticipating. "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," says 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.

Their friend Lisa Clayton, who has also come by the shop, laughs. "I'm pretty sure I heard a downright scream of excitement from somebody," she says of that race.

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," Robby says of Nunes. "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. Ricky 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," Robby 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.

Darkness shortly begins to fall on the brothers' rented garage. With it come more faces, 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 Robby's wife Jill, who has also arrived at what is becoming as much a social event as a mechanic session. "They all love to be able to say that they have a connection to this car."

"We always say it, but it's always true," Ricky 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 the Gifford Brothers Racing, visit the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Gifford-Brothers-Racing.

 

The Gifford Brothers Racing #5 car leading the field in a race on October 7. (Photo by: Lisa Clayton)
The team with the racecar at Seekonk Speedway, before a race on October 7. (Photo by: Lisa Clayton)
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