Rick Muther, from 1966 Canadian-American Challenge Cup brouchure
Brouchure Courtesy of Mick Johnson
Born: Aug. 13, 1936,
Rick Muther was a private man with a passion for life, and the two things he loved most were surfing and racing. Rick is best known for his many years as a driver in the Indycar series during the ’70s.
Rick was a respected driver, one that car owners could trust with their machines. One year at the California 500, Rick drove A.J. Foyt’s backup car from near the back of the back and ended up passing about 24 cars before having the clutch start to slip. Rick brought the Coyote DOHC Foyt-Ford into the garage are so as to not ‘hurt’ the car, as A.J. had told him before the race to not hurt the car.
Rick started racing in his Porsche 1600 Speedster in CSCC amatuer events on the west coast of the US, and moved on to a Lotus 23B and Lola T70 in USRRC sports car races in the early and mid-60s. He was the SCCA 1964 champ for F-modified.
Rick is believed to have been at the wheel of the Willment Lotus 30 when it made its appearance at Riverside, California for the 1965 L.A. Times Grand Prix. At the start of one of the 2 Sunday races, Rick was caught up in a first lap (first corner?) pile-up that took several cars out of the event. The tail of the Willment car was damaged in this accident, and the original fibreglass was replace with a hinged rear. Not only was the rear hinged for easier access to the car’s mechanicals, but a ‘boat tail’ shape replaced the tear-drop design of the factory car. Because of this accident, the Willment car is believed to be unique in the look of the rear body panel.
Driving for Shelby
Rick drove one of Carroll Shelby’s Daytona Coupes at the 1965 Daytona 2000 km race. Rick and co-driver John Timanus raced the Cobra to finish in 4th place overall, 2nd in their GT+3.0 class. This race appears to have been a major milestone in Rick’s career, and Rick was really excited to be driving the Cobra. Rick had said that he was really impressed with the Cobra’s top end, and that is coming from a driver that was used to 1,000 HP turbo Offenhauser engine powered cars.
Rick moved into USAC Indycars in the late ’60s, which he raced through the following decade. He made 9 attemps for the Indy 500, qualifying for 3 races at the Brickyard in 1970, ’71, and ’74. His best finish was his rookie year where qualified 15th and then went on to finish a very respectable 8th place, being only 3 laps behind winner Al Unser in the first of his back-to-back wins with his Parnelli Jones Johnny Lightning Special. Rick and current IRL team owner Dick Simon lost out to Donnie Allison, who finished 4th that year, for Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. Rick finished 18th and 24th at Indy in 1971 and ’74 respectively.
A racer through and through, one night when Rick had the chance to drive a sprint car for a few laps around Ascot Park, he jumped at it. Rick had always wanted to race a sprint car, but it was forbidden by USAC rules. Rick took off and turned a few laps and ended up with a time that would have been good for 6th quickest of the night. It is said that when Rick got out of that car, he had the biggest grin on his face!
Rick was an intense and very hyper guy, with a zest for life. When away from the race track, Rick could be found in his Indycar steering wheel equiped, 350 CID Corvette engined, 4-speed Chevy pick-up while wearing his favorite Hawaiian shirt and cut-offs, driving around the shores of Laguna Beach. Rick had zero tolerance with fools, crowds, and Sunday drivers. So when he failed to qualify for the 1980 Indy 500, Rick went down to Costa Rica to enjoy his second love, surfing.
After splitting from his wife, Rick moved to Washington State. It is believed that Rick passed away in 1996.
A very incomplete racing history –
1965 Daytona 2000 km – 4th place. Co-driver – John Timanus, Shelby Cobra Daytona CSX2602 317 laps. 2nd palce in GT+3.0 class
1967 Can-Am series, finished 15th overall driving a Lola T70
Indy 500 Results
1970 Finished: 8th, Started: 15th, Car #38, The Tony Express/Two Jacks, Hawk II/Offy, 165.650 mph 197 laps
1971 Finished: 21st, Started: 18th, Car #38, Arkansas Aviation/Two Jacks, Hawk II/Offy, 169.970 mph, Crashed, 85 laps
1974 Finished: 27th, Started: 24th, Car #61, Eisenhour-Brayton Racing, Coyote/Foyt, 179.990 mph, Piston, 11 laps
Everett Brown, personal e-mails, March 2002