Bobby Joe Rippey has been around racing his entire life.
His dad, Robert, raced and Rippey actually started building and fabricating when he was nine-years-old. He learned to use a torch and welder and “became pretty decent. I worked at a couple of race shops and owned one. But nothing compares to racing.”
Rippey has been racing since 1997. Since then, he’s been dominating his competition all over the Middle Tennessee area. Rippey, known as the “Quarter Mile King,” has laid claim to over 80 feature wins and now four division titles during his career. In 2013, Bobby Joe won the first four Super Street features of the season, giving him a large points cushion and ultimately catapulting him to another title.
“I started in Pure Stock and won Rookie of the Year, he said. “The next year, I won the championship. After that, it was all over with. I’ve always given 100 percent in my racing career.”
These days, Ripey runs in the Sportsman division at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. He had run the division once before when it was called Street Modified and on the big track.
Rippey said the “competitiveness makes him get out and race every time the green flag drops. I love it. It’s all I’ve ever known sports-wise since high school.”
Ever since he began racing, Rippey has had a loyal fan base. He said it’s because, “I just drive the way people want to see a show put on. But I go for the win every week. If not, I don’t want to go out there.”
Rippey, who is nearing 52 years old, said he doesn’t know “how many more seasons I have left in me. But my grandson, Maddox Wllis, will be a wheel man.” Maddox is five months old. “I’m starting him early, but I believe I still have a few years left. As long as I feel good and can be competitive and winning races, I’ll be going to the track.”
Asphalt is all Rippey has ever driven on, but dirt intrigues him, he said.
“I thought about trying it, but I never had the car for it,” he said. “If I borrowed someone else’s car, I’d probably tear it up and would have to fix it. I would like to try it though.”
Nashville isn’t the only track Rippey’s piloted a car around. He’s been to Highland Rim Speedway, Beech Bend at Bowling Green, Ky., Carthage (Tenn.), Owensboro, Ky. and more. He’d like to go to Salem, Ind. and a few other tracks in the Southeast.
Rippey credits his crew, Roger Phelps, and Kenny and David Brown, with helping him capture win after win. He knows the importance of a good crew. After all, he’s won five or six championships as a crew chief for other drivers.
Rippey still builds cars for other people and likes to help the driver come up through the ranks.
“I like to see how they do and I’ve been pretty successful,” he said.
Rippey’s sponsors are KJH Interior Design, Full Throttle Race Parts, Brown’s Paint and Body, Hee Haw Fireworks, the Batter’s Box and Grill, Steven Johnson (his car owner), Zach Johnson and Metropolitan Property Management.
Rippey said he’d like to thank “the people who have encouraged me over the years. People like Macey Briley Jr and Bubba Formosa. I could go all day with people who have helped out. Watching Macey and Bubba race made me want to get into it more. I also had childhood heroes like Tony and Nicky Formosa and Phil Stillings. I grew up watching them. They were my heroes and have made me the driver I am today.”