Richard Childress Racing
July 24, 2013
RCR Crew Member Spotlight: Ray Wright
Former college baseball standout now heads up RCR's strength and conditioning program.
A passion for baseball and a background in strength training led No. 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rear-tire carrier Ray Wright down an unsuspecting path to the world of NASCAR.
Growing up in Charlotte Hall, Md., Wright’s life revolved around the stick and ball sport of baseball. As a child, he spent the majority of his time on a baseball field with his father and had no interest in other sports, especially auto racing.
A high-school baseball standout, Wright went on to play junior college baseball in Florida before transferring to play for Louisiana State University (LSU) in 2000 and 2001. While at LSU, the Maryland native had an interest in strength training and took several elective strength and conditioning classes. Upon graduation, Wright played independent league baseball for the Baton Rouge (La.) Blue Marlins and the Washington (Pa.) Wild Things.
Following his stint in the independent league, Wright was offered a job as an assistant baseball coach for Forsyth Country Day School in Winston-Salem, N.C., an opportunity that would later change his career path forever. While at Forsyth Country Day School, Wright not only coached baseball, but he also taught strength and conditioning classes.
"I was coaching and teaching classes and two of the students I was training just happened to be Richard Childress’ grandsons Austin and Ty Dillon," Wright said. "They were good students and I guess they told their dad (Mike Dillon, Vice President of Competition at RCR) that they liked my workouts. RCR was in the middle of making a change in their strength program and the next thing I knew, I was offered a job as the strength and conditioning coach."
Initially hired as strictly a strength coach, Wright eventually became a rear-tire changer through an unusual set of circumstances.
"I was training the pit crew guys and the workouts were very difficult for them compared to what they had done in the past," Wright explained. "They started mocking me and saying I didn’t understand what they did and that I couldn’t do their jobs if I wanted to. So, I took that as a challenge and I started to pick up tires and hang them. I got pretty decent at it and I started carrying tires for an ARCA (Racing Series presented by Menards) race team. Then I carried for some (NASCAR) Nationwide Series races and a couple of Sprint Cup Series races before I was hired as a full-time rear-tire carrier for the No. 27 team in 2011."
Wright is currently in his third-full season with Paul Menard and the No. 27 Menards Chevrolet. When asked about his favorite racing memory over the past three years, it’s only fitting heading into the Brickyard 400 this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway he said, "It’s definitely got to be kissing the bricks in my first season as a pit crew member with Paul Menard, at one of the most historic race tracks on the circuit."