Lorenzo Ritchey passed through this life early Thursday, morning March 4, 2021, at 88 years old. Known to fans in this region as race car driver Junior Ritchey, he left his mark as an intense racer that gave a little and took a little when the circumstance called for it. Amazing how life lines up for some individuals when their talents are confronted with opportunity. In 1955 Jr. purchases a new car and then learns about a new racetrack in his hometown of Everett. He & a friend tried out the 1/4 mile in his street car and are soon convinced Jr had natural ability and was fearless behind the wheel. He won that opening race at South Penn Speedway, and many more after that. As the open wheel cars evolved through the years from basic stocks, to home-made modifieds, to sleek sprint cars, June adapted and still won. Normally driving the legendary # 880, either for himself or for well-known owner Roy Morral, many of his loyal crewman stuck with him for his entire career. Jr Ritchey was South Penn’s first superstar. He was a fan favorite by many and villainized by a few, but that comes from winning in dominating fashion at times. In 1963 the team ventured east and soon won races and garnered fans with his uniquely appearing car called, the match box. Jr showed the racing community that someone who cut their teeth on a 1/4 mile bullring could win on the big 1/2 miles like the Groove and Port. By the early 70’s Jr took a hiatus for a half dozen years and appeared to be retired. But when Roy Morral tackled late-model racing in 1978 Jr pulled on the helmet once again and brushed off the rust by winning the feature his first night out at Bedford.
In these two excellent Dave Singer photos Jr and the #880 team pull in the old west gate for a race during the Bedford Fair. Jr is then shown powering the immaculate blue sprint off the 2nd turn with the carnival on the midway as a backdrop. In this particular race he started 16th in the feature and finished 5th against a stellar field.