Rich Bickle Hopes to Return to Racing at Rockford This Year

Rich Bickle is working out plans to come out of retirement and race at Rockford Speedway one more time this year before the track closes at season's end


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In 2021, Rich Bickle announced his plans to retire from racing following the Snowball Derby. He enjoyed a successful farewell season, with competing with Luke Fenhaus throughout the year for the Slinger Speedway track championship and winning the Joe Shear Classic 200 at Madison International Speedway among the highlights.

It never hurts to ask if he’d ever get back behind the wheel, right? That was the thought process for Jordan Sarr watching Racing America’s broadcast Tuesday night of the Slinger Nationals, where Bickle was announcing alongside Racing America’s Alan Dietz.

“Tony [D’Ambrose], my crew chief, is working on the 23 car [of Levon Van Der Geest] on the pole for the race, but we’ve still got all the cars and all the equipment,” said Bickle on the broadcast. “All it does is take money. I’ve always spent my money, I’m kind of worn out.”

Bickle then went one step further, saying he is hoping to put a deal together to compete at Rockford Speedway one last time before the track closes at the end of the 2023 season, likely during the venue’s signature National Short Track Championships.

“I haven’t let the cat out of the bag, but at Rockford at the end of the year, with it the last year of racing there, I’ve told Sue and Chuck Deery if they want to run Supers, I might have to drag something out and at least run that one race."

Bickle is still working out the specifics of his plans and the schedule for the weekend, but he is exploring several options.

“As of right now, yes, if they have the Supers,” continued Bickle. “Pete from Crazy Times is trying to get the race on Sunday. They’re going to have the Ma Deery [the Jody Deery SLM Showdown], they’re going to have the Supers run Saturday night is what I’ve been told. If someone’s got a Big 8 car that’s good, maybe we can try to get that together and run that, too.”

If BIckle indeed makes his return at Rockford, there will be one part of housekeeping he’ll have to complete. Before his retirement, there was a friendly $1,000 wager between himself and Minnesota racer Dan Fredrickson on whether Bickle could keep himself away from the seat.

“Fredrickson told me he’d bet me $1,000 that I’d be racing again within two years. I’ll get him his $1,000, but he’s going to get it in ones.”

Hearing this, Fredrickson reached out to Dietz and offered a compromise in support of A Race Worth Living, a Minnesota-based organization raising awareness for ALS.

“Tell Rich to just donate my $1,000 to A Race Worth Winning, a group of people up here working for families with ALS.”

Bickle promised that if he races at Rockford, he will honor Fredrickson’s request.

“You’ll have to give me the address. If I run Rockford, I’ll send the money for sure, in your name.”

For now, we'll wait and see if Bickle can indeed make the Rockford return. Rockford is another track where Bickle went to victory lane during the 2021 season. During a pair of 45-lap features held in his honor in October of that year, Bickle won the second race of the night.

-Photo credit: Will Bellamy/Racing America