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Kids, racing keep local dentist going
by Dan McGee
Dec 19, 2010 | 1733 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Dan McGee - Dr. Richard "Rico" Adams, a racing dentist, sits in his clutch kart he sometimes races with the NNKC. To his right is the 125-shifter kart he raced this past season and will campaign in 2011.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Dr. Richard "Rico" Adams, a racing dentist, sits in his clutch kart he sometimes races with the NNKC. To his right is the 125-shifter kart he raced this past season and will campaign in 2011.
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Tribune/Dan McGee - Rico Adams holds the intake tubes for the motor on the flat-bottom alcohol drag boat he's having built. Besides racing karts with the NNKC, he's dabbling in the exciting world of 160 mph drag-boat racing.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Rico Adams holds the intake tubes for the motor on the flat-bottom alcohol drag boat he's having built. Besides racing karts with the NNKC, he's dabbling in the exciting world of 160 mph drag-boat racing.
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Tribune/Dan McGee - Rico Adams picks both front wheels off the ground while going over Turn 5 during a 125-shifter heat race at Desert Park Raceway this past spring.
Tribune/Dan McGee - Rico Adams picks both front wheels off the ground while going over Turn 5 during a 125-shifter heat race at Desert Park Raceway this past spring.
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VERDI - Racing draws people from many different backgrounds, from blue collar to professional. No matter where they come from everyone soon finds there not only the thrill of competition but new friends and comrades that have a shared passion.

One professional is Doctor Richard "Rico," Adams, a pediatric dentist in Reno. And like many, racing has been part of his life for many years.

"I've always enjoyed motor sports, when I was younger and all through high school I raced motocross and desert racing pretty successfully in Nevada and Northern California," he said. "I was born in Reno and graduated from Reno High School in 1979"

During his school years, he participated in ski racing and even hockey when it was played at the convention center. He began to motocross when he was either 15 or 16 years old, which by current standards is a bit late.

"The kids now are starting so much younger and they could have beaten me back then as they are just so fast," he said. "I believe the first motorcycle I raced was a RM125 Suzuki, then I had a Husky 125 and raced in quite a few classes over the year."

He, like most competitors, found that his first race was a bit different than he anticipated.

"It's interesting because I always practiced a lot on the track but when you throw 20 other people on there with you at the same, well that's the part I didn't really expect," he said. "And for the desert racing the part I didn't expect was they're long, long and grueling. My first race was very tiring and as I recall I didn't fare as well but it was fun."

Adams is an avid outdoorsman and an accomplished, life long hunter. That passion has taken him to many parts of the world and this country. So it's not surprising that as a teenager he had a business tying fishing flies.

And that business is what led him to become a dentist.

As Adams explained that his orthodontist, after seeing his flies, commented he had good hands and might consider becoming a dentist.

"So I said 'OK' as it seemed I would earn more money than trying to become a professional motorcycle racer," he said.

After high school Adams attended the University of Oregon at Eugene. He raced for just a bit then stopped due to his studies and after graduating he headed north to Portland and dental school.

Returning to Reno he worked for a year as general dentist then a meeting set him on his present course.

Describing what happened Adams said, "I went out to lunch with Mike Stoker, then we went to his office, which is now mine and I saw all the kids, all pretty, having fun. Then Mike said, 'all this can be yours,' so I said OK."

After making some calls it was back to Portland for two years of residency then he returned to Reno where he partnered with Stoker and his daughter Nicole, who is also a dentist, at the Smile Shop. And he's been working on children's teeth for the past 20-years.

Adams still had the racing itch and began to compete with speedway bikes in Auburn. It's a hazardous racing, fast motorcycles on a very tight oval, and he soon realized that he'd get hurt if he continued.

Then he met the current flagman for the Northern Nevada Kart Club, Dave Brant.

"He'd always come in and had a little cool kid," Adams said. "Brant would say 'Dr. Adams you need to come and watch me and you need to drive a kart.'"

Finally after a few years Adams did just that and thought kart racing looked kind of cool. Then he jumped off the deep end and bought a 125-shifter kart to practice with.

"So I went out here and tried that for a couple of months and said, 'no way.' Then I got the TAG kart with a Rotax motor and practiced like crazy with that."

A 125-shifter kart is the fastest raced at Desert Park Raceway and one has to be very focused when driving as things happen very fast. Like a clutch kart, shifters have a brake and gas pedal, but they have a six-speed transmission that's operated by two levers on each side of the steering wheel.

"It's definitely rubbing patting your head, rubbing your tummy and hoping on one foot all at the same time," he said. "A shifter is much more difficult, everything is happening a lot faster, you're going a lot faster and you're constantly having to do something."

The Rotax kart, and as Adams explained a racer can really concentrate on their lines and driving.

Adams kept practicing and raced at the end of the 2007 season then in 2008 he competed in every event and won the class championship.

"Then half-way through that year I got another 125 shifter kart and it was back to the drawing board again," he said. "I finally got fast with it as Mitch Kennedy and Mark Nason practiced with me and helped quite a bit."

While the 125 class faded away a few years ago, due to Kennedy's efforts it's making a come back. One thing that has impressed Adams is that all the current competitors, with one exception had been champions in one class or another.

This year Adams has concentrated on the 125 and only raced his TAG kart a few times during the season.

"I did the tune up race in my TAG kart," he said. "They lumped TAG masters and senior together and I won the masters and qualified number one. And I raced a clone race too."

Going from what he's been racing to a Clone, that usually has 10 or less horsepower, was very different.

"It was ridiculous, I was thinking I could have a cup of coffee and just drink it down the straightaway," he said. "Clone racing was fun because the camaraderie was more than in any other class. Becky baked me cookies, Travis helped me set up my kart and did everything for me but it's slow."

Adams, Kennedy, Nason, John Morgan and a few others had a Wednesday night practice session all during the summer months. And, to spice things up, there was a challenge offered to everyone.

"We'd go as many laps as we wanted in my clone and see who got the fastest time," he said. "You'd win beer or something but I was always the fastest although I think Nason got me one time."

This season Adams only raced a handful of events but did fairly good although his kart was plagued with some mechanical problems.

At one race he and Nason teamed to play a joke on Kennedy. Since they're the same size Adams had his friend substitute and arrive on the grid wearing the doctors uniform and helmet.

"He really diced it up and Mitch got quite a surprise," Adams said with a laugh."

Kennedy found what happened when he pulled into the post race weighing area and all three shared a good laugh over it.

During the final race of the season, Adams did something that's probably never been done before. This time he lined up for the 125-shifter main in a powerful clutch kart but things didn't go as planned.

"I blew up in the first corner, but it was the first corner in 14 laps," he said. "So I left that kart then showed up in my shifter kart and I blew that one up the same race so I had the distinction of blowing up two karts in one race."

Like virtually every kart racer Adams is self financed but he does have both a rooting section and supporters.

Rooting him is wife, Dr. Ann-Marie Campione, a family practice physician at St. Mary's Hospital, and 12-year-old daughter Niki.

Among the supporters are his business, The Smile Shop, partners Michael Stocker and his daughter Nicole Stocker. Two others are personal trainer Ryan Colec and of course Mitch Kennedy.

Another is Bob Schearer, who builds Adams' drag boat motors, is setting up his flat bottom boat and helps with the karts.

And yes, Adams is now exploring the world of open cockpit drag boats.

"I have a hydro and 8-second boat and am building a 9-second flat bottom boat," he said. "I've run the hydro several times but not raced them. They are open boats and it's unreal how fast they are, around 160 mph. The hydro has a two-speed transmission with a blown alcohol 12,000 horsepower motor."

He still rides motorcycles but has recently sold both of his road bikes.

"I think my days for racing motorcycles are over because it hurts too much when I fall," he s Looking into the future, although he'll dabble in drag boats his focus is on karts.

"I love the karts and that's where all my friends are so I'm set up for it. I've done well and I'll keep doing it," he said. "The thing is for the karts, Wednesday after work I can do it and weekends I can do it. But if I do it for a drag boat, that's a whole weekend plus another day so it's a big investment for every race."

Right now Adams and friends are waiting for the weather to clear so they can resume their Wednesday night activities at Desert Park Raceway and all of them are looking forward to next season.

Asked about if he can ever beat Kennedy, he said, "I can get him every now and then in a TAG kart but in the shifter I don't think anybody can get Mitch."

For Adams racing not only brings excitement and accomplishment but also has gained him very good friends and the extended family the sport brings. So he'll be a racing dentist for the foreseeable future.

OTHER RACING NEWS

•Earlier this month kart racer Mark Nason was at Infineon Raceway to compete in the inaugural 2010 Lancer Evolution Challenge. It's an autocross competition pitting 11-invited drivers.

First they run solo for times then compete head-to-hear on mirror autocross tracks with the fastest progressing into the next round. At the end Nason clocked the fastest times and his prize; next year he gets the use of a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
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