THOMASTON — Ryan Ripley has been driving fast on four wheels since age seven. Starting with go-karts, and now, as an adult, racing in three stock car divisions — Pro Stock, Sportsman, and Modifieds.

And the 26-year-old Thomaston resident has rolled into the winner’s circle plenty — including in significant races.

While Ripley has yet to race in two divisions in the same day, he said driving three types of cars it sometimes will take him a moment to remember which gear is which as they have different shifting patterns.

However, with nearly 20 years of racing experience, he figures it out because, ultimately, it naturally comes easy to the young man who has a passion to drive fast.

Ripley admitted it is tough to pick his preferred division, but called it close between Pro Stock and Modifieds.

“Pro Stock is the fastest, but I’m racing in the PASS Tour with Modifieds,” he said.

The PASS Tour is the Pro All-Star Series. Ripley, in the 2021 season, is taking part in the tour for the Modifieds. The season brought him to Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts in July along with 20 other topnotch drivers.

Ryan Ripley wins at Seekonk Speedway, Seekonk, Mass. Photo courtesy of Ryan Ripley

The Bay State Classic at Seekonk Speedway was Ripley’s first out-of-state race. And he won.

“That was the first time I’ve ever seen that track, I’ve never been to it,” he said.

He said of the 50 laps, he led 47 of them, and his win was by half of a track.

Over the span of his career behind the wheel, Ripley has amassed five championships, and more than 70 wins.

For those who do not follow auto racing, Ripley said the notable differences between the divisions was in the Pro Stock, the cars are on a wider tire and wheel, and have more power. He said aside from a few rules that are different, the Late Model Sportsman is more comparable to the Modifieds, which have open fenders.

Ripley’s racing career began quite similarly to his Seekonk win.

“I was seven years old when my dad brought me to the go-kart track in St. Albans,” he said.

He added that it was there, the Thunder Valley Raceway, now HazyQdega Raceway, that he won his first race.

“First time on the track, and I won,” Ripley said.

From there, Ripley went on to race two years at Richmond Karting Speedway. Beyond that, he brought his racing career to Unity Raceway, and later to Wiscasset Speedway and beyond.

The 2021 racing season has proven to be fruitful for Ripley and his team.

“We’ve found quite a bit of success this year,” he said.

Ryan Ripley, with his family and team, after winning a Late Model Sportsman race at Wiscasset Speedway. Photo courtesy of Ryan Ripley

Currently, he has driven into the winner’s circle two times at Wiscasset for his driving in the Modifieds. He also has several top-three, top-five, and top-10 finishes in the division.

On Aug. 7, he took his first win in the Late Model Sportsman Division.

“We put a lot of effort into that car,” he said.

Ripley said, when he won, it had only been his third race in that division.

The next time that Group 2 divisions took to the track, on Aug. 21, Ripley said he had to start at the back of the pack, in the 18th position.

However, Ripley seems to have found his groove on the track, and finished the race third.

In the Pro Stock Division, he has a top-three finish, two top-five finishes, and three top-10 finishes.

Ripley credited success he has experienced this season to his team.

“A big thing about it is the team being able to prepare the car,” he said.

“I’ve got my father, uncles, spotter, Brian Leadbetter, Forest Peasely, Andy Carter, and the list goes on,” he said.

He added having the team helps him get to the smaller stuff he would not have the time to do if he did it himself.

Ryan Ripley, middle, wins at Oxford Plains Speedway on Aug. 29. Photo courtesy of Ryan Ripley

On Aug. 29, Ripley hoisted a winner’s trophy again. This time, during the Oxford 250 weekend at Oxford Plains Speedway after winning the 50-lap PASS Modifieds event.

Ripley said he had taken a fourth-place finish at the speedway earlier this year.

“I started 12th and was in sixth on lap three,” he said.

By the midway point of the race, Ripley said he was in first.

“We had four or five restarts once I got into the lead, by every restart I pulled away,” he said.

“That was probably one of the biggest wins, it was pretty exciting,” Ripley said.

The Oxford 250 Weekend is considered one of the most significant of the year for New England racing.

“It felt pretty good to get a win there,” he said.

The win was his first at the speedway.

Going forward, Ripley said he has hope to see where things go.

“We snowballed the effect of putting together a Super Late Model,” he said.

He added although he will always race in the Modifieds off and on, because the car is close to him, he hopes to become competitive in the top racing divisions, Pro Stock and Sportsman.

“The only two divisions I haven’t won in are the four-cylinder Pro and Pro Stock,” he said.

His goal is to go PASS racing with the Super Late Models. 

This November, he and wife, Jordan, are expecting a child. Ripley said it is his dream to build an older car someday with his son.

Ryan Ripley, left, with his wife, Jordan. Photo courtesy of Ryan Ripley

“I enjoy working on cars with my dad,” he said.

As a third-generation driver in his family, he hopes his son will follow, but said he understands if that is not something he wants to do.

“Every race car driver wants [their children] to follow them, but, at the end of the day, it’s his choice,” Ripley said.

Racing in the Ripley family always has been a family affair. Ripley’s uncle, Daren, has been a familiar face and name at the speedways and raceways over the years, and when there’s a Ripley on the track, everyone comes together. Of course, his grandfather, Doug, is a hall-of-famer at the Wiscasset track.

“It brings the whole family together,” Ripley said of auto racing.

He said his grandparents, aunts and uncles come to the track on race days to show support.

With the season coming closer to an end, Ripley focuses on keeping the success going in the different divisions.

He is unsure if he and his team will make the trek to the September PASS race for the Modifieds at White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. He does plan to race at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt.

At this point, Ripley will finish the racing season at Wiscasset and has his sights set on the Paul Bunyan 250 Speed Weekend on Oct. 9-10 at Speedway 95 in Bangor.