Rick’s first trip to the salt flats was in 1950. John and Betty threw their three little boys in the truck and made the long trek to Bonneville from San Diego. Rick was just four years old. The boys helped SCTA set the cones out for the second annual Speed Week that year. The Vescos have participated nearly every years since that time.
Rick set his first Bonneville land speed record at age 16 with a 500 cc motorcycle @ 131 mph.
He also enjoyed drag racing his motorcycle in Mexico and participating in cross country & motocross events. He once cobbled together 1932 water pump engine, a carb from his Dad’s race car, a mag from an airplane, a Triumph motorcycle gear box and a Norton frame. “The Pump” reached a top speed of 107 mph and was featured in Cycle World magazine.
In 1968 Rick designed and built a motorcycle streamliner similar to Burt Munro’s for Bridgestone Motor Corp. He set a new record for 100 cc on gas @ 113 mph. (record not broken until 2004)
1969 - 1985 Rick drove the family race car #444, “Little Giant.” To this date that trusty car has set 26 land speed records at Bonneville. But #444 is not limited to land speed racing. It has been known to tow bicyclists in it’s wake as well as tote skiers on it’s top!
1970 Rick went to work for Hooker Headers where he met “Super Dave” Spangler, the current driver of TURBINATOR II. At Hooker Rick was the product development engineer designing a new line of exhaust systems for snowmobiles and motorcycles.
1973 Rick and Jinx left So. Cal for northern Utah where he and brother Chuck opened a motorcycle, snowmobile sports center. Rick was happy to be closer to the BSF. In Brigham City they raised their three children and enjoyed the success of their business for thirty years. In 2003 Rick and Jinx left the cold of the north, moved to Rockville Utah - just outside Zion Natl. Park
and built their dream home.
It was in the early 1970s Rick met Larry Volk through their mutual concern over the deteriorating Salt Flats. They worked with Utah Congressman Jim Hansen and the BLM to see what could be done. They were told if they could demonstrate more public use of the BSF, it would have a better chance of being “saved.” This initiated the birth of the Utah Salt Flat Racing Association and the Save the Salt movement. Increasing the number of events each year on the racing calendar resulted in more public awareness of the existence and condition of the Bonneville Salt Flats. Rick was vice president of the USFRA and Chairman of Save the Salt for a number of years.
In 1976 Rick gained entry to the 200 MPH Club with a record of 211 mph on gas in #444 with two 40 c.i. Yamaha engines. By 1981 the car had a 350 Chevy V-8 engine and went 300.3 mph on gas.
1988 - 1989 In his home garage, (which he had to extend), Rick built the World’s fastest wheel driven vehicle, “The Turbinator.” Eleven years later Rick and Don set new national records @ 427 mph and 438 mph with “The Turbinator.” The next year with brother Don driving, they set FIA world record of 458 mph. Having reached top speed of 470 mph during Speed Week, Don felt it was ready to go 500, but Rick made him stop until FIA sanctioning was on site. Unfortunately Don succumbed to cancer in 2001 - still dreaming of 500 mph.
The salt was good that year in large part because of the Save the Salt efforts which resulted in the first “Salt Laydown” project in 1997. It was hailed as a win-win situation with racers, BLM and mining interests all working together to restore the flats.
2007 Rick began the restoration of the historic #444 car which had been in the capable hands of the Nish family. In celebration of its 50th year on the salt “Little Giant” sported the same paint job as in its 1957 debut. Since that time this old reliable car has set five land speed records and launched three more team members into the 300 mph Club, including Rick’s daughter, Rhonnie @ 310 mph in 2011.
During time between salt flat events Rick has worked tirelessly on the Save the Salt program. He has partnered with a group of local racers and enthusiasts to form the Utah Alliance. This group works hand in hand with the Save the Salt Foundation and can address local issues regarding the preservation and restoration of the flats. They have been to Congressional folks, Governor’s office, State legislature and the BLM. It is the Vesco’s family passion to see the historic Bonneville Salt Flats restored to the glory days of racing when Ab Jenkins, John Cobb, and Malcolm Campbell first discovered the “world’s greatest race track.”