Larry Rice – the East Coast Larry Rice, not the midwestern Larry Rice – takes a victory lap after a qualifying race win at Pine Brook on Friday, August 15, 1969. He then drove this rear-engine car to a strong second-place finish in the feature behind four-time ATQMRA champion Doug Craig.
24 hours later he was gone, killed in an ARDC Midget race at the Islip Speedway. Rice was 29 years old at the time, and left behind a wife and three children.
Rice’s death was the second ARDC fatality that year, the other claiming Bob Wilkey on June 3 at the Reading Fairgrounds. Wilkey was also a Pine Brook regular, and somewhat ironically his best finish at the track was second, coming two years earlier, on June 10, 1967.
The deaths of Wilkey and Rice were the catalyst that added roll cages to the ARDC Midgets. The topic of roll cages was controversial, as many of the more seasoned drivers objected to them, but then-ARDC President Ken Brenn stood firm on their addition. At Pine Brook, no such controversy arose. Series champion Craig quietly added a cage to his car for 1970, and for 1971 cages became a requirement on the TQs.