Riley Raynard has raced since his teenage years, winning eight IMCA hobby stock races while battling the effects Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). At age 25, he has finally hung up his helmet. Now, Raynard looks to start his next stage in the sport as an announcer.
“I’m retiring because the disease is progressing and I’m having a harder time doing stuff — like driving,” Raynard, of Lampman, Saskatchewan, Canada, said. “My current hand-control system isn’t working the way I had hoped it would. I’ve been struggling with it.”
Finding a Path to Race and Win
Raynard relied on friends and family to lift him into the grandstands to watch racing and then into his car when he became a hobby stock driver. Despite those situations, he still remains fiercely independent.
“I’m still in my manual-drive wheelchair,” said Raynard. “I’ve been in a manual wheelchair since I was 13. It helps me keep my muscles strong and is better for my fitness.”
Early in his racing career, Raynard would put his right hand on his right leg to help push down on the accelerator. Recently, he used a ring on the steering wheel that he pulled to increase acceleration while using his left hand to brake.
“I was surprised I was able to race so long,” said Raynard. “I am fortunate because there are people with this disease who are worse off than me, and I am both lucky and thankful I got to race for 10 years while battling DMD.”
Honoring Raynard’s Impact on the Sport
Raynard raced primarily at two tracks — Nodak Speedway in Minot, North Dakota, and Estevan Motor Speedway in Saskatchewan, Canada. The latter will rename one of its biggest race weekends, Dirt Wars, after Raynard. Raynard won the event in its first year.
“Riley has been such a leader for so many people in so many ways,” Estevan Motor Speedway President Brad Pierson said. “He’s been a star at the Estevan Motor Speedway for a lot of years. [There’s been] a lot of recognition from down in the States for what he’s pulled off. We want to keep him involved at Estevan Motor Speedway.”
One of those ways of keeping Raynard a part of the festivities at Esteven Motor Speedway will be having him serve as a race announcer.
Riley Raynard: A New Challenge
Raynard faces a whole new world behind the mic. Fortunately, Raynard never stepped away from a challenge.
“I’ll do a couple of driver interviews — for sure, I’m going to need some experience,” said Raynard. “I’ve always wanted to try announcing. Since I have been racing for 10 years, I think I could be good at it.”
There’s the challenge of announcing, and then there’s the physical challenge of doing it. Fortunately, Raynard has plenty of friends to help.
“I have to be carried up,” Raynard said. “There are tons of people willing to carry me up to the top of the grandstand.”
That can-do attitude is contagious among those who know Raynard, and with good reason.
The Ultimate Mission for Riley Raynard
Riley Raynard inspires those whom he meets. That’s perhaps his greatest impact on the sport — and beyond. It’s what Raynard hopes to continue to do.
“I want to help people and see the sport grow,” said Raynard. “I love racing, and it’s so close to my heart — it’s in my veins. It is our family passion and I will be there for my father and brother.”
Raynard’s younger brother, Diezel, 19, will race this season in the hobby stocks. Their father Devin will be at the races to support both in their endeavors. In turn, Riley Raynard hopes to support others facing their own personal battles.
“People who are battling diseases often want to speak with me,” Raynard said. “My words of advice: Never give up. Anything in life is possible for you to overcome. If I can do it, so can you.”
The Outside Groove Director of Photography has written hundreds of stories since the website’s inception. This year marks his 54th year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.