Rick was born on January 18, 1956 in South Bend, IN, to the late, Fred and Loretta (Lane) Wetzel. He married his wife Lori on July 4, 1992 in Charleston, South Carolina, she survives along with his sisters, Mary Gaye Wetzel and Cyndy (Ralph) Andrews of South Bend.
Rick spent his entire working career in motor racing, the beginning in Indy car and the last 20 plus years at Hendrick Motorsports. Rick could be best described as the racer’s racer. He lived every day to race and during his incredible career as an engine builder whatever team or racing series that he was associated with was elevated due to his passion and commitment. With names like Andretti, Johncock, Jarrett, Labonte, and Gordon all winning America’s most prestigious races with engines he built.
He is responsible for mentoring and guiding the careers of some of today’s most successful NASCAR engine suppliers and executives. Recognized and documented by Chevrolet Racing executives as the only individual to build the engines that won the most prestigious races in America, the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, and the Charlotte 600.
He was twice awarded the NASCAR Engine Builder of the Year award. At the height of his career, he claimed the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship with driver Jeff Gordon in 2001 as the engine builder only to learn in the months afterwards that he had been stricken with the disease that would eventually take his life some 18 years later. Rick enjoyed spending time at Sprint car races, elk hunting in Wyoming, and spoiling his dogs, Champ and Sister.