OXFORD — He was in the driver’s seat of the slowest set of wheels, but no one was happier at the drag strip Friday night than Ricky Moody.

Friday’s racing at New Oxford Dragway was dedicated to Moody, who goes by the nickname “Fordman” due to his love of Ford cars.

Ricky Moody’s father Richard gets to ride along during a time trial with John Morrison on Friday at Oxford Dragway. Brewster Burns photo

A New Vineyard resident, Moody has become beloved in his hometown for constant positive attitude while he has battled various health problems since 2007. He had a following of friends and family Friday — even more than any of the drivers at the drag strip — and Moody wasn’t even racing.

Instead, he was in his motorized wheelchair, first visiting in the pits with family friend Johnny Morrison and his father, John Morrison, who sponsored Friday’s racing event with their Lewiston-based Cure Cannabis Co. business. Both Morrisons also took part in the racing action — in Dodges, “unfortunately,” for Ricky’s sake, Johnny Morrison said.

Moody’s father, Richard, got to ride shotgun as John Morrison took his Dodge Challenger down the strip for a run. Ricky joked that they would have won the head-to-head duel with the competitor if they were in a Ford.

Friday was a rare visit to the drag strip for Moody, who raced at Unity Raceway’s dirt track for a summer when he was a teenager and closely follows NASCAR. His mother, Teresa, said he’s a fan of the Stewart-Hass Racing Fords, specifically Kevin Harvick. Moody was wearing a Kevin Harvick No. 4 hat Friday night.

“This is the first event I’ve been to, for drag racing. About the only time I get down to see the drag racing is the Show, Shine and Drag (that used to take place at Oxford Plains Speedway and the dragway),” Moody said. “But I’ll definitely be a repeat attender and come here more often.”

Moody settled his wheelchair in front of the dragway’s grandstands, where he analyzed each competing car with family and friends. He called the event in his name “remarkable,” and was very thankful for the surprise.

It was a retreat from reality for Moody, who among his many health issues is battling Stage 4 skin cancer. Thursday was his second round of chemo out of three. After an off-week, he’ll start another cycle.

“After three cycles he’ll have scanning to see how things are looking. But it is Stage 4. And that all depends on how long he can tolerate the chemo,” Teresa Moody said. “You know, everybody’s kind of unsure right now (how long he has to live). He’s tired, really tired.”

Not too tired to keep up with the action as the sun set at the end of the drag strip.

“It’s great. You get out in this environment, and with friends and stuff, you don’t think about that stuff,” Ricky Moody said. “That’s the thing, you don’t want to think about it, you want to live peaceful, you know? Don’t want to let it drag you down.”

That positive outlook impresses Johnny Morrison.

“He’s just one of the most optimistic, cheerful, upbeat guys I’ve ever met,” Morrison said. “You know, he’s going through some seriously rough stuff right now, and the kid’s just the happiest, go-lucky guy you could ever meet. It doesn’t seem like it’s really affecting his spirits at all. He just wants everyone to be happy and have a good time and not even worry about him, which is crazy to most people.”

Morrison helped pave the way for Friday’s racing to be dedicated to Moody. Cure Cannabis was already set to sponsor the event, but, Morrison said, “as soon as we found out that this was all going on, and that he needed help and stuff, we kind of redirected it towards him instead of us.”

Moody said it was amazing what the Morrisons did to help honor him Friday night, including putting his name on the elder Morrison’s car, along with banners and T-shirts for the event.

“We just really wanted to do anything we can,” Morrison said. “We try to help out with a bunch of different organizations and stuff like that, and just really try to give back. We see ourselves as really lucky to be in a position where we can do that stuff for people, so it’s definitely very important in our eyes to make sure we give back to people who are less-fortunate or need help at that time.”

New Oxford Dragway owner Les Williams was more than happy to have Morrison lead the way in dedicating the event to Moody.

“With my family, we’ve always been really interested in doing stuff like that. My wife’s always trying to participate in Toys for Tots, and helping out the needy and the less-fortunate. So whenever we can do something like that to help somebody …” Williams said. “I pretty much came from nothing, so to be able to extend out, to change even somebody’s day, we enjoy doing that.”

Moody certainly enjoyed himself watching the cars zip down the strip.

He said he wasn’t feeling the effects of Thursday’s chemo session too much. He said he’s been told it’s after the third doses that he’ll really start to feel them.

“But I’m not going to let it slow me down,” he said.

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