Remembering Fred “Fritz” Ritchings
I can honestly say that I never thought I’d be talking about losing another Bridgeport Family member again so soon. Less than a month ago, the racing community lost a true race fan in Larry Daniels. Yesterday, suddenly Fred ‘Fritz’ Ritchings was gone. If you were a regular at Bridgeport, I can guarantee you you’ve seen Fred or probably even talked to him several times over the years. You know, we have slogan on our t-shirts that says ‘We are Bridgeport’. Well, Fred Ritchings epitomized that phrase.
I personally didn’t know Fred until I started working at Bridgeport three short years ago. All I can really say is that the man honestly and genuinely LOVED Bridgeport Speedway. The stories he would tell…and many of them several times over (which I will miss) were always entertaining. Fred lived down in Belleplain, NJ. Belleplain’s not really near anything to be honest, so it was a decent hike for ‘ol Freddy each and every week. Every week like clockwork Fred would show up to Bridgeport Friday morning and start cleaning up and helping out. He loved to use the ‘big blower’ as I called it. He’d blow all the dirt, dust, and sand off the midway each weekend. Then he’d make a round through the bathrooms to make sure they were straightened up. Then he’d take a rest and tell me a story in my office. Next, he’d run off somewhere for a lunch break and come back and start picking up any loose trash. Then he’d tell me another story and just how much he loved Bridgeport and how happy he was to help us every week.
Fred would stay over on Friday nights and usually sleep in his truck, which he would always brag about how it had like 350,000 miles on it or something….I just know it was a lot and every time we rode to the hardware store, I just would hope that we’d make it back to the track without breaking down. Early every Saturday morning Fred would wake up and drive to pick up his good friend and Bridgeport’s good friend ‘Buddy’ over in Clayton, NJ. They’d be back at the track before 9am cleaning, shoveling, sweeping, blowing, you name it. I think Freddy’s favorite part of the day was when Keith would tell him to get in the packer vehicles and work the track. Ooooh Fred just loved going around on that track squishing that mud around. In fact one time, he was out there riding around on three tires with the one tire completely off of the rim flopping around. He was so into it and happy to be out there, that he never even noticed the difference…I’m telling you, you had to be there to believe it.
After the races on Friday nights, I’m usually in my office working on the computer and Fred would mosey on in around midnight and just start talking away. He’d tell me so many different stories about Alcyon, Vineland, and Pleasantville Speedways. I know he loved Pleasantville. He liked Wall and when New Egypt was paved back in the 70s too. ‘Freddy Fred’, as I would call him sure did make the time go by each and every Friday night till usually 2 in the morning. He always would make it a point and tell me just how he enjoyed working with our team…Brian, Dave, Keith, Kolby, and myself. Fred just wanted to be a part of something just like Larry. I know that he’d put out schedules at his local diner and gas station just to spread the word about Bridgeport.
Fred called me less than two weeks ago just to ask about our employee meeting and couldn’t believe what had happened to Larry. The last month has been a hard one for the Bridgeport Team, that’s for certain. Things definitely won’t be the same around the facility for us before, during, and after the show on race night. Fred, you will be missed by all my friend. God Bless.
Information about services can be found here http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/obituaries/ritchings-fred-h-fritz/article_232f835a-e0d9-5816-b306-60bee3d70529.html?mode=jqm