The life of a man who lived with the throttle wide open came to an end this past week. James Rayburn “Ray” Price was remembered for his generosity, kind spirit and drag racing competitiveness at funeral services held Sunday in Raleigh. Price passed away in his sleep December 16. He was 78 and still very active in his Harley-Davidson and Triumph dealerships, and his motorcycle drag racing team.
Price was a native of Johnston County and a longtime resident of Raleigh. He served in the Air Force and was a Mason. Price was known as a kind and generous man, who was actively involved with charitable rides throughout the community. He held a deep love for his family, staff and customers as well as members of the Raleigh H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group).
“Today we buried a wonderful, dedicated family man and a legend in the world of motorsports,” said Mark Hendrix, general manager of Ray Price, Inc. “Ray Price was a motorsports icon with a huge heart, who always had time for friends and fans. His passion for sharing his love of motorcycling converged every day with his dedication to serving our community.”
Ray Price is survived by his wife of 57 years Jean Price; his daughter Robin Richardson and husband Terry; his grandson Jordan Richardson and wife Katie; his granddaughter Rebecca Richardson; and his brother Randall Price and wife Ann.
The memorial services took place at Red Hat Amphitheater in downtown Raleigh where thousands of friends, family and colleagues from the world of motorcycling attended the services, remembering Price for his racing spirit and his active involvement in community philanthropy, including the U.S. Marines’ Toys For Tots Ride, the Ray Price Easter Basket Ride, and Ray Price Capital City Bikefest, among others. Thousands of bikers participated in the funeral services, which included a memorial ride with Price to his burial at the cemetery at Montlawn Memorial Park.
Price was best known for his success as a drag racer and as “Father of the Funnybike,” having designed the first wheelie bar for motorcycle drag racing. He was also instrumental in creating the current style of two-speed racing transmission and helped to fuel the popularity of motorcycle drag racing with the International Hot Rod Association and National Hot Rod Association (NHRA).
Up until his death, Price was actively involved with the Ray Price Motorsports Racing Team based in Raleigh. The team is two-time defending champions in the NHRA Harley-Davidson Top Fuel Drag Racing Series for 2014 and 2015.
Price began his drag racing career in 1967 at age 30. He went on to win 46 national events and set 51 speed records, becoming the national points champion in 1979-80. Prior to retiring at age 66, Price set the IHRA nitro-fuel record of 6.36 seconds at 224.21 mph. He is an inducted member of the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame, the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the N.C. Drag Racing Hall of Fame, the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame, and the National Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
For more than 30 years, Ray Price Harley-Davidson and Ray Price Triumph in Raleigh, N.C. has served as one of the Southeast’s top motorcycle dealerships. Earlier this year, the dealership was honored by The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association with its “Retailer of the Year” award. Ray Price is also known for the Ray Price Capital City Bikefest, the annual motorcycle festival that draws 100,000 visitors into downtown Raleigh each September for the past 11 years. Ray Price Motorsports Racing participates in the NHRA Harley-Davidson Top Fuel Drag Racing Series, winning back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015.
Photos by Scott Clevenger and April Rosequist
For more than 30 years, Ray Price Harley-Davidson has served as the center of motorcycle culture in Raleigh, N.C., and among the Southeast’s top motorcycle dealerships. Home to Hall-of-Fame racing legend Ray Price, dealership staff have centuries of combined Harley riding experience to provide award-winning customer service and education programs for beginners-to-expert riders. Ray Price was again named a 2014 Dealernews Top 100 business, as well as a Powersports Business Power 50 Dealer. The team actively supports area charities through a wide range of philanthropy projects. Ray Price Racing won the National Hot Rod Association’s (NHRA) Top Fuel Harley Championship in 2014 and 2015.